The is not surfing. This is running, full-sprint, launching into oncoming waves, 360 aerials, tube-riding before landing back on shore, ideally untouched. This is Skimboarding.
I’ve never really known much about skimboarding, but after seeing a couple of guys casually goofing around at the waters edge in Santa Monica, I figured there has to be more to it. So I decided to follow my curiosity about this under the radar sport. I’m always looking for interesting subjects to shoot for personal projects, ideally that have not been covered too much. What I found was not just a great visual feast of a sport, but a whole sub-culture, all focused at one spot, Aliso Beach, just an hour and a half down the 405 in Laguna Beach, California.
Aliso is where skimboarding was invented in the 1920’s and is still generally considered to be the best place in the world to skim. People move here just to build a life around skimboarding and compete against legends. So I set out to capture the character of Skimboard culture and with the portraits a cross-section of the devotees who make Aliso what it is today.
I shot over the summer months of 2015, leading up to the World Tour event at Aliso called The Vic, on the last weekend in August. After a few weeks I got to know who’s who and a great set of characters were becoming apparent thick and fast. I love to shoot portraits of people who are still effectively in their element, maintaining that authenticity and intensity. I want you to be able to almost taste the salt-water just by looking at them.
But no matter how global Skimboarding becomes, Aliso will always be its home, its proving ground, its Bansai Pipeline. For more go to: gallagherphoto.com/galleries/skim
It makes for an interesting life when one day out of the blue an email can come in and the very next week you’re off to a South Pacific Island for a few days to tootle around and shoot beautifully inspired pictures. What i love specifically about travel photography is that in its very essence it’s your job to immerse yourself in the travel experience. You have to feel it to capture it. That does mean long hours though, as you’ll always be top and tailing the day (shooting at sunrise and sunset) which means up at the crack for the best light, but it does make for a memorable experience!
This assignment was with esteemed writer and columnist Andrew O’Hagan, who was a great travel partner and portrait subject. Like me he had no problem getting into the zone!
And as an extra added bonus to myself, I managed to wangle my return flight at my own expense……
Flight change fee: $100
Extra nights stay on Tahiti: $150
Rubbiing lime juice on hand, feet and butt after getting dragged over the reef surfing Taapuna: priceless!
I’ve always dreamed of surfing Tahiti, so couldn’t let this opportunity pass, but definately had no plan as to how to make it happen (there’s nowhere the rent boards on the island it turns out). But after meeting some awesome people within 24 hrs, I was also able to turn an amazing work trip into a fun little surf trip as well. Life is what you make it and take chances when opportunities arise. Oh, and the $150/ night place on Tahiti? The Tahiti Airport Motel. Great place, very clean, friendly and literally right across from the airport. I walked to catch my flight!
Over the christmas holidays myself and some friends took a hike out to one of the Los Angeles’s hidden treasures….. Deep Creek natural hot springs. It’s really quite a remarkable find, and quite a long uphill hike back. But make sure you leave the springs before the sun goes down, or you’ll be sleeping rough out there in the California desert.
An homage to my own local surf spot. The grey skies, cold, grey water. I immediately feel like i’m bobbing up and down, eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to get a head- start on the next decent set. What a great way to spend a couple of hours amongst dolphins, seals and pelicans taking a nose dive just feet from where you sit.
Yeah, not exactly something you see everyday, but that’s why we carry a camera with us everywhere we go, right? and i don’t mean an iPhone. I think we can do better than that. The Fuji x100 is the way to go. small, discreet, amazing quality, and pretty darn nicely designed too. But three muslim women wearing burqa’s going surfing! Come on, are you serious? How can you not shoot it, even if your not that welcome to. Some things just have to be done!
Being fortunate enough to live by the beach, one of my favourite things to do if the schedule allows, is take a walk on the sand late in the afternoon just as the sun is starting to set. And thanks to my trusty iphone, i’m often taking pictures too. Without doubt, it’s an amazing time to shoot, just as day starts to turn into night.