Mark Heuss is a 38-year-old inline skater and photographer living in Speichersdorf, a tiny town in northern Bavaria, Germany. Originally from Mainz, he moved away quickly after finishing school and spent the past decade working for Powerslide in Bayreuth. Mark began his skating career 25 years ago, back in 1996.
How did you get into photography?
I always was drawn to taking pictures and filming stuff. My first 35mm snapshot camera was handed to me in 1991 when I was around 8-years-old. My family’s communion money was wisely invested into a clumsy 8mm camcorder when I was ten… It just kept being a part of my life ever since, always jumping back and forth between videography and photography.
What gear are you currently using?
Do you really want to know? I feel like I tend to get stuck in some kind of gear fetish too easily. My basic setup is the Nikon Z6, 24-70, 70-210, 11 Fisheye, fast 50 & 85, strobes, and so on. The Z6 works great for my double photo/video use.
How long have you been shooting skate photography?
I always took pictures of my blading friends, so you could say I’ve been shooting skate photography for 25 years. Maybe a little more focused from the age of 16 on with my first real SLR, the lovely Canon AE1. Then, just out of nowhere, digital photography happened, which was really out of my price league (these were my University years, and I could only afford one pricey hobby, so from 2003 to 2010, I was forced to be a video guy only). Once I was done attending university in 2010 and got a job, I was able to play catch-up again and slowly re-started, taking more photos.
Has any of your work appeared in any magazines or publications?
Honestly, I do not know (memory of a goldfish). I guess some of my work for Powerslide was published here and there. No big print releases as far as I know. Oh, wait, my portrait of Nick Lomax got printed in an English newspaper a few years ago without me being aware of it. Does that count? And I remember one shot of Mirek in Berlin got used as a cover of a French skate shop catalog, which is funny, as it’s Mirek from Hedonskate. The blade world is semi-smart, innit?
Mirek on Cover (left) – Original photo (right)
Have you worked together with any skating brands? In so in what capacity?
Yes, I did. For the last 10 years, I managed the media department of Powerslide, mainly focused on the video end. As Powerslide is the same company as USD, Kizer, UC, Gawds, Ennui, and several other brands, I had my fingers in much of their online presence, print ads, and catalogs.
Before that, I always was involved with blading companies, mainly on the video side. But that was ages ago.
I got sucked deep into the video SEO thing around 6 years ago, which led me to work with some of my friend’s companies as an online marketing/search engine help specialist: Ucon (hey, it’s Jochen Smuda and Martin Fussenegger, so that counts as blading to me), Hedonskate (love my Polish bladers), Blading Deutschland (German Facebook fan-zine), our beloved Ricardo Lino, the Blade Ventures guys, and so on…
Right now, blading wise, I do studio product photography for my friends at Soma Clothing + I pretty much do every task for my micro-brand experiment, Entente Goods, which I am super pumped about.
What’s the favorite project you’ve worked on?
I am completely in love with expanding my concrete series. So fingers crossed, I will be on the hunt for perfect skate park shapes and contrasts for years to come. You can create surreal structures with twisted perspectives, lines, and weird obstacle shapes open a whole new universe every time I go for a little session. It’s deeply blading connected, and in the same way, it is not at all. I think I like this.
Who are your favorite people to collaborate with?
I really enjoy shooting with all of my blade family friends. Eugen Enin needs a special mention; that guy is just from another world and makes my life very easy when we are out shooting together.
Is there anyone who you’ve wanted to shoot with but never had the opportunity?
As a German countryside boy, I guess I am missing out on pretty much everyone in the states. I heard there are some talented people doing wheel maneuvers in California, right?
Do you have an all-time favorite photo you’ve shot?
Tough one. The satisfaction I get from my pictures goes through the typical phases, from euphoria at the spots to frustration when looking at it at the computer for the first time to „it’s somewhat ok-ish“ after a few weeks to complete shame looking back at published pictures a few years later. Let’s say I need to improve. The following three images stand out as my favorites.
Rudi’s true mistral is a great moment with so much movement going on. The ledges are located close to a big hospital complex in the south of Munich. The helicopter was probably just saving a life; the jogger on the right side is trying hard to expand his life and track every narcissistic step of it, all while the omnipresent statue of Alex Rudolf flexes hard in a sliding pose to see where he is heading. The skate shot itself is not perfect, but the overall image is still pleasing somehow.
Jens Küfner topsouling a pool corner. A straightforward picture, with not much room for interpretation at first sight. I took this on a beautiful „Kaiserwetter“ sunny day with Jens in the Bavarian hinterland of Burgkunstadt and totally escaped my personal life mess at that time with a picturesque über-conservative blade shot. Proof that escapism does work!
Bobi Spassov’s massive 180 at last year’s Winterclash. For me, this was THE trick of the day, and I somehow managed to get the shot as I imagined it to look like: Bobi being isolated on his own level, surrounded by the energy of the crowd, all eyes on him.
This fits so well to the persona of Mister Spassov, the prominent alpha male leader role, the isolated location of him living his professional life in Israel, and his very unique style/trick approach.
My good friend Michi helped out all day as a mobile strobe pole assistant. It was a frustrating joy to communicate and direct him as my only light source, screaming and gesticulating through hundreds of drunk bladers, sprinting and punching my way to the spot, locking the manual focus, all just in time for Bobi to take off.
I think I was in contact with Hedonskate after this to get the picture printed, but I am not sure if that ever happened. And Bobi, I think I forgot to send you the full-res version. Sorry!
What’s the most challenging photo you’ve ever taken?
There is this one picture I took for a shadow series I did in 2018 where I had to balance on a shaky ladder, standing on one foot on the very top with the arms and camera all the way to the sky, shooting blindly while trying to keep the lines and shapes in place just as I imagined them before, all while lots of skateboarders and scooter kids cruising fast besides and underneath my weakly built half-human crane. I kept falling after every shutter release, and it was sketchy, but it turned out to be worth it in the end.
Concrete shades. Marktredwitz 2017.
How does skating today compare to how it was when you first began?
In my humble opinion, I think it can not be compared. The 90’s, small teens, no internet, pretty much everything was an open canvas. Today, it is more established but keeps happily morphing to whatever people make out of it, which is great. I try to keep my view of the activity, the culture, the market, the industry, and the people as simple and positive as possible. So far, this is the best way to deal with it for me.
Skate photography-wise, it is better than it has ever been. Technology is on our side, and every form of capturing and showcasing skating is ten times more accessible and easier than it was 25 years ago.
Where do you want to take your photography into the future?
For the future, I want to improve, get better at what I do. Lifelong learning process. Hunt for more fish-eye pictures! Kind of because it is our niche specialty and creates a wide perception threshold between people in our tribe and the outside world. Also, I need to push and expand my creative side a bit more and try to do visual Neuland (at least for me). This might be out of interest for the blade world, but I feel this might be the right thing to do.
Is there any photographer who influenced your approach to shooting photos?
Growing up with Daily Bread, the biggest influences were their photo crew, Ryan Schude, Dan Busta, and so on. The Keith Wilson shot off Bryan Jaggers’ parallel 180 next to the basketball hoop at night is still one of my all-time favorite photos. Everything in this picture is perfect.
Bryan Jaggers’ parallel 180 next to the basketball hoop. Photo Keith Wilson.
Who is your favorite photographer?
There are plenty of photographers/artists who I look up to—Skate photo-wise, 100% Adam Kola, what a great guy. Everything from Mike Dempsey and Paraic Mc Gloughlin, so clever, so good. Gabriel Hyden only needs to scratch his nose and still would be the epicenter of elegance. Clemens Ascher for composition and message.
Do you do any other photography outside of skating?
Yes. I try to implement photography as a game with my kids. My son enjoys taking pictures a lot, so I am really juiced to see how that will develop. Plus, it is easier to motivate the kids to go out for a hike in the woods when you call it a photo safari.
Does my concrete stuff still count as blading photography? I am trying to do more of the black and white shape parts, and I really enjoy it. I luckily got into the art world with those form studies a bit and will try to explore these fancy framed baryta prints a bit more in 2021.
Has COVID-19 changed how you guys go out skating and shooting?
Not much. Of course, we try to follow the rules and are aware of the special situation. The more interesting part is to read the reactions of people. There is a wide variety of fear, super carefulness on the one side to denying, and anti-state-conspiracy theories on the other side. I try not to get caught in the debate, stay healthy, and be happy and productive instead.
Are you taking any precautions while out against COVID-19?
The basics. We wear masks and social distance. You are in the US, so it is a whole different level, I guess. Here in the countryside, it is still pretty chill, and our life has luckily not been affected very much (yet).
- Visit markheuss.com to see more of his photography and video work.
- Follow Mark on Instagram.
- Visit ententegoods.com to check out Mark’s inline frames, bearings and apparel.
- You can also follow Entente Goods on Instagram.
- Contact Big Wheel Blading for any questions, suggestions, story ideas or to contribute content.
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