Hey Sadie, could you introduce yourself for us? When and why did you start shooting?
Hi! I started shooting film back in 2012 when I found one of those Lomography fisheye cameras lying about my room. I took it out with me one day when I was heading to my local skatepark and shot a few photos of my mates skating the bowl. I’ve always classed myself as a very sentimental person, so photography is just an extension of that. I took a break from shooting around 2013 and picked it up again, with the same shitty Lomography camera, when I headed home to LA for a long weekend in 2014 (I’m actually still waiting to develop those rolls, they’re just sat in my fridge…) and although that reignited my love for photography, I never thought much about it.
How would you say your style has developed from then until now?
I quickly moved on to shooting on cheap disposable cameras every time I went out and had a whole wall covered in drunken party photos. I was quite absent from skating at the time, due to a gnarly snowboarding bail, and I was working 9-5 everyday as an Online Editor so there wasn’t any real substance to my photos. I started really caring about my photos around two years back. I started focusing more on composition and the style of my photography. I started looking into which bodies of work inspired me, mainly Ed Templeton’s “Wires Crossed” work and Simon Barker’s “Punk’s Dead” photo book, and from there it was just a matter of trial and error.
Could you take us through the decision to shoot almost exclusively in black and white?
I’ve just never been a colourful person. I’ve always been drawn to black and white photography, I like how it strips back the distraction you find with colour. Shooting on colour means that you have to think about tones and palettes when shooting- whereas with black and white, you can put more attention into lighting & shadows and play around with the contrast and grain without feeling like the photograph is muted or dull.
How did you decide on Portland to be the first city for your Skate Dates series? Did you already know the guys featured in the series or did you meet them on the day?
Portland is awesome! There are literally skate paths (like bike lanes) all around the city. It’s raw and it’s gritty and it was new to me. I’ve been to Portland many times, mainly to see family & get tattooed, but I’ve never skated there. I knew one dude, my cousin Watson. He’s awesome. He came to London to DJ at my art show at Parlour Skatestore last March and then I took him on a bender-weekend in Berlin immediately after. He introduced me to his friend Zack and then I met Damion at one of the skateparks. He’s cool as fuck. His instagram is @shuvitolliegrind and he’s easily become one of my favourite skaters.
Take us through the decision to limit yourself to shooting on one roll of film.
I had found myself in the habit of blasting through rolls on a night out quicker than I was necking pints. It’s fun, especially when using a camera like my Contax G1, but you end up with rolls and rolls of literal shit. I wanted to pull myself back, slow myself down & focus on each frame like it was my last. It was a gamble, considering I was heading back down to LA the following day, but I hit the jackpot and ended up with a whole roll full of keepers.
You hit up Glenhaven, Burnside & Commonwealth during the day - why these parks in particular?
Dude! Burnside! It’s crazy. Everyone goes on and on about how it’s very “locals only” and a super difficult place to session but that’s bullshit. We rolled up and there was a massive BBQ going on, boomboxes blasting and dogs everywhere. If you respect the locals and follow the standard skatepark etiquette you’re fine. I mean that’s common sense really, but you’d be surprised how many dudes I know who just act like an entitled dick everywhere they go.
I never knew about Glenhaven or Commonwealth before that day. Glenhaven is where that Sweeper photo is taken. Watson and Zack where taking a breather on the grass by the park sign and all of a sudden Damion came flying up in between them and I was like wooooooooah. So as soon as I could I caught his attention, introduced myself, explained the photo I wanted to take and we got it in one shot. I’m looking forward to heading back to PDX and shooting more stuff with him.
We actually went to Commonwealth twice that day but only committed to it the second time around. It’s an indoor park in the warehouse next to the skateshop and, like I mentioned above, we were in the middle of a heatwave. It was like a fucking hotbox in there, but the park was too fun to skip out. Funnily enough, I went to drop in on the far end of the bowl and somehow completely stepped over my board and fell straight to flat. Watson switched straight into family mode and ran to my side terrified. I was fine, but I did fall straight onto my arm that had been heavily tattooed a few hours prior. Not fun…
Aside from the Sweeper photo, you tend to stay away from the conventional skate photo in the series, what's your reasoning for this?
I’ll very rarely take convention “trick” photos. It’s just not my thing. I’m much more interested in capturing the sub-cultures and lifestyle around skateboarding. Skateboarding is cool, but the people are cooler. Everyone is unique. From the way they look and the way the dress to the way they grip their board.
Have you got anywhere else planned for the next instalments of the series?
London, LA, San Diego, Portland part 2, Paris, Bordeaux, NYC to name a few...