For decades now, Atiba Jefferson has been living a life that most people on this planet could never keep up with. Unarguably the most popular skateboarding photographer of our generation, he started off as a contributor to Transworld Skateboarding, which led him to co-found The Skateboard Mag in 2004. Meanwhile, his love for the Lakers had him sneak in a film camera into basketball games, eventually landing him portrait sessions with the likes of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
He plays keyboard and guitar in The Goat with Shane Heyl, Spanky, Beagle and Andrew Reynolds, DJs across the country at arts and sports events, and although you might catch him shot gunning a beer after bar close, he’s probably scheduled on a flight to China in the morning – and he won’t miss it.
There’s no stopping this guy, and that’s why we were excited to interview him and get a little back story in time for the release of his LA Capsule Collection for Green Label Exclusives, a one night only photo show at HVW8 with live music by Life Coach and DJ sets from The Blackouts and Steve Lee. RSVP here, it’s gonna be a good one.
LF: How did your one-night art show at HVW8 come about?
AJ: Aaron who works with Green Label brought it up and I have been to shows there and love it every time. What’s to expect? It’s a bunch of stuff I have shot in LA over the years. It will be lots of Prod and Kobe Bryant.
LF: You’ve worked with tons of professional athletes and have seen the rise and demise of many. Can fame and money fuck you up if you are not careful?
AJ: Yes I have been around the block a couple times and have seen people fall to lots of vice’s drugs, fame, money, and ego. I think the people at the top stay there because they are true to themselves and check the ego at the door, and then there is addiction everything in moderation and your good. But fame and money are good if used to help others.
LF: You first got into basketball photography by sneaking your camera into Lakers games. Did you ever get caught, or was it all good from there?
AJ: Ha I never got caught film days people were so much more relaxed.
LF: You photographed Michael Jordan. Can you talk about that a little bit, and what was the coolest thing he said to you during the shoot?
AJ: It was quick because he is such a pro ever frame perfect, he asked me if I was the photographer because I looked so young, but a really cool dude, happiest day of my life besides Koston backnoseblunt brick town.
LF: You compare skating to music. How are they interconnected? Can you describe in your own words what skateboarding means to you?
AJ: I mean I think they are similar in so many ways it’s all up to you when you do it, you can be solo or with your bro’s, it’s also the ultimate high and only those who do both know what I’m talking about that why it rules.
LF: Who’s your favorite skater right now?
AJ: Andrew Reynolds – but my favorite of all time is Keenan Milton.
LF: Who do you think is getting skater of the year so far?
AJ: Collin Provost
LF: What would you say has been the highest point of your career?
AJ: I’m still searching for it, but shooting Jordan, Kobe win 5 rings, Tony Hawk 900 and Loop, Reynolds kicklfiip davis so many things.
LF: One thing people don’t know about Atiba?
AJ: I really like the Cocteau Twins and it surprises me the amount of people that don’t realize I have a identical twin.
LF: Any advice for young photographers on the rise?
AJ: Do it for the love it’s a lot funnier then doing it for money.
LF: You are reputed to party hard, yet you’re always on time at the skate spot in the morning, ready to shoot. How do you keep a balance?
AJ: Everything in moderation and keep it to Jager and St Archer and I’m good, but life is too short to be hung over.
LF: What’s currently on your playlist?
AJ: Bad Brains, Animal Collective, Explosions in the Sky, My Bloody Valentine, Drake, A$AP Rocky, Zomby, Miles Davis, King Tubby.
LF: In your opinion, what’s the state of hip hop today?
AJ: Hip Hop to me is great! I lived through the golden era and right now you have very creative artists like Tyler the Creator, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar and which are to me Drake, Juicy J and French Montana and other hood shit is just as creative, it’s so good.
LF: What gets you off, literally or figuratively?
AJ: Ass, Ass, Ass, Ass in Big Sean voice, and a close game of Call of Duty.
LF: How fast do you live?
AJ: I think I live life in the middle lane. Fast enough to have fun, slow enough to enjoy it.