The Deadbeat Club is a publishing house in its most organic form. Borne out of friendship and fringe interests, the publishers is pure, constantly adapting, and continuing the DIY punk ethos its members grew up with.
During the International Photography Festival in May, six members of the Deadbeat Club, Clint Woodside, Ed and Deanna Templeton, Grant Hatfield, Nolan Hall and Devin Briggs, travelled to London together to put on an exhibition in collaboration with Huck magazine and RVCA. None were initially professional photographers – their fascination with the medium has grown from skateboarding or surfing, creative sports which has allowed them to capture lifestyles, strangers and landscapes.
Each from different backgrounds, areas of the United States and varying ages, in person they continuously express a wholesome wonderment and gratitude for being able to do the job they do. Most have other full-time jobs, but take photographs and publish zines out of a love for sharing and conversation. One thing they all certainly have in common is that a point-and-shoot camera is strapped to their side at all times.
It’s Nice That went down to the opening of Deadbeat Club: Zineophobia to speak to each of the photographers about their approach to photography publishing, and life through their lenses in southern California.
Tell us about your work with Deadbeat Club?
Clint: I’ve been making zines for a long time, on my own kind of screwing around and needed an online outlet to sell them on. Six months into it Ed shattered his leg and I thought the dude was going to go nuts, so I said let’s make a split zine. That was the first time I had done a zine with someone else and it went really well; soon after Devin was putting something together and asked if I could sell it. It wasn’t until he asked for the logo to put on the zine, which was really weird for me, that it became a real thing. It felt good, like a family kind of vibe, so I just started putting more and more out, it organically fell into a publishing company.
The idea is to do an edition between 200-500, but still be as democratic as possible. The limited number is also because I don’t have a warehouse or anything, so it is designed to sell out but I want to make sure that the number is large enough so that anyone who wants one can get one.
Now, Deadbeat Club is about 50% of my day. Every morning I make coffee, check my orders, pack those orders and take them to the post office on the way to work. I do a lot of freelance book design professionally for bigger companies such as Rizzoli, it is a lot of fun and still mostly photo based. Then I come home and design the next project. It’s not easy but it’s what I love doing. We’re very blessed that people are feeling it.
What is your process editing the zines?
Clint: Everyone has got their own way of doing it. Some give me a pdf and most of the time I say let’s take a look, and do a bit of editing here or there. For the most part I get a stack of photos and they ask what we should do with it. It’s the whole gamete, some have a preconceived project, or hits from that year, it’s kind of a big hodgepodge of whatever feels right. It’s interesting because it’s turned into this core crew of photographers who have been involved from the beginning. They’re also my closest friends, I wanna do stuff with the people I know pretty well, that way there’s no bullshit. I can have the discourse that I need to have about things that might need changing and no one is going to get hurt or offended. They understand me and what I’m going for, and me with them, because I know them!
You don’t put out a zine on Deadbeat Club, you make your own and send it to me, I wanna see what is going on. What we’ve created, you can create yourself, this is not a sacred thing, everyone is allowed to do this.
Each of the photographs touches upon a lot of fringe interests, why do you think that is?
Clint: I come from skate and punk and these guys come from skate and punk, but there is this great land mass between us all and I love it. It’s fun to share that dialogue, like we’re all speaking the same language but through different dialects. That’s where we all come from so it’s not even something we’re trying to do, it’s what comes out of us. It’s a labour of love. Whatever money is made goes to the artist, but it’s not really about that anyway. I grew up in the DIY punk scene and you don’t make a lot of money from running a punk label and this is my equivalent. I’m making 7” singles for my favourite photographers, you make enough to make the next one and improve as you grow and grow, that’s where my brain is, being cost-effective but making beautiful shit.
How did you both meet?
Deanna: We’ve been married for 25 years and together for almost 30, we met through a skateboarder Jason Lee, who was dating my best friend. We all skipped school to go see a Red Hot Chilli Peppers concert, the guys just wanted to skateboard but we wanted to see the band. Three days later we became a couple and have been ever since.
Were you taking photographs back then?
Deanna: I had a two-part introduction. I took photographs when I was about 15 but had my camera stolen, then I started dating Ed and just dropped what I was doing for a while. A few years later I think my mum gave me a point-and-shoot and Ed thought I took pretty good photos and surprised me with a proper camera. In the middle of that Ed starting taking photographs.
Ed: Yeah I was just shooting like anyone does, tourist stuff. Around 1994 I realised I was living this really cool life, I’d turned a pro skateboarder four years earlier and it sunk in that I was living a life that not a lot of people get to live. I get to travel, get paid to do what I love to do, I thought I should be documenting this scene. Of course, the people that were surrounding me were really interesting and kind of crazy. I never really took drugs or drunk, but I was around the skateboard crowd that’s all about that. As a result I was an insider but felt like like an outsider, so I had an epiphany that I should document this as I’m sober and everyone else is kinda wasted. Ever since then it’s just carried on and on.
How did you get involved with Deadbeat Club?
Ed: I had known Clint for quite a while, as far back as 1998. He encouraged me to do a project with him four years ago to stop me going insane. After, he asked which guys I know shoot on film and it was these guys here. Devin and Nolan live near me so I was like, here are some younger kids that maybe don’t have the same outlets I do. I mean I’ve been skateboarding and doing art exhibitions for so long that I had a following and a name but for me it’s really great to be able to extend that to the younger generation, mostly because I feel that people did that for me. There is always some older, more established person that says hey you’re cool, come be part of this show, which is a huge breakthrough for you as a kid. That’s what I wanna do for these guys, and it’s snowballed into something we never expected.
Why do you think so many skateboarders get into photography?
Ed: I just think that skateboarding is a creative outlet in general, the types of people that are skateboarders are creators. That’s why you see skateboarders branching out, Spike Jonze is an Oscar-winning director and he was a skater, Mike Mills was a skateboarder in his youth too. Skateboarders do design work, commercial work, magazines, shoot photos, all of us are doing the same thing. I still do my own design work, the skate graphics for my company, painting, all of us just have multiple outlets. I think it comes from the DIY world that skateboarders come from, you never expect that anyone is going to do anything for you, so you learn it and do it yourself.
“Street photography is a mix of bravery and skill, what you’re willing to do, what lines you’re willing to cross.”
What are you showing in the Zineophobia?
Deanna: I’m showing a project called What She Said where I’ve been photographing women that remind me of myself when I was younger, either how I was or how I wish I could have been. Each photograph is then paired up with my diary entries from when I was 14 to 18. Not all young women do, but I had quite a tough time growing up and I think that’s what people connect with. What I had a hard time with, lots of other women do too: my weight, my looks, just being really hard on myself. I definitely blew things out of proportion, but when you’re little it’s so real, it’s like you don’t have the age of experience to look outside of yourself.
Are you still photographing every day?
Ed: Yeah, the idea of picking a subject and going to shoot it, which is big in photography obviously, was never for me, I just drift around and shoot whatever is in front of me. I don’t go to find anything and I miss so much more than I actually shoot, it’s a rare occurrence when I shoot something and don’t get slapped or something. Street photography is a mix of bravery and skill, what you’re willing to do, what lines you’re willing to cross. Even though it’s in public, it feels like you’re invading people’s privacy, it’s something that I don’t like doing but I love taking those photographs. I think the benefit outweighs the risk in a way; ultimately it gets on a wall and people are enjoying it.
Deanna: That’s what we’ve been doing on this trip, I always have a camera on me. When I’m out, something has to move me to push the shutter, I’m shooting anything that catches my eye. Pretty much everyone has been really kind and excited about it, most the time we’re just passing by, I ask, take a photo and we go our separate ways.
In working together would you say you look for different elements to photograph?
Deanna: We do have a similar eye for what we like but there are certain things that I know Ed is looking for and vice versa, but one of us might not have seen it yet, but if it’s something we both like it’s whoever shoots it first, a free-for-all! Other people have such a different look to what we do, which is really nice, you see into other people’s minds.
How did you join the Deadbeat Club?
Grant: Clint seemed like a nice guy, I had work to show, he offered, I organised a batch of photos and he was supportive of laying it out into a zine. I had some other ideas and he’s great at seeing what goes together. It’s natural working with him and it’s good having another set of eyes on your work, assessing what goes together. Obviously, you have your favourite shots, you can be biased or sentimental, but other people might not get it. I like seeing it through Clint’s eyes.
Can you tell us about the work your showing in Zineophobia?
Grant: I am showing mostly stuff from my latest Deadbeat Club zine Mercury Retrograde. It’s my third zine with Clint and shows how my work is becoming progressively more colour-based. I carry colour film in my point-and-shoot with me everywhere now. I enjoy it more, you can slip it in your pocket and identify colourful things that pop out at you. It’s a constant surprise getting the photos back that way. I like having the camera on flash too, it really brings out a colour that didn’t look that way when I shot it, especially just as the sun goes down and you put the flash on somebody that pops the sky behind them. I look for something a little bit off, it’s really hard to explain, I know if I see it. If there is good light that just inspires me to be on my toes, be ready to shoot something. I primarily shoot strangers so you gotta be tactful. Sometimes people have a go and ask if I just took their photo and I say yes or no depending on the size of the guy. I learnt a technique from Ed, the follow-through: you shoot someone and you don’t put your camera away if they spot you, just pretend you’re looking behind them, little tricks to put people at ease.
What work are you showing in Zineophobia?
Nolan: It’s a whole group of photos taken in Hawaii, gathered over maybe the last five years. I work for Vans with its surf programme so I travel a fair amount. Every year Vans has a tournament in North Shore, Oahu, so I go there but also get to shoot personally the whole time. We’re there for about six weeks, a two-week waiting period between three contests, a lot of spare time which is cool because I can float around. I went a bunch when I was a kid with my dad, it allows you to get comfortable in one place but it’s also hard to find new perspectives. It looks a lot more glamorous than it actually is, I do a lot office work too!
What’s it like in Hawaii? Are there certain parts you like to shoot?
Nolan: It’s exactly like what you picture in your head. The air is warm and humid and it’s the best place for surfing. We go in the winter time, because there are the right swell directions, all the islands get great waves which are quite iconic, it’s just the birthplace of surfing with a lot of history. I’ve shot some action of the guys actually surfing but I’ve always been more interested in what is going on behind the scenes. I love images of David Bowie or someone backstage, the stuff no one gets to see, a special look. With my work I’m so involved in the surf world that I am a bit unenthused to shoot the same as others.
How did you get into photography?
Devin: I’ve pretty much skated my whole life, and still do now every week. Photography is just a bit easier, safer. I got into it when I was a kid, 13 or 14. I got my first camera when I was 16, and had a video camera before that. I like watching old skateboarding videos for all the stuff that’s not skateboarding within it. I work with video editing for Vans now too.
What are you showing in Zineophobia?
Devin: It’s a mix of a collection of photographs of the past few years, I don’t really know what you would call it. All the photos have been in different Deadbeat Club zines, taken all around Huntingdon Beach where I live or Los Angeles in general, that’s also how I met these guys.
What do you look for?
Devin: I try to capture stuff you don’t see everyday, the stuff that people turn away at. I take a lot of photos of fighting, organised and non-organised, so I look for blood mostly but none of these ones have that in them. But none of the stuff I photographed happens everyday which is why each of these photographs were taken over a long long time.
IPF x Huck Presents: Deadbeat Club – Zineophobia is open until 28 May, 2017 at 71a Gallery, London.