Giovanni Reda
Photographer / Director / Filmmaker

Giovanni Reda

Photographer / Director / Filmmaker

Los Angeles, California

www.giovannireda.com
Instagram @giovannireda
 

WHAT DO YOU DO?

My name is Giovanni Reda and I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NYC. I am a photographer and a film maker. I have been shooting skateboarding for 23 years now and I have also been shooting portraits and documenting people for just as long.

I have shot for every major skateboarding publication including Thrasher, Transworld and Skateboarder. I was the photo editor for the now defunct Big Brother magazine which gave rise to MTV's Jackass. I've traveled the world twice over and shot photos on every major continent and for many different publications abroad as well. Shooting skateboarding has opened many doors for me and I was able to meet lots of amazing and interesting people, which led to me shooting more portraits and opening me up to different ideas and styles of shooting. Around 2006 I shot a portrait book, which was published by OHWOW and came out in 2009 called Demigods and Cosmic Children.

When two pro skateboarders got together and decided to make a website called the Berrics, I had a weekly video blog on their website called Wednesdays with Reda, for about five years straight I had a reoccurring video piece that was broken up into 3 parts every Wednesday. The videos gained a lot notoriety in skateboarding and went viral. At one point I made over 900 videos for the Berrics. This led rise to a chef friend of mine doing a TV show for the Esquire Network where I became the MC and co-host of a cooking competition show called Knife Fight. I started to direct more and made a short film with Giovanni Ribisi, I wrote and directed another short film for the Standard Hotel as well as a few music videos and a commercial for Converse.

My love for documenting people has grown and I recently made a short film doc, which was featured on Vice Sports about a gay pro skateboarder coming out named Brian Anderson. This film I made about him is the shining star in my career. We received so much press on it. We were featured in the NY Times, Time, BBC Global, Guardian UK, and Rolling Stone to name a few outlets. It was also picked up by major gay blogs, every skateboarding outlet and Brian was even featured in Out 100. Brian has told me many times that I have helped change his life. It’s a rewarding feeling to be able to look at your body of work and know that what you made has positively raised awareness in a community, and helped some one change their life for the better.

 

WHAT STEPS DID YOU TAKE TO GET TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?

When I decided I wanted to shoot skateboarding, I took the train to NYC from my home in Brooklyn everyday and I would not go home till I shot at least one person skating. I started gaining the trust of the skaters to shoot them doing their tricks for ad's, and for pages in the magazines. I'd be out for hours on end and I made sure I'd shoot something. This is the way I work, now a days I keep my camera with me and I shoot a portrait every day. I need to keep myself busy and my creativity flowing.

 

FOR OTHER PEOPLE IN YOUR FIELD, WHAT DO THEY USUALLY LACK?

I can't really say what people in my field lack, when I look at my peers I have to say I'm in awe of them. We all are here doing what we can to tell a story with our pictures, whether it's still or video. I feel they do an amazing job and I try and learn from what they do. I'd have to say for myself in what I lacked would be not telling the whole story when I was younger just trying to shoot "tricks" that was all I cared about. Now I feel the need to document the entire day. I also feel I always got caught up in not trying to do what someone else did already. Take Ari Marcopoulos who's a friend of mine and an amazing photographer, he was there in NYC in the early 90's documenting skaters. Shooting photos of them hanging out. I felt like, I shouldn't do this, Ari already did it. looking back it's a mistake, I've lost amazing opportunities to shoot a piece of history because I was worried about looking like a hack and I was copying him, instead of being inspired him.

 

WHAT'S YOUR STYLE/PERSPECTIVE/TASTE? DO YOU HAVE A PROJECT THAT REPRESENTS THIS? 

I feel that what represents me most is the last short doc I made about Brian Anderson. I know I can tell great stories well, and I want to tell more of them. If I'm behind the still camera, the video camera or in front of it. That is what I'm going to do. Is tell peoples stories, maybe they're real or maybe they are off a script, or maybe that story is told through still photography, but that's what I do. I'm hoping to be doing it on a larger scale then I'm doing it now.

 

WE ARE ALL SLASHIES WITH MULTIPLE SKILLS, WHICH ONE DO YOU WISH YOU COULD DO MORE OFTEN?

I've been asked this question a lot and in my experience going on as many meetings as I have, the commercial landscape keeps changing. At one point it made sense to do one thing. Be a photographer, be an actor, be a director, you can not do all of it. Now a days it seems, If you are not a one stop shop than they'll move on to someone who is. What I focus on is making great content, be it photo or video or whatever it is. I want it to be the best it can be. My focus has been to work with great people, which I have been lucky enough to do. I surround myself with an amazing group of talented creative people.

 

IF YOU COULD HIRE SOMEONE FOR $20/HR, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE THEM DO TO MAKE YOUR DAY EASIER?

Nothing, I don't think that's something I would need. If you want things done right you do it yourself.

 

LET'S BRING OUT THE TIME MACHINE. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD HAVE TOLD YOURSELF, WHEN, AND WHY?

I would have told myself to shoot more photos of the people and the times around you. The world is always going to change, especially in NYC where I grew up. You can count on that place changing. It's forever in an evolution and you never know whats gonna stay and whats gonna go. What's that poem by Robert Frost? Nothing gold can stay? I wish I shot more of that gold.

 

IF YOU COULD TALK TO AN EXPERT TO GAIN MORE INSIGHT ON SOMETHING, WHAT WOULD IT BE ABOUT?

At this point, it would be talking about the best way to get funding for my films I want to make, but again I know the answers and I'm on the roads to get there. It's a slow grind and you have to be on it and keep pushing.

 

WHAT KIND OF OPPORTUNITIES/PROJECTS ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?

Anything where I can be engaged creatively, either photos or video I just want to make great work. The projects that seem boring or uninspired are the best because it becomes a challenge to make them inspiring, to make the mundane seem exciting. It's the best to make your creative juices really flow.

 

DESCRIBE YOUR IDEAL JOB/CLIENT/COLLABORATION.

My ideal situation is to work with people who are open to new ideas and do not stifle the creative process. Sometimes people only see one way of doing something, but when you're open to something new the sky is the limit. I just feel like I want make great stuff with great people.

 

WHAT IS YOUR HOURLY RATE, RETAINER, OR SALARY RANGE? 

Everything is different, if you're shooting editorial they're usually fixed rates. If it's for advertising or a commercial, you have day rates, usage fees and buy outs, rental fees, insurance as well as the IRS cracking down on production companies and everyone has to be on pay roll. So as far as range goes I'll tell you this I've worked for 150 bucks to over 100K in my fees alone.

 

HOW SHOULD SOMEONE APPROACH YOU ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER?

I don't have preferred way, I just want to work. If someone has a budget to make something cool, hear what they have to say, give my ideas and I'll do everything in my power to make it rad.

 

HOW DO YOU STAY CREATIVE?

I keep on pushing, always!


This member profile was originally published in February 2017.