Meet the ladies behind the lenses of this month’s For Girls Who Ride feature on Janthavy Norton. This Arizona based crew talks to us about everything from beating the heat, gear essentials to summer travel plans. If you want to get into skate photography and filming, let Nikki & Sarah be your guides! Follow their work on Instagram @nikki_hand & @phxsarah.
Photographer Nicolette Hand
And filmer Sarah McCann
What city do you live in, and what inspires you most about where you live?
N: I’m originally from Southern California, but I moved to Flagstaff, AZ about three years ago for school. I already loved shooting landscapes but living here made me fall in love with it even more! Anywhere outside in nature is my absolute favorite place to shoot. Everything about where I live inspires me. This town and my friends inspired me to take on shooting skateboarding. It is still new to me but I love it and I am so excited to get better at shooting it!
S: I live in Phoenix, AZ. I find a lot of solace in capturing things that make me feel good, which generally tends to be the desert, and my friends.
When did you first pick up a camera, and how has that affected your life?
N: I was 13 when my parents noticed I was obsessed with taking photos. They got me my first DSLR camera for Christmas that year. My passion grew into something I wanted to do forever and I still strive to do just that!
S: I first started taking pictures when I was really young, probably 9 or 10. I then branched off into shooting film, which is my favorite thing to do aside from capturing videos of good times that I can look back on. Sometimes I get a bit too distracted on capturing the moment rather than living in it, but all around, I think that this passion fuels my life in all aspects.
What photographers, films or publications do you follow to feed your creative brain? And - is there a new style or technique you’ve been dying to test out?
N: I think with landscape photography I’d have to say, Chris Burkard, National Geographic, Pete McBride, and of course Ansel Adams. For skate photography, I just recently subscribed to Thrasher Magazine to get inspiration! I’ve always wanted to try Lomography. Lomography is basically shooting with a cheap film camera from your hip.
S: I've been following Kevin Russ and Olivia Bee for years. I cruise Instagram quite a bit to see inspiration too but I try not to get too caught up on other peoples' work. I really want to shoot video on film or try different analog ways of documenting what I love!
What kind of subjects do you prefer to capture? Is skateboarding or shooting with Janthavy a frequent one?
N: I love to capture this stillness of nature, but recently I have become obsessed with shooting fast moving skaters. It has been a struggle to get used to a moving target. Skating has quickly become something I have been shooting more frequently because of Janthavy for sure! After Janthavy and I met we became instant friends! It was only a given to put our talents together and create something awesome!
S: I usually bring a camera with me wherever I go, whether that's my DSLR or a 35mm point and shoot. I've just recently gotten into shooting videos and pictures for my friends who skate, but I really enjoy it. I've been best friends with Janthavy for 17 years, and I've definitely taken thousands of pictures and videos of her. She's a lot more outgoing than I am, lol - she loves being in front of the lens whereas I love being behind it.
Do you ever get in front of the camera?
N: I try not to haha! I never know what to do with my hands or face really! Snowboarding is really where it started for me. I got obsessed with it this last season and live 25 minutes away from the chair lift, so I was going 3-4 times a week. Once the snow melted I got bummed so I bought a skateboard and fell in love with it! I ride a Welcome board called The Magician on Son of Moontrimmer. I like the funky shaped boards! I’ve been riding consistently since the snow melted really, so about 4 and a half months.
S: I'm definitely not talented enough to feel comfortable skating on camera, but I'm working on it! I skateboarded a lot as a kid, but Janthavy is putting a board together for me so I can boost my film game instead of getting mostly stationary shots.
What are your upcoming shoot plans for the summer?
N: I recently got back from Iceland, but I really want to make a trip up to Colorado to skate and take photos of the beautiful summer scenery! It is so beautiful up there this time of year. I know we will 100% continue to collab! Nothing like creating with some of your best mates!
S: Currently, Janthavy and I are roadtripping all over California, and I've been shooting as much as possible! That includes her skating and generally being a dork, of course. We will definitely collaborate tons more; some really exciting things are coming.
What’s your process like? Talk us through concept, equipment selection, and editing. What’s your favorite part!? Any what’s your go-to equipment?
N: I always have a small idea or see a spot that may work as I’m driving by, but never really plan anything. I kind of like to have to use my brain and try new funky things while shooting! I take all my lenses with me mainly because even if I only use one the entire shoot, I still have it if I really need it. My go to is my Canon 16-35mm because it is my favorite lens for landscapes and I can still throw it on 35mm and shoot portraits with it if I really needed to! My favorite part of shooting is when I’m done! Knowing I have all the shots and happy with the shoot is the best feeling! I also really love the editing process too.
S: When it comes to shooting for Janthavy, I generally try to get her take on how she wants the video or shot to come out. She obviously knows a lot more about skating than I do, but I always try to give my creative input and push her to get a better and better clip. Since I've gotten into shooting skating within the past few months, my equipment is limited. But, I shoot on a Canon Rebel T6, usually with a wide angle lens. With editing, I think it's always a great idea to get humor, talent, and creativity blended together and captured as perfectly as possible.
Any tips and tricks for new photographers or filmers? Gear suggestions?
N: Never shoot on Auto!!! It is so amazing to me that I get to control the light and color that goes into my camera! If you’re shooting landscapes, wide angles rule and that should be your first non-kit lens purchase! If shooting skating, I do like the fish look, but would really like to play with other lenses to see what I really like.
S: Don't pay too much attention to what other people are doing. It's really easy to compare yourself to anyone and everyone online, but just keep your focus and capture what makes you feel good.
I try to stay as budget-friendly as possible, and I got my Canon Rebel T6 on a huge sale, which was such a score! For shooting film, get the weirdest and least straight forward equipment as possible. Alter your cameras, use expired film, bleach your Polaroids, make it fun and surprising.
How does preparing for shooting skating compare to other things you shoot?
N: I have to remember a lot to use my legs and move around. When I am shooting a landscape scene there is usually minimal movement. With skateboarding I am constantly moving and doing weird body movements to get a certain angle that I want.
S: The weather in Phoenix definitely plays a huge role in preparation. With what I normally shoot, which is just arbitrary shots of places I see with people I love, it all sort of happens naturally. But with skating in 100+ degree weather... a lot more goes into it! We basically have to plan around the sun. Avoid heat stroke, dehydration, sunburn, etc.
What’s your favorite piece from the new Nikita SS18 Collection? How will you wear it!?
N: The Jetty Shorts are my favorite for sure! Perfect to just throw on a cute comfy tee shirt and go skate in!
S: My favorite piece is the Leeward shirt! It's so comfortable and casual, and the gray color goes with everything. It's easily dressed up or down, which I love.