Erik Gross is a 29-year-old photographer and professional skateboarder based in Germany with a passion for shooting portraits and documentary photography. He gets inspired by capturing different kinds of subcultures such as skateboarders, dancers and cyclists and carries his camera around everywhere he goes so he would not miss a shot.
How did you become interested in photography and how has everything changed since?
I am a sponsored skateboarder and was touring a lot. There were always skate photographers with us and I was interested in how photography worked. When I finally looked through the viewfinder of an old Nikon FM2, I was hooked. So I bought myself a Canon AE-1 for Christmas and got started. I liked the look of film and the development process, that is why I started out analog not digital. Plus, I think you learn more from the mistakes you make and you learn how to properly use a camera. I constantly look for light and nice compositions when I walk around. And I am looking for interesting, characteristic faces and people to shoot with a lot. So I always try to carry a camera, so I don’t miss a certain situation.
Film is more organic and natural for me. It takes longer to shoot the photos and to finally see them on the negatives. Digital is too fast. I just like to hold the photos in my hands. I also think I am more concentrated and focused shooting film, because there is not so much that distracts me.
How did the idea for the series come about?
I had shot with Minnie before and we thought it’s time for a second round. We met in her apartment, because I always think that people are more relaxed when they are in their own place. The weather outside was also really bad, so it was for the best to shoot indoors.
How did your shoot with Minnie go?
I really like to shoot her, she’s really confident in front of the camera and also a very nice girl. I like her style. Tattoos, glasses and her confidence. She’s really nice and we had a lot of fun.
How can we photograph the female body in a more powerful way?
We just need to show women how they are. Not just perfect supermodel bodies. People get distracted by the perfect skinny bodies in the media. But it’s important to show people that it’s normal not to be perfect, so that they’re confident with their bodies.
How would you define beauty and how does it inspires you?
Confidence defines beauty for me. If a person feels really good in their body, you can see that in photos no matter what. I also don’t like perfect puppy faces, I look for edges and characteristic features.
How important in your work is image quality? What do you usually focus more on, the image content or quality?
It always depends on the project. But in general the content and the overall feeling of the image is a way more important than quality. There are tons of technically perfect photos out there, which don’t have a soul or a certain feeling I am looking for in images. But there’s no formula to shoot an interesting photo, if I have a great quality photo that has a certain depth and feel to it … jackpot. But there are also times where I like it rough and not perfect, like in this series here with Minnie.
What makes you happy and what’s next for you?
Skateboarding is one of the best things for me. The process of shooting photos makes me really happy too. Too many things to be honest. Traveling is so great too. My girlfriend <3. Up next is an exhibition of a trip I made to British Columbia, Canada. Something completely different of what I do normally. I’m always on the hunt for things to shoot. I love to portrait interesting characters, but besides that I like projects that are new to me, where I need to dig in deep to get the photos I want. So you need to be patient, there is something new in the making.