Sierra Prescott on the grind
WORDS BY: OLIVIA MORREALE | PHOTOS BY: CAITLYN MORTON
“If my hair isn’t horizontal in the photo, I’m not going fast enough.” Skateboarder and photographer Sierra Prescott is one of Instagram’s favorite female skaters, and she has her background in photography (and her mom) to thank for it. Sierra’s graphic, vintage look is inspiring stylish skaters everywhere, and she’s using striped socks, bright colors and killer Bert slides to show skating skeptics the excitement of a great kick flip.
Skateboarding and photography have both been in Sierra’s life from an early age; at 5 years old, she and her younger brother Sage would go outside and take photos with a Kodak disposable, and when the cartoon Rocket Power came out, Sierra knew she had to skate. Of her formative skating experiences, she tells WestwoodWestwood, “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, those girls can skate with the boys, and they’re just doing these crazy badass things.’” In high school, she would hit the skate park with two rolls of film and photograph her friends, and by the time senior year rolled around, she was photographing the Kentucky Derby with Dave Black and Sports Illustrated photographer Heinz Kluetmeier. Although Sierra had plans to go to business school, skating and photography were both calling her name too loudly to ignore by the time it was college application season; with her mother’s encouragement, she enrolled in a year-round arts school as a photography major.
In the competitive, male-dominated world of skateboarding, Sierra is determined to share her own experience with skateboarding as a fun, empowering hobby, accessible to anyone anywhere. “We have concrete everywhere we go in the cities; we can skate wherever we go,” she says with a smile. “I think the majority of the people that do follow me are there because it is fun and makes them smile, because it’s a break from the serious, hard shit that they deal with on a normal basis.” Sierra Prescott also knows that young girls are watching what she does, and it’s not something she takes lightly. In her photos, she tries to keep the focus on the moment and not on herself. “I’ve seen so many Bert Slides that are crotch into camera,” she says. “I can see your underwear! Why did you choose that frame?! As a woman, I try to keep the fun and the tomboy aspect of skateboarding in my photos. I like it to be more of, ‘You can do this too, check this out, check out where I am, you should visit.’”
The concept of Instagram fame, though fairly new, has become an art in and of itself. Sierra’s carefully curated aesthetic has been a large part of her success and has helped her immensely to cultivate her public image, in addition to scoring her sponsorships and gigs as both a photographer and as talent. However, knowing she’s skating for Instagram definitely also affects the way Sierra skates: “When I was a kid, I used to skate around and I didn’t have a phone that I brought with me […] I wouldn’t sit there and be like, “Oh, that’s cool, I did it, but I’m gonna do that again.” Unless I don’t have my phone, skateboarding can be a little more serious. A little more like I have a duty, like I need to post this and it’s going to look like this and I won’t post it unless it has this certain quality.” Despite her love-hate relationship with social media, Sierra’s calling card with her fans is the recreational and stress-free aspect of skating, and she lives this truth in her personal life every day. On any given day, she is out scouting for new skating spots, working on bulletproofing her ankles (“I know that sounds really funny, but I got that term from men’s health, that’s not my term,” she tells us), or exploring LA and beyond with her board by her side.
Although she’s an LA baby, skating and photography are taking Sierra all across the world—she’s about to take a trip to Costa Rica. As an Under Armour athlete, she alternates her role as photographer and as talent when shooting with them, and is paid to photograph other Under Armour athletes; when working with brands, Sierra prioritizes loyalty to the individual above all. “It’s not just work, it’s life,” she says. “They want you to be yourself and promote them in whatever aspect it is.” With such a unique style, both on the board and behind the lens, preserving her individuality is a priority and a necessity for Sierra. Fittingly, she’s also filming a web series written around her personality, as well as releasing her second prototype board and re-releasing her “Life is Rad” board. Sierra’s next big shoot is in the Windy City, but she’ll also be making a few pit stops along the way; “I’m also going to go to Indiana and chill at the lakes and have more fun with my trusty skateboard,” she says. “It’s my best friend.”