Mick Casals is a 33-year-old inline skater and photographer living in Austin, Texas. Mick began skating in 1997 and has spent the last several years documenting the central Texas blading scene through his lens.
Portrait by Nicalina Caserta
How did you get into photography?
My dad had a Yashica FX-103 that he bought in the mid-eighties. It’s the camera that took all the photos in my family albums. Birthdays, vacations, Christmases, you name it. He gifted it to me when I was 16 or so.
What gear do you shoot with now?
Yashica FX-103 (left) Burke and James 5×7 (right)
You are shooting a lot on film. Do you prefer this format over digital?
Early on, I shot film because I could never afford a digital camera. As time went on, I didn’t care to invest in a computer, a camera, editing software, etc. Now I feel pretty much the same. Aside from investing in some scanning equipment, I still never bought any digital gear. To this day, I don’t know how to use Photoshop. So yeah, I suppose I prefer film over digital. It’s more intentional to me. I’ve never come back from a session with more than 72 photos to sort through. And I don’t have to edit them either.
Mick skating in front of the lens. Backslide photo by Joseph Gammill. Soyale photo by Andrew Broom.
Does the cost of shooting film detract from any projects you’ve wanted to work on?
It hasn’t yet! I cut a lot of costs by developing and scanning everything myself.
How did you learn how to develop film? What is your setup like?
Mostly by reading and watching a few videos. When teaching yourself something like that, you just have to dive straight into it. It’s the mistakes that you learn from the most. The process is always changing for me. I feel like I know more every time I develop, print, or scan. As far as my setup goes, it’s just the standard Patterson developing tanks. I do all that part at the kitchen sink. The darkroom stuff is a different story. My partner and I have an extra room in the apartment for her painting and my printing work.
How long have you been shooting skate photography?
I’d say as long as I had my first camera. I’ve still got the prints in a box somewhere.
What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on?
Definitely making Candy. That project took over two years. A lot of film and a lot of time developing and scanning for that one.
Have you had any of your photos published?
I’ve had a few in Skitch Magazine. Also, close to half of the Candy book was me.
Who are your favorite people to collaborate with?
Anyone. Obviously, it’s easier to know how someone works when they skate, like John Sullivan, for example. You have to get in place quickly with him because half the time, he’ll land his trick first try. Other guys, you know you can take your time a bit.
You are still a very active skater. How do you decide what you want to shoot during a session when you might want to skate the spot yourself?
Usually, I just skate along with everyone else. When it looks like someone is ready to get a clip or do something I want to shoot, I rush to set up a camera. I’ve gotten pretty good at getting ready fast.
Is there anyone who you’ve wanted to shoot with but never had the opportunity?
Not anyone in particular. I want to get out to some different crews and bring the 5×7 sometime
Brandon Bobadilla (left) Anthony Medina (right)
What’s the most challenging photo you’ve ever taken?
There’s plenty of those. I’ve shot almost a whole roll on one trick a few times. Some contact sheets have 5, 6, 7 different angles and 20 photos. You can practically see the thought process when you have 36 images on one page. For me, the good ones are usually the last few.
Do you have an all-time favorite photo you’ve shot?
There are a few. I really like Brandon Bobadilla’s gap to bank from the Candy book.
How does skating today compare to how it was when you first began?
I don’t think it’s that much different. Skating was always progressing then, and it’s still progressing now.
Where do you want to take your photography into the future?
I’m focusing on my darkroom work more than anything. I like the process and the way time slows down in there. I want to sell some prints soon.
Is there any photographer who influenced your approach to shooting photos?
Not anyone that I know of. I wasn’t ever really taught by anyone. Sometimes Joseph Gammill and I would be shooting simultaneously, but I think we already had our own dance figured out by then. I like J. Grant Brittain’s work. Absolutely legendary skateboarding photographer.
Do you do any other kinds of photography not mentioned above?
I’ve been trying to get out and do some landscape stuff around Austin. I want to get all the creeks and streams before they’re completely trashed and built over.
Has COVID-19 changed how you guys go out skating and shooting?
Maybe at first, but now the street sessions are mostly normal. Film supply, on the other hand, seems slow to bounce back. Or perhaps I just always want the stuff that’s sold out.
On top of being a great photographer, you are also one of my favorite skaters. You recently were added to the Bloom team. Can you tell me how you began part of that team? And what being on Bloom means to you.
Thanks, and thank you! Kirill Braynin asked me if I was interested in joining Bloom a few months back. I was quite surprised, but I’m glad I ended up being a part of it. He has a lot of stuff planned, and I think it’ll really have a place in the blading community. I’ll let him trickle out all the details. It won’t be too long of a wait.
Ryan Rasmussen’s Skates (left) Grant Collins (right)
Candy Blade Video
Mason Richard is the skater featured in the header image.
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