AN INTERVIEW WITH Z.Y. PHOTOGRAPHER SEAN CRONAN
Where did you grow up?
Hamden, Connecticut. Right next to New Haven.
When and how did you get into skating?
I started in 7th grade, so I’m pretty sure it was the fall of 1984?
What was skating like for you as a kid?
Skating as a kid was awesome. My parents were really cool, and put up with me having a half-pipe in the backyard. It was 8 feet tall with 7 foot tranny’s. 12 feet wide. We had a roll-in on one side, cause all the ramps you saw in the mags had roll-ins. Stupid. We all learned how to drop in blindfolded, ’cause my friend Greg thought it would be less scary that way. He had a bandana, and we all took turns. It was ridiculous. My friends and I had no idea what we were doing. No internet back then.
I know you used to train into NYC as kid to skate the city. What was that like as a kid?
Awesome! At first, it was because I was going to hardcore matinee’s at CBGB’s. Take the train in early (cause none of my friends and I drank at the time and we would all be up super early), skate around, go to the show, skate around some more, then go home. It’s only an hour and a half away, so it’s not a big deal. After a bit it turned into going to the city any chance I had to go skate.
At what age did you get into photography?
At about the same time that I started skating. I was able to use my dad’s old camera, and I would just take pictures of my friends whether they were skating, riding bmx, or in a hardcore band.
Who were some of the first people you shot with that you were hyped to shoot photos of?
So many. I started out just shooting photos of my friends. It just happened that my friends were Jim Greco, Tim Upson, Jim Gagne, Mat O’Brien, Brian Gaberman, A bit later it expanded to Donny Barley, and Brian Anderson. All these guys were from Connecticut, and as they were starting to get sponsored, I just happened to be the friend with a camera who kinda knew how to use it. We would all meet up at a skatepark called the Playground, which happened to be centrally located in the state
You went to collage in NYC. What school did you attend and how did it go.
SVA. I went for one year. It was a waste of time.
I remember you telling me that one of your profs told you that “you weren’t going to amount to anything doing skate photography”. What exactly did he say and how did it come up?
It was during a weekly critique. He told me exactly that in front of the whole class. He said that it was all fisheye photos of some guys jumping in the air. He told me that there was no skill involved. I told him that he had his head up his ass. That didn’t go over so well.
You lived out West for a while. What was that like? What were you doing out there?
It was really good. I enjoyed it a lot. I worked as the staff photographer for Tum Yeto. I was responsible for shooting the ads for Foundation, Pig wheels, Hollywood, Ruckus, Dekline, and sometimes Toy Machine every month. As well as shooting interviews of all the guys for all the magazines and going on all the trips. It was non-stop shooting for almost four years.
What brought you back East?
My wife wanted to move back East to be closer to family.
You are the Staff Photographer for ZOO. What’s it like to shoot with the ZOO crew?
Really awesome, and I’m not just saying that. I’m friends with everyone on the team. I like to think that we are friends first, and then we have to shoot stuff second.
What are some rad places you’ve got to travel with ZOO?
China, South Africa, Europe multiple times, Australia, all over the US, Japan, I’m sure there is more, but it’s all a blur.
What’s a skate photo that you’ve taken that you are proud of or is special to you.
I really like the Aaron Suski Wallie Back 180. I just think it’s a classic looking NYC photo. Another is the Donny Barley Back Nosepick. We drove around for hours looking for that spot. It was a really cold winter day too. It’s hard to take a bad photo of Donny.
Do you like to shoot non-skate photos? If so, what do you like to shoot?
I like to shoot landscapes, cityscapes. I like to shoot photos of my son. Honestly though, I shoot so much skating, and stuff for work, that I don’t really shoot too much other stuff. Sometimes you just need to take a break.
Zoo just released the Cronan Series, featuring your photos of NYC. How did that come about? What do you think of the series?
Whenever I’m out with the guys I always tend to shoot scenic stuff, usually when people are warming up, and I’m just sitting around waiting. I think it all started with the photo on Zered’s board. Everyone at Zoo really liked that photo, and the idea came to build a board series around that photo. It took probably eight months or so just because of my travel schedule, but I think the series came out really great.
What would you say to the prof who said there’s no future in skate photography if you had the chance right now?
I wouldn’t even waste my time. People like that just have no imagination, which is really pathetic because he teaches at an art school. My advice is to just do your thing, and don’t worry about what other people say or think. It’s your life, and you only get one shot.
For more on Cronan, visit: seancronanphotography.com.