Tom Quigley is a young photographer from Nottingham who loves taking skate photos in his hometown. When he’s not shooting incredible pictures, many of which have been used by Element, he works as the editor of Varial Magazine. He aspires to someday visit Barcelona to shoot awesome skate photos in its skateparks and streets. Well, Surfdome loves young and talented people so we caught up with Tom to find out more about his work, future plans and showcase some of his sick photos!
Hello Tom! First of all tell us a little bit about yourself. What was your initial attraction to skate photography?
Well I started snapping skateboarding when I was a kid. Not long after I first got a skateboard and was just skating curbs in my local area. I was initially just documenting what my mates and I were doing but it wasn’t long before I was reading magazines like Sidewalk and Document and being blown away by the images in those. That was definitely a healthy dose of inspiration – I’ve drawn from it ever since!
What’s the most recent project you’ve worked on?
Last year I published Varial Magazine, a small free publication of local skate photography, with images from myself and a handful of other contributors. I did two issues in 2013 that were available in skate shops and indoor skateparks around the East Midlands – I’m currently working on issue 3 now.
How long have you been skating? Any favourite skate spots?
I was 15 when I first got into skating back in the early 2000’s, but have always spent most of my time behind the camera! Here in Nottingham we have the relatively new Sneinton Market and Clifton skatepark which are both great for skating and shooting photos. London’s Southbank Undercroft is definitely this country’s most iconic skate spot, and I really hope the Long Live Southbank campaign is successful in preserving it from demolition.
You’re a graphic designer too. Where do you get inspiration from when you’re coming up with creative ideas?
Aside from other photographers; Shepard Fairey is probably my favourite artist – I love his style and sometimes wish I could spend more time creating graphic work. I’m really enjoying putting together magazines though and inspiration for that came from great independent publications like Allen Ying’s 43 Magazine over in America and London’s Grey Magazine.
Is there any dream location you’d like to take skate shots?
I’m hoping to see Europe sometime soon, maybe Barcelona – but I’d honestly just enjoy shooting somewhere new. I haven’t shot any skating outside of the UK before so having the chance to capture new spots, architecture and weather conditions etc would be great!
What challenges have you experienced as a photographer?
Being able to set up external flashes is difficult in busy skateparks without getting in people’s way, and I don’t enjoy shooting big competitions as much as it’s become too competitive with other aspiring photographers. It’s almost paparazzi-like with everyone trying to get the best angle. That’s why going out with a mate or two and shooting something is so much fun, especially if they’re skating street. You get total creative control over the shot, although as usual the weather is always the biggest challenge here in the UK!
What’s the skate scene like in Nottingham?
It’s been doing great recently; we’ve had a lot of parks built over the last few years which seem to have encouraged more kids to get into skating. We also finally got an indoor park just over a year ago, which is much needed in these winter months. Flo skatepark has also become an important stop in the UK, hosting the Element Make It Count competition and the UKSA Champs last year.
What’s the core message of your work?
I don’t know about a message, I guess I just want to illustrate skateboarding as best as I can and be as creative and unique as possible in the shots I’m taking. Documenting the scene is important I think, as well; photographers (and filmmakers) have always been an important part of growing the culture of skateboarding.
Any career highlights so far?
Seeing my photos used by Element, Adio & Mighty Healthy has been amazing, but shooting photos for local, independent companies is satisfying too – I’ve had the pleasure of working with Iron Column Skateboards, Steak Skateboards, Non-Stop and Forty Two skate shops to help spread the word of our local riders and businesses. Likewise, putting out an independent publication that people can enjoy for free is great. Seeing those disappear from shops and getting feedback from all over the country, including from Sidewalk Magazine, makes all the hard work worth it. Incidentally, if anyone wants to get involved with issue 3 of Varial, I’d love to hear from you!
What advice would you give to other aspiring young talents who want to follow the same path as you?
Shoot often, be critical of your own work and make a lot of friends in the skate industry!
Big thanks to Tom Quigley for the interview and his amazing photography. Surfdome wishes him luck with all his future plans.