Mike Lufholm is a 33-year-old inline skater and photographer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Self Portrait

How long have you been skating?

I just celebrated my 20th year on blades this year.

Forward air photo by Shane McClay

How did you get into photography?

I randomly received a reasonably large check in the mail from a previous employer that I wasn’t expecting, and I impulsively decided to purchase my first camera, a Canon T3i. I mainly just wanted it for the video functions and something for filming my friends and me skating. I didn’t have any intentions to use it for taking still photos. My friend started explaining the camera’s basic settings to me, and I began learning how shutter speed, aperture, and ISO all work together. At some point, it clicked and started making sense.

I had a few friends that were into painting graffiti, and they invited me to tag along and shoot some photos. We’d go for miles underground into drainage tunnels. The drains were pitch black, so I had to learn the light painting technique on a long exposure. It slowed down the process and helped me wrap my head around everything. I always wondered how people would write things with a flashlight, and I remember getting very excited when I began to figure it out. From there, I was hooked and got really into it.

I spent a couple of years going into the tunnels experimenting with whatever light source I could find. Eventually, I decided to start taking stills of my friends while we were out street skating. I continued to try to photograph anything I found interesting and have been hooked on it for over eight years.

Light Painting

How long have you been shooting skate photography?

I started taking my first skate photos about 5-6 years ago. Skate photography is pretty much the exact opposite of the long exposure photos I was making in the tunnels. Generally, to freeze the action of skating, you want to use a fast shutter speed. Much quicker than the 30-second (or more) exposures I was taking in the dark tunnels. Between these two extremes, photography started making more and more sense and continued to excite me.

Brad Magnuson truespin topsoul (left) Chemi Simiyu ao unity (top right) Jeph Howard forward air (bottom right)

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What was your first published skating photo?

Unfortunately, actual magazines have been kind of dead since I got into photographing skating. Still, I think the first thing I had printed was Farmer’s cover photo on the Intuition catalog.

Chris Farmer switch makio featured in the Intuition Catalog

Have your photos appeared in any magazine?

As I mentioned before, pretty much all skate magazines were dead by the time I got into photography. I didn’t think it’d ever happen, but Rory Mellehan made it happen when he rolled out Skipboot. He published a handful of my photos in issues 1 & 2, and it was so rad finally getting to see some of my photos printed in a magazine. Thanks, Rory!

Shane McClay 180 mute (left ) and lacing a topside acid (right)

Have you worked together with any skating brands? In so in what capacity?

When Chris Farmer moved back to Minnesota a few years ago, he hit me up to skate and take photos with him. I’m not going to lie; I was a little nervous about shooting with him at first, knowing that the pictures would be reaching a much larger audience than I was used to. Chris has always been one of my favorite skaters and getting the opportunity to photograph his skating was exciting to me. Over the years, Chris and I got out very frequently and took a lot of photos. In return, he never hesitated to reach out to Powerslide if there was anything I needed. I didn’t have an official agreement with Powerslide, but they were always good about hooking me up with skates and parts whenever I needed them in return for the photos I was taking of Chris. A few weeks ago, Tom Hyser from Rollerblade reached out to me and offered me an opportunity to be a brand ambassador. I accepted the offer, and I am incredibly excited to start working with Rollerblade in 2021!

Chris Farmer topsoul in the snow

What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on?

Filming and photographing The Crow Video with Dan Knapmiller and the rest of the crew was the best experience, and those years will always hold a special place in my heart. Dan and I would come up with bizarre ideas and execute them pretty much daily. The “Tony Hawk Touched” campaign was a joke that went too far and continued to go further and further. Dan and I were watching Youtube videos at his house one day and happened to catch a clip of Tony’s 900. After examining the clip frame by frame, it was evident that he touched. We couldn’t leave it alone. I was working for a print shop at the time, and using some material that was getting thrown away, I printed thousands of stickers, signs, and even a few large banners that we later brought to the stadium that was hosting the X-Games. Seeing Bob Burnquist laughing and pointing at our signs from the top of the vert ramp made it all worthwhile. The Crow Video is officially out on Blu-ray and for download at tonyhawktouched.com.

Chris Farmer, Dan Knapmille, and Chemi Simiyu

Who are your favorite people to collaborate with?

I am very fortunate to get to skate with many talented skaters here in Minnesota, and everyone still skates pretty regularly. There are too many rad people to list them all, but I’d have to say the most inspiring person to skate with is Kenji Yee. He has such a unique eye for tricks and the skills to execute them. The way he approaches skating is very beautiful, and I always enjoy roaming around the city with Kenji.

Kenji Yee soul to wallride (left) and with a zero fishbrain (right)

Is there anyone who you’ve wanted to shoot with but never had the opportunity?

Not anyone in particular. I always enjoy meeting new skaters and taking photos whenever there’s an opportunity, but I think I enjoy photographing my friends the most.

The Crow Team

Do you have an all-time favorite photo you’ve shot?

Probably this photo of Kenji. We went about a mile back into this tunnel to find a dry area to skate. It was a lot of work to make it happen, but well worth it.

Fishbrain Stall

What’s the most challenging photo you’ve ever taken?

I’ve put myself in some challenging situations with my camera spending hours outside in down to -50F (-45 Celcius) temperatures. I love photographing the north shore of Lake Superior, but there have been more times than I can count when I was absolutely miserable toughing out the cold to get the photo I wanted.

Palisade Head minus 50 degrees

Where do you want to take your photography into the future?

I want to continue to photograph anything I find interesting. My full-time job is in marketing at a metal supplier. I get to photograph a lot of cool machines and fabrication processes. It’s a rad job that I enjoy. In my spare time, I like shooting astrophotography. Northern Minnesota has an excellent view of the stars, and I try to photograph them whenever the conditions are right.

Ellingson Island on Lake Superior

Is there any photographer who influenced your approach to shooting photos?

John Haynes has been taking really, really good photos here in Minnesota for a long time. I’ve always appreciated his work, and I am sure my admiration for his photographs reflects how I approach skate photography a bit.

John Haynes shooting the Northern Lights (left) 40-minute exposure (right)

Do you do any other photography outside of skating?

I like to dabble in a lot of different realms of photography. My full-time job is in marketing at a steel supplier, and I get to photograph many fun things there, like laser cutting machines and welding. I enjoy going to the northern part of the state and photographing Lake Superior’s shores and the night sky in my free time. I also really enjoy skating around the city with my camera and finding good light and interesting subjects on the street.

laser machine (left) welding (top right) sunset street photography (bottom right)

Has COVID-19 changed how you guys go out skating and shooting?

I have not been photographing much blading lately. We still go out and skate frequently, but it sucks not giving your friends handshakes or hugs. We keep the sessions much smaller, and I avoid skateparks filled with people. Downtown Minneapolis is super empty, though, so it’s easy to follow social distancing guidelines.

  • Visit mikelufholm.com to see more of his photography.
  • Follow Mike Lufholm on Instagram.
  • Contact Big Wheel Blading for any questions, suggestions, story ideas or to contribute content.

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1 Comment

  1. That JH safety grab pic!!!!!

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