David McKenzie Grant is a 39-year-old inline skater and photographer living in Bodø, in the north of Norway. He recently moved there after spending twelve years living in Copenhagen, Denmark. He began his journey on inline skates twenty-three years ago in 1998.
David MacKenzie Grant
How did you get into photography?
As with several photographers in this series, it all started through blading – a lot of creative souls have come from here, and it is inspiring to see people take it into other genres and make a life out of it.
What gear do you shoot with?
I’m shooting with a Nikon Z6 and an array of different lenses – for blading, I generally love going out with a simple 50mm setup. Occasionally I bring out my Olympus OM-2 film camera. There are no frames to waste when shooting with film, no chance to check anything before you get the film developed, and you really need to trust yourself that you get everything right.
Copenhagen summer with Dominic Bruce
How long have you been shooting skate photography?
I guess I started doing actual skate photography in 2005 upon buying my first DSLR. I always had a little point-and-shoot camera along to capture whatever stupid stuff we got into back then, but it was just useless when it came to capturing actual blading. Switching up to a proper camera and learning the secrets of postprocessing, I started getting shots that could match the feeling when your friends laced their tricks. From that point on, I have loved doing photography – inside and outside blading.
Have you had any of your photos published, skating or otherwise?
When it comes to print, I did a small photo-book on danish blading back in 2012, and I’ve had photos in a few print-zines, including Robbie Pitts’ BladeIn, which was a beautiful little zine. For the danish skatepark, Urban Street Zone, I did some big prints (3×2.5m / 8x10ft) – and I must say, it was quite impressive seeing my shots blown to such a size.
Besides blading, I do a lot of outdoor/adventure photography and have had publications in various outdoor magazines, mostly climbing adventures.
Setting up climbing routes in the Faroe Islands
Have you worked together with any skating brands?
I haven’t worked directly with brands – but I have had photos, previously shot, used for brand/product promotion.
What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on?
Backcountry skiing in Norway
But my favorite project within blading was documenting the final year of blade shows at Roskilde Festival. A crew of bladers came together from all corners of the world, camping out alongside 80,000 other festival-goers, partying every night ten days straight while doing skate shows for crowds of people.
Who are your favorite people to collaborate with?
Living in Copenhagen, I was surrounded by such a solid crew – great bladers and even better friends. There is nothing better than going out to session with and shoot with the boys (Love you all…!).
Christian Berg (left top ) Dominic Bruce (left bottom) Frederik Kofoed-Sørensen (right)
But my favorite missions have been with Frederik Kofoed-Sørensen – he has such a strong style, he knows what he wants his blading to look like and puts in the work – and it has all come together in some of my favorite shots.
What’s the most challenging photo you’ve ever taken?
As mentioned above, Frederik is one of my favorite guys to shoot. Still, he is probably also one of the hardest to shoot. Everything he does is fast-paced, no long grinds from this guy – he has put me on the spot a few times and had to a trick over and over again for me to catch him in just the right split-second. But that makes it all the much better when we get it right.
Is there anyone that you’ve wanted to shoot with but never had the opportunity?
I would love to shoot a series with some of the bladers I have always looked up to and who keep on pushing hard – guys like Gabriel Hyden and Leon Humphries. And I will probably never be content with my blading photography until I get a good shot of JoJo (Johannes Jacobi) street-skating…!
Do you have an all-time favorite photo you’ve shot?
It is hard to pick one all-time favorite – the images have stories and feelings connected to them. It is like pitching good memories against each other. The photos in this interview have all stuck to my mind. Even though many of them are from years ago, they are all favorites in their own right.
How does skating today compare to how it was when you first began?
Blading has been through several revolutions since I started back in ’98. The tricks, the style, and the crowd are ever-changing. The panel discussion at Winterclash 2018 with Arlo Eisenberg, Chris Haffey, and Jon Julio was quite a testament to what this young sport of ours has been through.
Media has changed, DVDs and regular print magazines have disappeared – but skate videos keep coming out in better production than ever. And many of them come accompanied by solid print productions – looking at my bookshelf, some of my favorites are the Cayenne Series, Vine St. Chapter II, Hermanos, Valo V, Champagne, Inti, 5th Floor…
The DIY spirit is still very much alive. We have professional events like Winterclash and Blading Camp, shops like LocoSkate and Hedonskate, and companies like Them and Solá Equipment, all run by passionate bladers – I feel good about where blading is today.
Where do you want to take your photography into the future?
I had a short spell at trying to do commercial photography, which made me realize that photography will always be a passion project. The desire to shoot has taken me on some incredible adventures, and I will keep pushing in that direction.
Moving up to Norway, I will focus more on backcountry adventures and scenery up here. And I would love to get more up-close and personal, portraying people at their passion – artists and artisans.
Anders Rishøj (b/w) Casper Cordua (color)
Are there any photographers who influenced your approach to shooting photos?
Starting out shooting, I remember having my walls plastered with Daily Bread cutouts, and they were an inspiration to me. Along the way, my view on photography has been influenced by photographers I have met and seen working.
A big shoutout has to go to Dominik Wagner, Felix Stroseztki, Beatriz Conde-Corbal, and Pietro Firrinicieli, who did the Broke! Exhibition at Summerclash 2013, which had a significant impact on how I see photography today.
Who is your favorite photographer?
When it comes down to it, my favorite photographers are the ones who manage to portray a culture, a people, or a place in a way that puts you in the middle of it.
I would highlight two photographers: Carsten Egevang, who does fantastic work in the arctic, focused on the harsh life of the Greenlandic Inuits and their amazing sled dogs, and Renan Ozturk, a professional adventurer, climber, and photographer, who does terrific adventure photography and shoots powerful portraits in the most challenging conditions. I urge you to go check out the portfolios of both these guys – carstenegevang.com and renanozturk.com.
When it comes to portraying blading culture, I think no one has captured it better than Pietro Firrincieli with his Blading Diary.
Has COVID-19 changed how you go out skating and shooting?
Well, I escaped the worst periods of the COVID-19 lockdowns in Copenhagen – in the spring and early summer of 2020, I was away in Greenland, where they shut down all flights keeping the country safe from the pandemic.
In Copenhagen, summer and fall were pretty chill, and people were hanging out, not much different from a regular year. We had many good sessions with everyone pushing hard to get the last clips for David Sizemore’s 5th Floor video.
You have spent quite some time in Greenland – what did you do up there?
During 2019 and 2020, I spent nine months in Greenland. I had (rather naively) been knocking on the doors of travel-agencies trying to get them to send me out as a photographer – that didn’t happen. Instead, I connected with Arctic Friend, a small company doing adventure tours in Greenland, and ended up working for them as a tour guide. Greenland is such an unreal place – so beautiful, so powerful, and once you’ve been, it is hard not dreaming of going back.
Images of Greenland
How does living in a small town in Norway compare to life back in Copenhagen?
Following Greenland, I spent the summer in Copenhagen and then headed north once again – this time Bodø, far up in Norway.
Copenhagen is an incredible town, and I damn sure miss the whole blading crew – if you’ve seen 5th Floor, you know why, but man, I really love it up here – right next to the sea and surrounded by mountains. The Norwegians love their backcountry, and the possibilities seem to be endless – I feel very much at home up here.
Is there anywhere to skate in Bodø?
We have quite a nice outdoor park up here, and there are some options streetwise – but judging by the look on the faces of the kids at the skatepark, I don’t think this town has seen any bladers in quite a few years. And although I’m very far from Oslo (1,189 km / 738 miles), I’m looking forward to visiting the Hanglosers crew for a session and a bunch of beers.
When summer comes around, and hopefully the whole situation with COVID-19 has calmed down, you’re all welcome up here for a session in the midnight sun!
Frederik Kofoed-Sørensen is the skater featured in the header.
- Visit dgrant.dk to see more of David’s photography.
- Make sure to follow David on Instagram to keep up with all his skating and backcountry adventures.
- Contact Big Wheel Blading for any questions, suggestions, story ideas or to contribute content.
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