We’re here today to introduce you to Pep Williams, a unique talent who has two loves: skateboarding and photography.
Williams was born and raised in Los Angeles, where he picked up skateboarding at a young age and has gone on to become a well-respected skater within the industry. Somewhere along the way, photography caught his attention (which he explains in our Q&A below), and that became a passion for him. Since picking up his first camera, Williams has traveled around the world, shooting spreads for magazines, skate companies and everything in between. He’s been widely published in fashion, music, action sports, and entertainment magazines domestically and aboard, not only for his photography work, but his skating as well.
He describes his work as the “freshest kind of raw”. Now it’s time to meet Pep, as we get to know him in this short Q&A.
BallerStatus.com: Tell us about where your influences and where you grew up?
Pep Williams: I grew up in L.A. (Huntington Park and Watts). My biggest influences as a kid was my mom and my friends who ran with gangs — mainly from F13, WVG, 97 ECC, and Front Street Watts.
BallerStatus.com: Aside from being a photographer, you’ve been skating for years now. Tell us a little about that.
Pep Williams: I started skating at four in 1975, so that’s about 35 years now. Skating has been the best thing for me. It has allowed me to travel the world and see places most people see when they retire. I’m on the road a lot almost since I was 16 years old. I burn through passports like crazy (laughs).
BallerStatus.com: Where did photography come along?
Pep Williams: Photography is the best. I got into photography by chance. I modeled for several years for lots of designers (fashion shows) and one day a designer was freaking out because his photographer booked another job. I found out the job paid $6,000. I immediately said “I’m a photographer.” Everyone looked and were shocked because I never mentioned I was a photographer before. They asked for my portfolio and I said “We don’t have time for that now, let’s just get it done!” I had never even owned a camera before, but for $6,000 I’ll try just about anything. So, I hired a kid from a local college from a photo class, paid him $250 for the day. We went to Sammy’s Camera and rented equipment. He set everything up and I just pressed the button. Boo yaa! I knocked it out and I was hooked.
BallerStatus.com: Tell us about doing both, and how you balance both.
Pep Williams: I do both professionally. The mix is cool. Because I skate, I get to shoot for tons of skate companies — from shoe companies, clothing lines, mags, and a ton of bands, because they all skate and most I’ve known over 20 years. So I tour all over with bands and companies and mags fly me all over to shoot everything from skating to fashion. I just got back from Hawaii, two days ago shooting skating. A magazine sent me. It was pretty killer shooting my bros and skating.
BallerStatus.com: Tell us about your proudest moments in both worlds.
Pep Williams: My proudest moment in skating. I actually have two. First was me skating on the cover of Thrasher in 91. The feeling was amazing. I was 19. To travel all over and people run up to you for an autograph to sign a shirt or mag. People still hit me up about the mag. Even though I have been on several covers, the Thrasher is the one that stands out. The second proudest moment in skating is when I was asked to be in a museum exhibit. I was floored. People usually are featured in a museum when they die and they show what they did. So, I was super stoked on that one.
My proudest moment in photography never ends. There is always something cool popping up — from people wanting to display my work in other countries for solo gallery shows to a ad or shooting a magazine cover. So my proudest moments in photography is on going.
BallerStatus.com: Who are your favorite skaters and photographers?
Pep Williams: My favorite skaters, that’s a tough one. There’s so many to name. But, I would have to say my bros — Jay Adams, [Christian] Hosoi, Julien Stranger, Eric Dressen, Kareem Campbell and all my Dogtown family. Pretty much any one who skates are my favs.
Favorite photographers are Herb Ritts, Peter Lik, David LaChapelle, and my bro Estevan Oriol.
For more information about Pep, visit his official website at PepWilliamsPhotography.com.