Greg Hunt / Interview

From professional for Stereo Skateboards, Jason Lee and Chris Pastras's company, in the late nineties to author of some of the most crucial skate videos of the past two decades - including the famous Dylan Rieder Gravis part (yes, this one), TransWorld videos such as "SIGHT UNSEEN" and various other cultural institutions ("THE DC VIDEO""MINDFIELD"...) - Greg Hunt's background is as atypical as it is rich and diverse. Now, if the arty aesthetics of the first Stereo videos - paired up with a special, and quite the impactful gift from Gabe Morford - encouraged him towards literal film work rather early on, his equally sincere interest in still photography persists, maybe, as more low-key celebrated than his legacy of technically moving pictures - in spite of quite the relentless activity, publishing-wise. As though to highlight the intrinsic importance of his subjects, presence and style throughout the years, "20TH CENTURY SUMMER", his new book, just dropped via Filmphotographic and features a selection of forty-one previously unreleased photos - all curated from some of the very first rolls of film Greg ever shot in his life; and what finer context for one's such experiments than a skate tour throughout the United States in the dead midst of summer 1995... Getting curious already? Well hopefully Greg himself will address all your possible questions - via this interview, below!


LIVE Skateboard Media: Who was Greg Hunt, on that summer of 1995?

Greg Hunt: I was a 21 year-old skater living in San Francisco. I rode for Stereo skateboards. I was amateur still and starting to think that maybe I’d never go pro. It was a weird time in my life, but a good period creatively. I was starting to make a lot of art and music at that time.

LSM: Story has it that these images were shot with your very first camera, can you elaborate on that?

GH: Yeah, Gabe Morford had given me a Minolta X-700 just week or so before that trip. It had two lenses, a 50mm 1.4 and a fisheye. I don’t remember exactly how it all transpired, but I must have been really interested in photography and Gabe recognized that. The fisheye was Tobin Yelland’s first fisheye, and I think it must have been one of Gabe’s first cameras.

LSM: Would you say that set-up (lens, etc) influenced your photography later? From that first experience with it?

GH: I think so for sure. Learning photography on a manual film camera forced me to understand depth of field and shutter speeds. I think gaining that control and then seeing the results is what got me hooked on photography. And a 50mm is such a great lens to start on, you have to work a little harder to make your compositions interesting.

Joey Bast, Coco Santiago and Bobby Puleo.

LSM: What made you want to document this trip, and then these particular moments of this trip?

GH: To be honest, I don’t remember. I think I was just excited to have a camera and take pictures. It was something new for me to try. Also, I’m a bit introverted so it was a great way for me to sort of be around everyone but not really be there. I only shot photos of our crew on tour, mostly in the motels or the van. It was a five-week demo tour and out of the twelve rolls I shot, there’s only one photo at a demo, the backflip. It’s also the only photo in the book with a skateboard in it.

LSM: Somehow, those images always struck me as very cohesive, and one could even say your "style", or "eye", as an image maker is already fully there. We even talked about this, years ago, about how this could totally be mixed with your documentation of your Alien Workshop filming trips for "Mindfield", and one could only tell the era from a couple details, like technology devices, or recognizing the skaters. Did you have interest in photography before? Even as a "viewer", only?

GH: My dad had been a photographer, but stopped when I was very young. I think most of my interest came from looking at skate magazines and then being friends with a lot of the skate photographers. I was with Gabe Morford a lot and he was always picking up film from the lab, etc, so I’d see his process. Tobin’s photos always really intrigued me, long before I started shooting.

Coco Santiago.

LSM: Skateboarding has always attracted people from vastly different sociological and cultural  backgrounds, and that group of people is no different. And I can't help myself but picturing you and Coco as polar opposites, personality wise. My knowledge of him was, and still is, made of skateboarding lore, forged out of a few spare photos in magazines, and imagination. So, I would see him as a "badass" character, let''s say, when I have always known you as quiet and reserved. Yet, there are a lot of pictures of him, here. Was the camera also a bridge, in some ways? Is it still one nowadays?

GH: I connected with Coco. As extreme as his personality was he seemed pretty open to hanging with different people and hearing different ideas. Coco sat shotgun the entire time and had a small library of National Geographic magazines on the dashboard. He was always reading. But yeah the camera was definitely a bridge. It gave me an excuse to sort of hang around without having to engage. Coco didn’t mind, so I ended up shooting a lot of photos  of him.

LSM: Actually, what the communal soundtrack in that van (even if headphones had already been invented!)?

GH: Coco had permanent shotgun so I think it was a lot of King Diamond. I think Mötörhead also. I can’t really remember.

LSM: When did you first meet Jason Lee actually?

GH: I met Jason in 1993, when he came up to SF for a visit. He either stayed at my apartment or just hung out there, I’m not sure. But I clearly recall him playing guitar in my living room, standing there making up super funny songs for us, like a little concert. Then we skated together at EMB, which I don’t remember. But that’s what started me eventually getting on Stereo.

LSM: How did you guys end up linking up again around this project?

GH: We’d see each other here and there but linked back up full-time in 2016 or so, mostly through our shared interest in photography. I then tagged along on a photo trip of his in 2017 through Texas and made a little film that’s not been released. Then once he moved back to LA we started hanging out more.

Drake Jones.

LSM: I can only imagine what it feels to put such a project together, as in presenting one moment of your own life as a "finished" project…

GH: It feels pretty good. I want to start making more books with all of the stuff I’ve shot over the last twenty years.

LSM: What is your take on the current obsession with the nineties - in fashion, music, culture and, well, skateboarding?

GH: I think it’s kind of funny, but cool. I would never have dreamed that that period would be revered, especially the fashion. I always looked at that time as skateboarding’s dark ages. The wheels were tiny, the boards flipping all over the place, the clothes huge. I never thought it looked good. But that’s also probably because I was in the middle of it then. Stereo itself was sort of a reaction to that era. I think that’s why people either loved or hated "A VISUAL SOUND" when it was released. It was counter to a lot of what was going on.

LSM: Some of us will recognize that image that would end up gracing the cover of the very first record Tommy Guerrero put out, "LOOSE GROOVES & BASTARD BLUES", on Galaxia - Thomas Campbell's label. Could you tell us how that photo happened, and then what lead to it being used for that cover design?

GH: We were in Jacksonville at a motel. That kid was there with a bunch of other kids, I’m not sure if they were friends or family. But he was hanging out with us and he must have gotten a hold of my guitar. It's as simple as that. I’m not sure how that cover happened but I remember being in the Deluxe art room and Tommy showing the design to me. I was so stoked. He also paid me for it, which was so generous and cool of him to do. It was the first payment I ever received for a photo.

"20th Century Summer" is now available, courtesy of Film Photographic
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