Skateboarding & Photographing

Fred Mortagne

April 11, 2018

As he cruises through urban areas on his skateboard, Fred Mortagne’s eyes and senses are increasingly sharpened for street photography, which he is now focussing on more and more. His tools are a Leica SL and, preferably, an M Monochrom (Typ 246).
With Brutalism, modern architecture introduced an uncompromising language of expressive formations built with raw materials. Fred Mortagne got to know it with a Leica SL and – in most cases – with an M Monochrom (Typ 246), using Summicron-M 28mm f/2 Asph, Summicron-M 35mm f/2 and Summicron-M 90mm f/2 lenses. In his black and white pictures, the French photographer manages to tease out a playful, often surreal, side to the massive, heavy-duty concrete. We spoke with Mortagne – aka French Fred – about the timelessness of black and white photography, and about photography as a natural extension of skateboarding.

LFI: Your background is in skateboarding: Can you imagine being a photographer without being a skateboarder?
Fred Mortagne: I don’t think I would have begun shooting pictures without first skateboarding. It introduced me to photography – through magazines, and then the many skate photographers I got to hang out and travel with. The creative energy was at its maximum. Skateboarding and photography were very dependent on each other, because my travels for skateboarding gave me fantastic opportunities to take photographs in various places around the world.

How similar are these two pursuits for you? What connects them?
Without realising it, I was observing other details of street life, like street art and graffiti, and architecture. One key factor for photography is precise observation. Curiosity is another. Being a photographer is just a natural extension of being a skateboarder.

Why do you always shoot in black and white?
I always wanted my pictures to be timeless, and never become outdated. I love the fact that I can mix pictures that were shot 15 years apart, like in my current book Attraper au vol: Catch in the Air (published by Um Yeah Arts). I also love the poetic and surreal aspect created by black and white.

You will find a portfolio on Fred Mortagne in LFI 3/2018, which appeared on April 6.

Fred Mortagne+-

© Stéphanie Argentier

Fred Mortagne came to photography through skateboarding and the skateboarding scene – where he had already made himself a name as a videographer. In 2004 he came in third in a photo competition, where the jury was chaired by none other than René Burri, which really solidified his confidence. Since then, and in addition to his skateboarding, he is increasingly expanding into other photographic areas – most particularly, street photography. More


Skateboarding & Photographing

Fred Mortagne