Each day this week we'll be bringing you Photographers Stories recaps from both Sidewalk staff and our regular contributors.
Starting things off we have Sidewalk staffer Chris Johnson - have a click through below for his five favourite shots from 2013 and the tale behind each, then check on back tomorrow for more...
Mark Burrows - Slob air.
With a couple of heavy snowfalls pretty much writing off the tail end of 2012 and the early days of 2013, time was running out to get up to Scotland and finish Paul Silvester’s ‘Flexible Heads’ feature as his second child was due at any time. After a few days up in Scotland, Paul had some work and family duties to attend to, giving me chance to get over to Saughton in Edinburgh as a heavy session was unfolding on a freezing cold Tuesday night in February.
Having only met Mark in passing a few years earlier and at this point not following him on Instagram, I was completely unaware of how hard he goes for it on any given evening. The dude has two kids, a missus and works as a plasterer throughout the week and he still skates more than somebody half his ago with zero responsibilities. The dude is testament to keeping things in perspective and never loosing sight or getting bogged down by life as the years roll by.
Straight after we shot this, he proceeded to tear through the rest of the park and with Adam Paris alongside him shot an insane doubles photo despite a thick mist covering the now lethal concrete a meter or so below him. There’s no half measures on the other side of the border!
[part title="John Bell"]
John Bell - 5-0.
In the middle of June last year, I joined the Unabomber crew as they headed over to Montpellier, France. I hadn’t been on a street trip to France before and was looking forward to checking out what the city of Montpellier and the surrounding areas had to offer. In an attempt to avoid the distractions of the sometimes 18-30’s spiral that a hotel slap bang in the middle of the tourist trap can become, team manager Daz found us a private house out in the sticks.
Upon our arrival, we were greeted by two days of torrential rain, which left us with little else to do but go on a spot hunt around town and eventually give in to lure of cheap wine. Whilst on our second day of rain, the boredom set in and claims began to be made. We walked past this spot a number of times and every time John would become more and more enthusiastic about its potential.
With a few sunny days behind us, the cobwebs were well and truly blown away and the memory cards began to bulge. We headed out to a hubba spot alongside a marina under the guidance of ex-pat Kim who was showing us around for the week. With the sun beating down on us, John and a few of the others who weren’t skating the hubba had enlisted the help of our good old friend Mr. Bière whilst cooling down in the shade. For John, the refreshing brew was not enough and via some pretty shoddy advice from myself, he sent himself flying into the depths of the marina. Unfortunately for John, the sand laden slipway that became his escape route from the murky depths was covered in razor sharp clamshells. So basically, three days in and John had sliced the sole of his foot in half, writing himself off.
As the week went on, John became more and more fixated on a last minute attempt to get a photo and with each day that passed, he found more successful ways to glue and tape his foot closed. On our final day in France, we headed straight to the riverside ledge to bank and with just about enough gaffer tape and bandages to hold his foot together, John bolted the 5-0 to potential river dive within a few goes. I’m not the first to say it and I’ll in no way be the last, John Bell is the embodiment of going for broke, no matter what physical limitations attempt to stand in his way.
[part title="Kris Vile"]
Kris Vile - wallie 5050.
It’s no secret that Kris Vile is one of my favorite people to shoot a photo of. We are both from the West Midlands and we have both trodden the same disappointingly miss-matched pavements looking for something interesting to skate or document. When you’ve got Kris on your doorstep and he’s always up for leaping on or off of anything you put in front of him, it’s no mystery why I have a hard drive full of photos with his name on.
Little over a month ago now, I found myself in Birmingham shooting some photos with Kris at the A Third Foot factory highlighting his guest board with them. After we finished everything we’d planned for the day, Kris guided me across town to an un-skated oddity alongside the Birmingham canals. With the light fading fast and a ten minute walk around the walkways and bridges to get myself to the vantage point the opposite side of the water, I enlisted Kris’s brother John to help set up and get the flashes into position.
Just out of frame is a huge wooden pillar used for mooring the barges, which stood directly in the way for a straight on approach to the rail. As Kris would have to carve in at the last second and would end up hitting this thing at the wrong angle and nearly ended up in the canal on more than one occasion.
He finally mastered a technique for swerving in and getting his weight on top of the rail at the point where the amazing light of the setting sun had subsided from the reflective waters. As the warm ambient glow vanished, so too did the flocks of geese which were helping to make this a unique photo. With Kris running out of energy and visibility now pretty much completely gone, I attempted to get the geese back into the frame by throwing hand a full of loose change and peddles into the water just in front of the rail hoping that they’d think it was food (as the geese are heavily over fed by the office workers who frequent the canal side benches and walkways on their lunch breaks). Luckily, the geese fell for this a few times, giving us chance to blag the perfect capture.
[part title="Danny Brady"]
Danny Brady - gap to backside disaster.
As Joel will mention in his installment of the Photographers Stories, Lakai were in London last year to celebrate Go Skateboarding Day with a host of international heads such as Jesus Fernadez, Sebo Walker, Enrique Lorenzo, Nick Jensen and Danny Brady to name but a few. With Joel taking care of things on the Friday (the GSD part of the weekend residency), I got down to London early on the Saturday morning for a few days of street skating in the Capital.
Our first day spent over on the Western reaches of the city trying to get some photos and footage, but before long a trusty British downpour put an end to things and we headed to the pubs surrounding Euston. With more heavy rain forecast for the following day and the weekend looking like a write off because of the weather once again, I was foolishly lead into the mindset of those around me who were ten years younger (and still at the age where sleep deprivation and alcohol overdose doesn’t leave you in a black hole for the several days following); that Jager Bombs are a good idea.
Waking up slightly worse for ware in an oxygen starved Travelodge room, I forced open the curtains to find that the predicted downpour had not come to fruition and the sun was fighting its way onto the London pavements. Dragging myself down to the foyer whilst wishing repeatedly that I’d gone straight to be after the meal the night before, I was greeted our enthusiastic crew.
Having spent the first few hours of the day around the Euston area, we made our way further into the city with the loose plan of ending up at Southbank before the sun went down. Following the group blindly, I entrusted the SatNav like honing skills of Danny Brady as we went in search of some sort of skate-able statue. Upon arrival and the realisation that the said statue was the Scott Palmer tre flip spot, I was super stoked as I’d always wanted to shoot a photo there. With a session vibe running throughout the weekend, there was just about enough time to set up before Brady had cleared the gap to backside disaster on the other side before we headed down to the river.
[part title="Tom Harrison"]
Tom Harrison - smith grind.
With The National Skate Co. taking their first full team trip abroad in October last year, I jumped on board and headed to a somewhat chilly Poland with them. Having been flat out at the tail end of the reliable months (in weather terms) back in Britain, I’d had no time to do any research into Poland and the potential for spots over there beforehand and had no idea what to expect.
A few days into the trip, the National crew had racked up a solid amount of footage and we’d shot a handful of photos, but nothing that screamed Eastern Europe. Well, that was until the tail end of our third day! Our tour guide Kuba had taken us out to a picturesque statue spot above the city, which had the promise of smooth marble floor and a kind of kicker/street driveway. As soon as we got there I saw the chest high marble block, which sat at the foot of an amazing statue which towering above it. This thing was massive! Luckily Tom Harrison was with us as his ability to propel himself off the ground is second to none. With just about enough time to panic about the fading light and set up some lights, Tom cruised his way through a stylish smith grind.
This is my favorite photo from 2013 (maybe even my favorite photo I’ve ever shot) as it was a complete fluke that we ended up at the spot, that the light held on for us just long enough and that statue is a photo with a story in itself. I’ve gotta give it to Tom, he’s got some serious pop!