An Abbreviated History: Camera Beams

I guess before really diving in it might be worthwhile to extend a definition for the term "camera beam". For the purpose of this article, and so that people don't get caught up in semantics, we'll define the term as any intentional and direct eye contact with the camera. 

With that said - we'll touch upon different forms of 'camera interaction' so to speak, in order to create the appropriate context, and also because there's so much great shit out there that fell slightly outside the scope that would be a shame to leave out. 


I'm not sure how it happened, but it seems like camera beaming has been brought to a new level in modern-day skate society. This probably (definitely) has to do with the amount of time we all spend in front of cameras and more directly the amount of time people spend filming skateboarding / posting to Instagram. But we need to remember, before there were accounts like @miramiraskate, before there were iPhones, digicams, vx's, etc, there was the origin of the camera beam. And today - we recognize those guys. 

I think the best way to perhaps open it all up would be by showcasing two of the main originators of the camera beam, and the two who really demonstrate the to polar ends of the spectrum. 

Probably the best way to start it off - Hosoi. Christian demonstrates a classic camera beam. Mid-trick, really just being a cocky fuck more than anything. This is a perfect example of one end of the spectrum. 

Now on the other side of the spectrum we have another originator, but coming with a completely different approach. Lance Mountain. Lance's beams are light-hearted, fun, and really just what you'd expect from perhaps the original 'joke-skater'. I'd say that most modern beaming is derivative of the foundation that Lance built. 


Now I'll say that as we progressed into early nineties skateboarding started to take itself a bit more serious - even in early Koston parts you really didn't see much beaming. Skateboarding was really turning into a subculture, and the videos that came out that were actually put out on a mass level were more geared towards bringing it to the next level, doing some really reckless shit, and skating to Primus

That's not to say you couldn't catch someone every once in a while. 


An interesting thing happened, though, as we progressed through the 90's. To take a step back - early videos like Public Domain and and The Bones Brigade Video Show had this almost documentary-esque quality to them, where there was this weird attempt to make it look like they weren't filming a video, but just capturing people actually skating. Which I guess in a sense was cool - but there was always this sort of weird interaction with the camera, because these guys obviously knew they were being filmed. Anyhow - the point is, there was a return to this in the mid-to-late 90's that I thought would be important to touch on. 

The first would be Ray Barbee's part  in La Buena VidaNow don't get me wrong here - I fucking love this part. But honestly - what is going on here? Ray comes out of his house - head bobbing like he just he just smoked a Bob Marley spliffWho knows, maybe he did. 

The point is that this is your classic - 'leaving the house straight to skating' move. It's been done time and time again.


Since we're here and have already digressed a bit, let's just take a moment and honor one of the, if not the best frontside 360 all time. I've watched this loop about 100 times and don't intend to stop. 


Another classic example of this make it feel like we're just capturing skateboarding would be Mark's classic part in Non Fiction. I mean, what better way to make skateboarding feel real than to be in a car driving. 

But to be honest - these are sort of tangents from where we're really going with this article. Let's get back on track, but stick with the Gonz for the moment. He's obviously absolutely fucking insane, but without a doubt one of the greatest and most beloved characters in our community.

THE EARLY 2000's

I really don't think that any camera interaction that Gonz has ever had has had any real purpose or agenda behind it - no real intent to send a message, nothing purposely quirky to foster attention, just genuine stream-of-conscious madness.





So as we move into the early 2000's we really start to see a huge rise in the popularity of camera beams. People started to be more playful, and personalities really started to shine through. 

We still, however, saw a clear distinction between two main types of camera beams. Those who did it to look badass (exhibit A) and those who were doing it more as a joke (exhibit B). 

Exhibit A: Badass Beams

Exhibit B: Classic Beams


So by now you probably understand that there is a true art to the camera beam.  At this point I'm going to take us up to date by running through a list of some hall of famers. 


Rick McCrank.

One of the most, if not THE most loveable dude on a skateboard, Rick McCrank. I think the first time I saw Rick was in a Droors commercialI had no idea who he was, but could definitely tell he was Canadian. What I definitely didn't know is that he would end up being one of my favorite skateboarders all time, and an absolute legend in the art of camera beaming. 


Obviously there's this one from Yeah Right! which is perhaps his most famous camera beam, but to be honest it's not what I want to talk about. The reason why Rick McCrank is a legend is because he took it to the next level. 


I actually remember the moment that I fell in love with Rick. It was my first time watching Menikmati. Credits section. Rick elevates the beam, by not actually beaming. He is drinking a soda, boardsliding a rail, and then nods to the homie. This is one of the greatest moments in skateboarding. (click play on video)


Chris Milic. 

When it comes to post-2k10 parts that are super-fun to watch, Milic is pretty much unrivaled. Probably one of the few guys out there today with true personality that everybody can connect with. 

On top of all that, he's actually really fucking sick and pretty much shaped the way that skateboarding has evolved, trailblazing with companies like Welcome and now Frog. 


What I really want to dig into, though, is his part in "It's a Secret", by Diego Meek. (note - above gif is from worship friendship). Anyway - this part, aside from being one of the greatest parts in history, is loaded with classic camera beaming that should be celebrated. 

Truly just a beautiful part. And Prince for the song...*tears*. 


Eric Koston.

To the surprise of nobody, Koston has to make the list. The guy has really just set the bar for what it means to fucking beam the camera. He's the OG guy that can do anything on a board and makes it that much worse by making it look like it's just a fuckin' game. Shit aint no game no more Koston. Shit aint no game no more. 


Louie & Jerry.

Oh you thought I wasn't going to mention either of these two?

So to be honest, this was actually the inspiration for this article. About two weeks ago I sat down and watched Louie & Jerry's part in Subject to Change for the 503,282nd time - it was still just as good as the first. 

The song, the tricks, the attitude, the style, and of course the camera beams - it all just adds up. What I want to do here is actually just put the part here for you to watch, and really embrace. 



Let's go back now and really just relive some instant-classic moments. 

This is all in one part, folks. Step your game up. 

Well that pretty much brings us up to date, and to be honest that part gets me too stoked to keep writing. Adios. 



This guy sucks. 

Something interesting discovered during the research process of this article was the recurring 'shocka' beam. Something we noticed and truly did not expect was that some of the gnarliest skaters of all time demonstrated the shocka. Studies are underway as to whether or not this will cause some sort of trend, or what it really means. 

Oh yeah, and this one. 

An Abbreviated History: The Salad Grind


I want to start off by saying I might not be the best person to write this article, since I did not grow up in the early 90’s when this trick was invented.  Having said that, I want to give it a shot, because this is one of my favorite tricks. Since you can very easily figure out the origins of the trick (if you don't already know), I’ll keep that part brief. The trick was invented by Eric Dressen, legendary transition/early street skater of the late 80s-early to mid 90s. If you haven't seen his epicly later'd, you can probably go find him and ask him about it yourself at Glendale Park* where he still skates, or even at the Crailtap park from time to time.

*most insane review of all time

Dressen Crailtap Park

So, Dressen invented the trick, which he originally called the 'windshield wiper', then others called it the Dressen grind, perhaps still called the Dressen grind by older vert guys, skaters who quit in 1990, or annoying people just waiting for the opportunity to correct you. But eventually people started calling it the salad grind. Dressen----Dressing----Salad Dressing----bada bing bada boom.

SO this trick was invented on transition, but like all other tricks, it doesn’t take long for them to be taken to the streets**. Colt SOTY 15.

Some people might correct me here, but for the sake of the substance of this article I am going to forego any proper semantics and call the backside version the  "backside salad". I feel like this is more like calling it a "backside smith" instead of a Monty grind.  At the end of the day Owen Wilson calls it a backside salad and goes uncorrected by Carroll, Howard and the rest of the cohort of legends therein, so I’ll move right ahead.

I’m going to make a perhaps outrageous claim here, and give Brad Staba a lot of credit when it comes to the popularity of the salad grind in the early to mid 2000s. In the mid-to-late 90s, we weren’t really seeing too much of this trick. People were doing 5-0s and feebles on rails, but nobody was really fucking with the salad. I mean, it’s kind of an insane trick to do on a rail, especially if you had never seen anybody do it. If you don’t lock in perfectly, you’re fucked. Anyway - I think Brad's in his Nervous Breakdown part was the first time that I really noticed the trick.  It wasn't just a 5-0 180 out a rail, but a truly grinded salad, held onto tightly, but caressed. Handled roughly, but not mistreated. I'm sure Templeton did thousands before this, but this one really stuck out for me.

Staba 1

Now - my theory on salad grinds down rails is that this is how it started, as a way to make a 5-0 fakie happen on a rail.  Almost like a backside blunt to fakie. Then it evolved by going to regular. Then people took it frontside. This is all speculation and I’m sure there’s some forgotten maniac out there who was front salad grinding rails before we were all born.

In the early 2000s, the salad grind experienced a huge resurgence, primarily thanks to the Emerica kids, Spanky, Matt Allen, Leo, etc.  Even Evan Hernandez was throwing them down in gym shorts.  These guys fuckin’ loved salad grinds. Frontside, backside, nollie, didn’t matter. If they could lock in, they were sending it down whatever they could find. For me personally, I think the most memorable is Matt Allen’s down the Hollywood High 16. Not only did this trick make absolutely no sense to me, he was doing it down set’s I wouldn't even want to walk up. The salad grind was back, and all was good in the world.

But then it kept spreading. You started seeing them everywhere. You couldn’t watch a full video between 2001 and 2004  without seeing one of these things. It was a fucking epidemic. 411's, ON Videos, Transworld parts, Thrasher covers, skateparks, dumpsters, drive-ins, and dives, you name it and somebody was salad grinding it.

Carroll Dressen ad

Anthony Acosta

Strubing Thrasher Feb 96

Matt Allen Hollywood High

So at this point you might be asking yourself, "wait, but then why don't we see more of these today?".

Well, two things happened:

  1. Justin Eldridge’s part in Yeah Right!
  2. Chris Dobstaff’s part in Subject to Change.

This was the shift. It went too far. Things got out of hand. Nobody could control the salad grind. Justin Eldridge throws a switch front salad in the middle of his part, and right when you think the part might be coming to a close, hits us with a switch flip front salad. Dude. Come on. Switch flip front salad. Why?


Okay, but that was it, right? Surely nobody could be more reckless with one single trick in their part.


Wrong. We then got hit with Dobstaff’s part in Subject to Change. This part may be single-handedly responsible for killing the salad grind.

A brief overview of Chris Dobstaff's part in Subject to Change.

1.) Front salad

Dobstaff 1

2.) Front salad shove

Dobstaff 2

3.) Kickflip backside salad

Dobstaff 3

4.) Just a straight-up long-ass front salad

Dobstaff 4

5.) Switch front salad Brooklyn Banks

Dobstaff 5





SO, what have we learned here today? Take it slow. When you find something nice, treat it with care. Don't over-do it. Keep it simple. There is no need to add pepper when that sucker is spicy to begin with. Now let's get out there and do some responsible salad grinds.




P.S. In case you were wondering, it is possible to learn this trick after 12 years of skateboarding.

Special shout out to the boy Ian Coughlan for inspiring this article.

**it's a reference to the song.