Photographing skate culture with Saeed Rahbaran

"My name is Saeed Rahbaran and I'm an editorial and commercial photographer based in Las Vegas, Nevada."

"I was born in Vienna, Virginia, a small town 30 minutes west of Washington DC, and moved to Las Vegas in 2004. For the past 8 years I've split my time between Las Vegas and Southern California where I photographed a majority of my skateboarding work."

How would you describe your photography style?

I would describe my photography as storytelling within cultures that I’m interested in. What’s great about getting older is your interests expand immensely, and for me, the most minuscule things I question or learn about outside of my comfort zone make me want to dive in and document with a camera.

How did you get into skate photography?

I got into skateboard photography the day I began taking pictures. I was 16 years old and had just experienced a severe concussion that put me in the hospital overnight. This was my second serious skate related injury that needed real medical attention and my parents were beyond furious, mostly scared and sad. At the time I thought they were jerks for wanting me to quit entirely, but now I totally understand how insane that must be for a parent to go through. But my life was skateboarding and there was no way to stop, so I bought a camera and told them thats what I’ll do instead. In the beginning it felt more like an excuse to be out secretly skateboarding, but once I learned the craft of documenting the tricks, I fell in love and haven’t stopped since.

Can you tell us what was happening in photo below?

This is a picture of Ryan Reyes in the rain just after trying to get a trick at a ditch here in Vegas. It was summertime and well over 100 degrees out, but clouds were rolling through all morning making it somewhat bearable to skate. While he was trying the trick it instantly cooled down, the wind picked up, and it started pouring rain. Total defeat by bad weather.

What do you usually say and do when someone takes a slam skating?

I usually say the standard, “are you ok?” Every slam is different and you usually know right away if something is seriously wrong. Once I know the skater is ok I think it's best to just give them some space.

Can you tell us what happened in the photo above? 

Unlike my above answer, this describes a situation that triggers more than the “are you ok” statement. This is a photo of Ryan Spencer just moments after getting knocked out trying to boneless lipslide a rail in downtown LA. He clipped the rail and went face first into the rough asphalt, a complete freak accident seeing that he did the trick a few times prior. Everyone instantly gasped or blurted “holy shit.” He was knocked out for a few seconds, then got up and walked back with us to where we were sitting. I took this picture while he was trying to remember what happened. He must have repeated the same few things dozens of times, it was really scary. Luckily Ryan was ok, just a bad concussion and chewed up skin from the rough ground.

What is your favourite quote/saying?

Don’t condemn, criticize, or complain. A tough one to live by, but I’ve been doing my best!

What is your favourite cheap meal to cook? 

Ramen! I add tons of veggies, lemon, and sriracha to spice it up. It’s delicious and quick to make.

What is your favourite Nintendo 64 or GameCube game? 

I never really got into video games. I was always terrible at them and didn’t have the patience to learn each game. My big brother had a Nintendo 64 and I remember enjoying a snowboarding game and one of the race car games. I loved the fact that he would beat all the levels and I could mess around on all of them.


Head over to Saeed's website for more of his work and don't forget to follow him on Instagram for more epic shots and potential slams. Thanks for the chat legend!