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Portrait of Skateboarder Mark Partain

When I first photographed Mark Partain a few years ago he made a strong impression on me so I was very excited to reshoot him for this portrait below. I already had a good portrait of Mark. The lighting was similar, but it was missing a little bit of soul that I see here. To me THIS photograph shows his intensity and the heart he has for skateboarding. It’s in his eyes and on the lines of his face. I see things in this photo that remind me what is still exciting about photography and with creating portraits.

I shot this in my studio set-up at Lake Cunningham Skatepark in San Jose, CA during the Tim Brauch Memorial Contest. In Mark’s last run in the contest, he yells out to the crowd “This is for Tom Sims” – referring to his first sponsor who had recently passed. I hear a fully supportive roar from the crowd. Moments later – in walks Partain. Words are expressed out of breath. Emotions still running. It was beautiful. It was right in front of my camera.

This is only half of the story.

Mark Partain, pro skateboarder. San Jose, CA


A large framed 20X24 portrait of this photo was auctioned off at the Board Rescue art show in Santa Cruz, CA last month. Proceeds from the auction went to Board Rescue, a non profit that provides skateboards and safety equipment to organizations that work with underprivileged and at-risk youth.

The second half of my Partain story deserves to be told another day. It’s about the good things in skateboarding, and what’s still important about photography. I thank people like Mark Partain for reminding me.

If you dig this portrait, please visit this link to see more from my series Roots, History, & Concrete – a portrait series on skateboarders. Good karma for likes. Chest bumps for shares.

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Jay Watson
San Francisco Bay Area based lifestyle and people photographer Jay Watson shoots editorial, apparel, automotive, corporate, and sports subjects for commercial clients. Published in over 70 magazines.

One Response to Portrait of Skateboarder Mark Partain

  1. I remember Mark. At the age of 8 he talked me into jumping off his back yard fence while holding the four corners of a bed sheet as a parachute. I can still feel the army surplus steel helmet thumping into the back of my skull as I hit the ground. Caught up with him years later in Oak View, CA. I lost touch after I left town when my best friend was killed. The navy took me to far away places. I see through those eyes that he still possesses that larger than life sole. It’s nice to see that he followed his passion for skating no matter where it took him. Much respect my friend, much respect. Maybe our paths will cross once again. Skater for life.

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