Arto Saari – undoubtedly one of the most powerful and influential European skaters to make it in America. He’s conquered some of the gnarliest spots around and showed the world that he had no fear, especially when it came to rails. Having gotten past trying to go bigger and bigger with his skating, he’s seemed to have mellowed out a bit in the past few years, building a pool to skate in his back garden seems to have been a good start and his output now is a lot less to do with a stair count and more to do with a naturally great style. His portraits and skate photos are of an equally high standard – he seems to have a natural eye for a good photo. Check out his website here for his photos, including an insanely rad shot of Lance Mountain airing an Alva board amid flames. Here are two of his responses towards skating and photography from his recent interview on the the Leica blog:
How did you first get into photography?
My 7th grade art teacher was super cool and would let us borrow a 35mm camera with a few rolls of film. We would take off from class and go shoot skateboarding around town. Later as a pro skater, I was around photographers all the time and became interested in it again. One of them sold me a camera and gave me a little cheat sheet to help me learn. I’ve been hooked ever since.
What has skateboarding done to the way you see photography, and vice versa?
Skateboarding tends to take you to new places all the time. You might be in a fancy part of town one minute and in the ghetto the next. Wherever you hear of a good spot to skate, you want to go there and check it out for new possibilities. Photography is very similar. It can be a vessel to travel and explore, it gives you a purpose for being there, and you get to show other people what is going on in the world. They go hand in hand for me. Photography has also been a great teacher for me as far as what to do and what not to do on a skateboard. I’ve been blessed with the chance of being on both sides of the lens and know what skate tricks will look like in a picture. I really enjoy being behind the lens these days. Skateboarding has been extremely kind to me and allowed me to do a lot of traveling over the last few years. I am hoping photography will do the same for me.”
Arto deserves to find a future in photography; he definitely has the skill and flare to make as much of a reputation for himself as a photographer as he has done as a skateboarder.
A selection of our favorite Arto photos published in Kingpin: