Tom is a skater and artist from Deptford, South East London.
Well I’m not the first to say this, but I feel that there are distinct similarities between street photography and street skating. If you go out to shoot without a real plan the formula is really similar to looking for skate spots, you keep your ear to the streets, follow your intuition, follow the architecture that catches your eye.
For me, if I’m shooting in the street it’s all about waiting for the moment to happen. Any event can be picture worthy, it’s all about taking a second out of context no matter how mundane, as long as you feel it’s an authentic moment when you’re looking at the image.
Perceiving the city differently is what we do as skateboarders. If you’re truly obsessive like I am, then you can’t walk down a road for more than five minutes without imagining what is capable on a bench or a shopfront. It’s the same thing with photography, I might see an argument between two people or an old man asleep on the train, or two friends chuckling and have to reach for my camera.
In the same way, photography and travelling go hand in hand just as much as skateboarding and travelling. There is nothing more exciting than going to completely new surroundings, shooting people and places that you have never seen or experienced before, especially if they’re hyped on it and willing to be photographed. Just like if you go somewhere where skateboarding is in it’s infancy, the spot’s are untouched and people are genuinely excited about what you are doing.
I really like and respect Ed Templeton’s stuff, and he has expressed a lot of the same things that I have said above about the links between photography and skating.
All the old skate videos that I had on VHS and then DVD really helped shape my taste, especially music, I discovered David Bowie through Flip’s Sorry video which was made by Fred Mortagne. That video and others got me interested in the documentation of what I was doing, not just the tricks but everything else around them. A lot of the old videos had Hi 8 or 16mm sections in them and I always found those moments beautiful.
Skateboarding is all heavily based on different aesthetics, that’s why we like the companies that we do. Videos like Girl Skateboards Yeah Right and Habitat Skateboards Mosaic seemed to me to have the whole package and that was before I even cared about cinematography in real movies. So I’d say my experience of early skate videos greatly influenced the aesthetics of my photography now.
On a separate note, a lot of what my work in London is about are the negative changes taking place in the city due to the unholy union of money and local government. I want to discuss what it is that we love about London and how we can preserve those elements before all the character is wiped out and replaced by glass buildings lined with Costa’s which is why I really respect the battles being fought by campaigns like Long Live Southbank and other groups fighting to save spots all over the world.
I think The No Comply Network is a great idea, I think that skateboarders are an extremely creative bunch, but sometimes not the best at promoting themselves or getting their work released into the public domain, so NCN as a way of connecting us all is spot on.
I am currently part a Non-Profit Organisation called Skate Nepal, at the moment we are raising money through a fundraising site as well as selling products and putting on events in order to generate enough cash to travel to Nepal and assist the extension of their only Skatepark in Pokhara. If all goes well we will try and build another park in Nepal and so on.
Our aim is to spread the gospel of skateboarding and provide equipment and facilities to the people of Nepal, a country that has recently been affected by natural disasters. At exactly this time last year I was in Nepal, discovering the small skate scene that exists there and documenting the aftermath of the Earthquake that happened a few months before. I came back with photography, but I really wanted to extend the relationships that I had built up with the people and the places there and contribute something back. Then Daryl Dominguez hit me up with the idea a few months ago and now we are in full effect!
My other project that I intend to show early next year is my body of work that I have been shooting in South East London over the last few years. It takes into account the unholy changes of the city that I mentioned above. The work, which gravitates around Deptford has so many different elements, it has almost grown too vast. I am working on a way of collating it all and then showing it in full, and hopefully in Deptford.