Still Motion I view skateboarding as a form of expression and skate photography as a very specific and demanding art. I decided to become a skate photographer in 2005, the year a new skate park opened at the southern end of Bondi Beach. I immediately felt drawn to the subculture and became fascinated as a photographer with the challenge of capturing a single moment that expresses the essence of something that constantly flows and moves. Skate photography always feels real to me, because the riders have no way to avoid putting their bodies on the line. There is a definite honesty in the act that I admire and respect. You can stage a good skate shot, but you can’t really fake it. There is no way to get yourself in the characteristic position of a 540, a blunt side, or a back smith without taking a very real risk. I naturally gravitate towards bowl skating because I live in Bondi and the world famous B-shaped bowl here is the centre of our local skate culture. It’s also a perfect, photogenic setting, with the blue curves of the pool set against the upside down bowl of the sky and the surf in the distance. It’s amazing how many skaters you meet who turn out to be artists. Amazing, but not really surprising. Bowl skating is at once an intensely demanding form of sport and a kind of performance art. I love watching the way bowl skaters start to draw their own lines as they master a pool. The bowl is always the same, literally set in concrete, but the riders always manage to find their own attack patterns as they test the curves and possibilities of the bowl. I believe the best bowl skating shots are taken by photographers who have developed an intuitive understanding of the lines and rhythms of the skating. The only way to get that knowledge, as far as I can see, is to step up to the coping and drop in. My own skating is nowhere near the level of the gifted artist-athletes I shoot – really not even on the same planet - but I do have my own lines and have taken a few bone shattering falls along the way. One thing you learn doing skate photography is that the most technically demanding tricks don’t always make the most striking or memorable images. You constantly need to draw upon both your knowledge of skating and your aesthetic sense as a photographer to find the money shot. Covering a competition is a very different job than doing a pre-arranged shoot with a particular rider. Competition skaters are totally focused on their runs; it is their bread and butter and there is no way they are going to pause to discuss the aesthetics of a trick. You need to study every rider during practice sessions, memorise their lines, and find the precise instant that best expresses the unique style and power of each skater. You really need to stay on your toes, because you never know when skaters might pull out all stops and go for the kind of move they would never risk during practice. You learn to read the mood of the crowd and the way skaters ride those waves of enthusiasm, so you’re ready for that magical moment. Working with a single rider is more like a conversation between two artists who are working together to find the best possible angle on the rider’s signature moves. In every case, knowing how to feel the dynamics of the skating is as essential as knowing the capabilities of your camera. Skate photography is about action, but it is still the photographer’s job to compose the shot. Carefully, with sensitivity, but in the instant. I always look through the viewfinder so that I can see skaters and the way I am framing them in the moment. It can get pretty freaky behind that lens, sometimes dangerous, but I am convinced you can’t fake good skate photography, no more than you can fake good skating. Whether you’re the skater or the photographer, you have to commit to the moment, because that’s where the truth happens.