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.
A QUICK DIGRESSION:
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 Vida. Now 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 spliff. Who knows, maybe he did.
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.
HALL OF FAMERS:
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 commercial. I 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)
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*.
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.
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.