If you run into Jai Tanju, he’s either somewhere in San Jose on his bike, camera in hand, or out on a skate or photography trip in some serene and strange landscape, or he could be in Seeing Things Gallery, which he owns and operates. In recent years, Tanju has built the gallery into a constantly revolving showcase of compelling artists, and—other than a really good library—one of the largest zine and art book collections in San Jose. But the sprinklings of the skating world in the gallery offer only a glimpse into Tanju’s long and prolific career as a photographer for top skateboarding publications, his extended relationship with Enjoi Skateboards, and what he credits for giving him an eye for finding and exploring the art in his own photography.
“I really didn’t get into photography until I was in my 20s. After high school, I traveled, finally ending up back in San Jose, and decided to take a photo class at West Valley. At the same time I was living with skater Jason Adams, and I was getting more into photography because my friends were skating. They were just turning professional, so people would come shoot photos of them. I would watch, thinking, okay, this isn’t anything special. What changed was that someone had come to actually do that work— take the photos—and it occurred to me that I could do that too.”