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!
This month marks the fiftieth anniversary since that fateful day in Dallas when John F. Kennedy was brutally gunned down in broad daylight. A day that etched so much into the public’s lexicon…. grassy knoll, Texas School Book Depository, “back and to the left” and of course the Zapruder footage. Drop any one of these into a sentence and everyone knows what you’re talking about. And yet, fifty years later, the conspiracy theories and obsession with the assassination has not waned. If anything, since 9/11, suspicions have increased.
I too have fallen victim to fascination with those events, even simply about the very place where history unfolded. Dealey Plaza remains pretty much unchanged, almost a living time- capsule to November 22, 1963, and so it should. It is fascinating to walk around, stand on the same spot seen all around the world, and try to put yourself in the shoes of those standing there that day. What thoughts must have been going through there minds from one moment to the other? And then, glance around, perhaps to that grassy knoll, and ask yourself, who was standing there, if anyone, and what exactly did happen?
On my first trip around the US, traveling like any good European, and not a single American, i chose to travel by train, which was a great way to see the country, if not a little laborious at times. However, on the slow pull into Dallas, late at night, i was fascinated to keep an eye out for anything recognizable, particularly Dealey Plaza. I’d known that the famed grassy knoll backed onto some rail yards, so i wondered if i might travel near by. Not a moment after having that thought, i seemed to cross over a strangely familiar underpass, that was in fact Elm Street. Dealey Plaza was right there in front of me….the single most dramatic and tragic location of American, if not world history in the last century or so! It was a breathtaking discovery. I knew from past stops the train would wait for about ten minutes or so at the station, so as we crawled to a halt not more than a couple of hundred yards later, i seized my opportunity (of course i wasn’t to know i’d again be in Dallas years later to shoot Tony Romo, quarterback of the Cowboys!). Anyway, so i jumped off the train, into the balmy Texas night air, ran down the street, guessed a left, followed by another left, and soon found myself in the same spot where the mysterious ‘umbrella man’ put up his brolly, just before the first shots rang out. JFK…. may he rest in peace.
One of the most outspoken conspiracy theorists, filmmaker Oliver Stone, is taking the opportunity to look back by releasing a collector’s edition of ‘JFK’ on November 12th. The box set includes a director’s cut, a Kennedy-themed portion of Stone’s Showtime documentary The Untold History of the United States and another full-length documentary on the assassination. In addition, Stone and Warner Bros. are re-releasing JFK in New York, Los Angeles and Washington from November 8th through the 14th.
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.
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.
There’s something fascinatingly intimate about someone’s backyard. It all started when i began ‘Shed Life’, a personal project that’s still ongoing on Englishmen and their sheds. Stay tuned for more on that subject later. But for now please just sit back and relax in this peaceful moment. I think i fancy a nap.