Surfing, Skateboarding, Music, Photography, Travel, Culture and general antics of the youth on the run.

Photo Credit: Tobin Yelland Portfolio 028: San Francisco skateboarding in the late ’80s

what youth photo credit tobin yelland

Tobin Yelland picked up photography early. And it was skateboarding right away. The subculture and lifestyle surrounding it especially. He was first published in Thrasher when he was only 15. We caught up with him below to learn a bit more about his path to being a revered skate photog.

WHAT YOUTH: How old were you when you got into photography?

TOBIN YELLAND: I got into photography at 14 during the summer. I had a photography and darkroom class and took it with my good friend Luke Ogden. I grew up in San Francisco and I was introduced to photography through skateboarding. I watched the older photographers who worked for Thrasher, taking photos and skating at the same session. It looked fun, so I borrowed my step dads camera.

Do you remember the first time you realized “This is what I want to do?”

Yeah, the first time I was like, “Yes, this is what I want to do for sure was when I got to shoot photos of Mickey Reyes, Mike Alcantar and Julien Stranger at a session at Everet Middle School. They were shooting for Sick Boys (an amazing skate film by Mike McEntire) Bryce Kanights was shooting photos of these guys for Thrasher and also being filmed by Mike for Sick Boys. After the session I showed the photos to Bryce hoping to get some feedback. He took them to Thrasher and Fausto Vitello saw a sequence I shot of Mike Alcantar and wanted to use it for a Venture trucks advertisement. After the ad ran I got a check for $100 and photo credit. I was so stoked I was freaking out. I was 16 and graduating high school soon and had little interest in going to college so I figured that if I could do this in the future I could pay bills this way.

Click below to view the whole gallery: 

How did you develop your technical and creative skills?

My mom and step dad made me a darkroom. I coated the sink with fiber glass resin in a stuffy room and was so out of it after that. I basically developed my own film and printed all the time. I looked at books and tried to copy other photographers. I shot nudes of my girlfriend in my room and cloudscapes from my roof and skating every weekend and after school.

Did you go to school or have a mentor?

I took a few darkroom classes and one documentary photography workshop and got to meet William Kline and Larry Clark. I made a connection with Larry Clark and knew after this that I wasn’t interested in fashion photography but that photographing my friends skating and living life is what I wanted to focus on.

What is like to look back at all your ’90s photos and see where all the crew is at now?

I’m still friends with most everyone that I skated and shot photos with in the ’90s. I look at these images as a time when we only thought of skating and what we needed to do to skate as much as possible. My friends were broke. We ate a lot of beans and rice. I rented a closet for $80 a month for a while. I think the lack of money in skating — especially in the early ’90s during the recession made my goal clear. I just wanted to skate have fun and be the best photographer I could be.

What are you into shooting now?

I love shooting interesting people. For work I have been shooting a lot of lifestyle photos and also making commercials and documentaries. I went on a skate trip in the summer with some old friends and made some new friends and am really happy with the photos I took. I have young kids and love to shoot photos of them growing up as well.

Photo Credit: Zara Mirkin Portfolio 017

“I love music, its my biggest passion in life except I can’t play for shit so didn’t pursue it. In saying that I try to make my work as musically involved as I can and spend the majority of my money going to watch my favorite bands play, and buying silly band merch.” –Zara Mirkin…

Photo Credit Larsen Sotelo what youth girls

Photo Credit: Larsen Sotelo Portfolio 015

Being resourceful. And making the most of what you have. That’s been the ticket for a lot of successful photographers. And Larsen Sotelo became an expert at both of these things, and now his photography comes with built in edge and raw energy. We had him select some of his favorite photos and asked him a…

Photo Credit: Luke Schuetrumpf Portfolio 015

He’s young. He’s talented. He’s hustling. And he literally rode his bike here to meet us. Australian photographer Luke Schuetrumpf started by filming surfing and then quickly abandoned that when he realized he could photograph beautiful girls instead. And the call has worked out. “Where I grew up had a big influence on me: girls at…

photo credit kyle lightner what youth surfing

Photo Credit: Kyle Lightner Portfolio 014

The return of a really talented photographer

what youth photo credit

Photo Credit: Patrick Trefz Portfolio 013

Patrick Trefz is originally from Düsseldorf, Germany — a long way from his current Santa Cruz home and surf lifestyle. But it was there in Germany his love of skateboarding got the ball rolling for his current passion. It was a few well-timed jaunts into the jungle, barefoot and eating bananas and coconuts off the…

Photo Credit: Stefan Kocev Portfolio 012

A beautiful array of images from a friend of a friend.

what youth surfing waves

Photo Credit: Seth Stafford Portfolio 011

Seth Stafford spent much of his career shooting photographs for the now out of print TransWorld Surf Mag. Now he spends his time surfing and skating and shooting more photos. And as you’ll see below, the New Jersey native has accumulated quite a surreal catalog of photographs during that career — working with and shooting both…

Photo Credit: Gutterdust Portfolio 010

Gutterdust is the epic alias of Andy Wauman, artist, photographer and wanderer.

Josh Zucker shoots Geoff Rowley what youth photo credit

Photo Credit: Josh Zucker Portfolio 009

Josh Zucker hangs with a sick crew. At only 21 years old he’s already worked for Vans and Flip, is practically an honorary member of Odd Future, kicks it on Fairfax casually and has traveled the world with “it” crews as well as a solid batch of skateboarding legends. His demeanor is polite, friendly and…

Nolan hall photo credit what youth

Photo Credit: Nolan Hall Portfolio 008

Working for Vans puts you in some pretty good company. And when your’e a cool cat like Nolan Hall, you’re going to get to document dudes authentically. In the wild. How they are. Unique, creative, fucked up and amazing. Nolan has been traveling the world snapping photos for a long time and we hit him…

Woody Gooch photo credit what youth

Photo Credit: Woody Gooch Portfolio 007

When we asked Woody Gooch about his name, all he said was: “Woodya mean?” Followed by: “I don’t really have a fucking clue how I got the name of two male private parts. I still haven’t asked my parents. No one ever believes me that my name is Woody Gooch.” But we’ll be damned if…

Photo Credit: Isaac Zoller Portfolio 006

Isaac Zoller is a photographer from Laguna Beach — which must fucking rule because his photography is a myriad of rad and inspiring things. Waves, women, scenics, bands, models, rebellion. He’s not a one trick shooter. We asked him to curate some images and he submitted like 6,000 images that were all worthy. We somehow…

Sign up for letters from What Youth


By enabling this page, you are acknowledging and accepting our privacy terms and conditions.