You don’t know him, but you’ve seen his work: The rise of Creative Commons has leveled the playing field for bloggers, giving many the opportunity to illustrate stories with free-to-use images that are at times comparable to wire photos. But the quality varies, and it’s rare to find someone sharing high-quality pictures consistently — but Gage Skidmore pulls it off. The 18-year-old photographer, who shoots celebrities and conservative politicians largely as a hobby, has uploaded nearly 9,000 photos to Flickr since early 2008, and thanks to favorable licensing, finds his photos of famous and important people in use all over the Web — including such sites as MSNBC, Fox News, The Atlantic and Mashable. What drives his work? Click on to see his take on the matter.
“Ron Paul, by far”: While Skidmore, beyond taking photos, largely doesn’t interact with his photo subjects (which recently included — when he took photos at WonderCon in Anaheim, Calif. — the cast and crew of “Community”), if he had to choose a favorite person to shoot, it’d be Ron Paul. “He is just such a kind hearted person who’s only intention is to spread the message of freedom throughout the country, which is a tough task at any age, but to be 76 and be as energetic and enthusiastic as he is is remarkable,” he says. “Even I can hardly keep up with him.” It helps, he says, that Paul always carries a smile on his face. “That makes my job much, much easier.”
Photo pass: Not needed. While Skidmore travels to a number of venues to get his photos, his process of actually getting the shots he needs once he’s at the events doesn’t sound particularly difficult — he says that most of the events he goes to are free to enter. “My advice to people looking to get into political photography is to simply dress professionally, and get the best photography equipment you can afford,” he suggests. “Then practice, practice, practice.” Skidmore may be known for his photography, but that doesn’t mean it’s a career choice — surprisingly, he dislikes taking photos. “My only enjoyment in photography is seeing my photos afterwards being received positively,” he says, saying that he enjoys the wide audience they receive as well as the people he meets as the result of his work. Our take: If he ever chooses to go pro, he could totally do it — and possibly charge a few bucks along the way. (photos by Gage Skidmore) source