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Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: September 15, 12:57 PM ET
'Hello Skater Girl' by Julian Bleecker

By Robin Fleming
ESPN.com

With the noticeable demise of women's skateboard and surf magazines over the past few years, photographer Julian Bleecker has picked up the torch by self-publishing his photography book "Hello Skater Girl."

At more than 100 pages, the book features some of the brightest young female talents in skateboarding, including Lizzie Armanto, Allysha Bergado, Amee Jay Papelera, Nora Vasconcellos. Carleigh Samson, Abby Zsarnay and Amelia Brodka. Covering bails, slams and makes; from skate parks, bowls and the streets, "Hello Skater Girl" offers up some interesting images and a well-rounded perspective.

Hailing from Venice Beach, Calif., by way of New Jersey, photographer Julian Bleecker has been shooting since he can remember, recalling, "We had cameras in the house. Nothing crazy, but a beater rangefinder and my dad was a newspaper man so he'd bring home a Nikon F, and he built me a darkroom in the laundry room. I got my first camera with my own money when I was in eighth or ninth grade -- a Minolta. I thought once of being a professional photographer and worked as a gopher in a photo studio in New York City a couple of summers while I was a kid. But, I'm not a photographer who tries to make a living being a photographer. I consider myself an overly enthusiastic amateur."

Although he's been shooting for many years, it's only recently that he's found his muse -- skateboarding. Bleecker explains, "Christmas 2010 I got a new lens and had some time to figure it out. I stumbled into the Venice Skatepark and shot a bit and was basically a naive tourist. I kept going back almost every weekend and whenever there was enough sun left after work. I made tons of friends, who seemed as psyched to meet a willing photographer as they were to teach me how to shoot skate."

Taught to shoot by his dad and later mentored by skateboarders, Bleecker began to focus on girl skaters during his second year shooting skateboarding to give his work a focus and in his own words, "to make something that I really hadn't seen before. I was looking for something different through which I'd find my own visual style. Most people don't associate girls with skaters. There's something compelling to me about photographing something normal, but with a little unexpected tweak to it."

With the skating providing inspiration and plenty of images, Bleecker decided to put together a book and publish it himself.

"I didn't mess with a publisher -- I wanted to do it on my own and learn about what it takes to make a book. And I didn't want a publisher to tell me they'd print it in 2015 or something like that. The whole process will seem fun in retrospect. Right now I'm spending my evenings hot gluing boxes, printing postage and schlepping to the LAX Post Office in the middle of the night."

Funded through Kickstarter and Bleecker's own pocket, "Hello Skater Girl" is limited to an edition of 255 copies. Bleecker says there will not be another printing, suggesting, "Think of it as a one-off 'zine or art-edition book." There may be a few books available, after his Kickstarter backers are each furnished with a numbered copy. If you want to get your hands on this rarity, go to www.helloskatergirl.com.