London’s skateboard scene is vast but also has many hotspots that are far from being under rocks. If you look West to the likes of Harrow, you will find a multitude of talent on display and some wonderful characters behind the action there too.
This suburban area and London Borough is the home of Death Skateboards, the hosts of the original H-Boyz and the birthplace of many skate industry players that grew up carving the bollocks of one of London’s most historic skateparks. To this very day Harrow comes rich in history and has also spawned one of our favourite sons in David ‘Styley’ Steel.
It’s been seven years since we have featured Styley’s photography. In that time, he moved to Japan and then returned to work with Form Distribution, the dudes who bring the UK Girl and Chocolate Skateboards. As the year turned, David and his missus flew back to Yokohama-shi in Japan for another spell out there so we decided to Expose what’s been in his lens over the years and discuss the tales behind ten of his favourite photos. His work is beautiful, his face is probably smiling as he reads this very text and it’s a pleasure to know such a great fella. With that in mind enjoy his top ten.
Left: Styley crailtap’s some rough ‘crete. Photo by Si True.
Nick Zorlac, FS wallride grab off. Southbank, London.
Unsocial hours are always a part of photographing skateboarding. This was no exception. Nick Zorlac gave me a call with a mission to get a shot on the old section of South Bank. It had a massive wooden builders wall around it as they were demolishing it so the only way to get a shot on it was about one in the morning. Once in though we were able to use the builders wood to create a bridge over a massive hole they had dug which lay in Nick’s line and I found a massive ladder to climb up to get the shot.
John Tanner, Switch tweaked ollie to fakie, Sardinia.
Trips are always the advantage of working for a magazine. This spot was sick even though surrounded by used needles. No one really had anything for it though but just as we were about to leave John started playing about with switch ollies. The trip was amazing, just hanging out and skating sick spots with good friends and to come away with this shot made lying on syringe infested pavements worth it.
Junichi Arahata, Switch BS Tailslide, Tokyo. Japan.
When I first moved to Japan I didn’t really know anyone but word got around that a foreigner (me!) was in town that took photos. Koji who owned Lesque Skateboards called me up and asked me to come take some shots with them. So the next day I turn up at his house. He greeted me then advised me to lay on the sofa to get some sleep. It was only 6pm. He told me that we’d be skating through the night as there was less security. He was right and we hit a tonne of spots. This was shot at about 4am just as dawn was breaking and the cops were waking up. One even turned up to bust us just as we were packing up! Five hours later I was in my school teaching English to kids with the worst red eye ever.
Horsey. Wallie Japan Grab, London.
So, posting this on my instagram is how Zac invited me to be a part of this article. I do remember we went to this spot to shoot a different trick with a different skater but Horsey started playing around with this wallie grab. I usually have an idea of how I want to shoot a shot but I always get more and more stoked the closer I get and start twisting to the camera to come up with a sick angle. The fish eye then changes it into something else that I hadn’t thought of.
Kevin McKeon. Bs Crail slide, Harrow, London.
FILM SUCKS! Seriously, digital made taking photos so much easier and enjoyable. Here is Kevin probably doing this trick for the 20th time. Not because he was bailing, no he was sticking every try- but due to my paranoia that I hadn’t got the shot as I was shooting on shitty film and couldn’t check it. I shot a whole roll of this (that’s 36 shots to those who don’t know what a roll of film is!) and most of them were useable with pretty much identical shots on each. Sorry Kev for making you do it repeatedly.
John Lindsay, thread the needle to Mayday, Yokohama, Japan.
One of my favourite things of being a photographer is just stoking friends who would not normally get a photo taken. John skated sick and he knew of this crazy spot with these blue bars around it with gaps that were just about wide enough to get through. I showed him a couple of shots of the angle I liked thanks to digital, and this just really motivated him to get the trick in the bag.
Lee. Wallie, Barcelona.
Lee just happened to be staying in the same shit hostel as us and came and tagged along with us one day. He knew of this spot pictured that he had found once during a massive skate through the city suburbs so to find it we literally had to follow his previous routes footsteps. This was back in the day when I didn’t have a roller camera bag so pushing through the streets with a 50lb bag on a hot evening was killer, but to end it with this wallie was worth it. If you’re starting photography now, invest in a roller bag and save your back!
Zarosh, fs noseblunt slide, Shirahata. Japan.
I grew up reading Transworld and R.A.D mags during the late 80’s to 90’s getting brainwashed by how skateboard photos should look. One rule always seemed to apply- green wheels really close to the fish eye. Stoked on the opportunity to keep the tradition going. Thanks Zarosh.
Santa Cates, fs grind, Harrow pool.
Dan is always full of ideas and somehow I got roped into this one! We headed to the park at about 11pm and started to paint through the night. We had to allow the paint to dry before skating it. So during the day Horsey and Steak kept an eye on it so no one entered the pool. Then that night I met back up with Dan to shoot the long-boarded fs grind. Once shot, Dan insisted on then painting over the snowman bits in white so that no one could shoot the same shot. This was the most amount of work for a photo I’ve ever done but definitely one of my favourites and I’ll never get over the buzz of seeing my photos as covers up in the magazine racks in skate shops.
Vivien Feil, BS 180 over fence, Japan.
Vivien came and visited Japan a few times just as he was setting up Magenta Skateboards. In between discussions of why the French are the superior race and explaining why spending his life savings at the arcade playing Street Fighter he would bust out the sickest tricks with the best style. If you look carefully in the bottom right corner of the photo you can see mount Fuji’s silhouette.
If you liked this, follow your nose to Rich West‘s Exposed feature.