Richard Gilligan is a Dublin based photographer who began his photographic career shooting friends skateboarding on his dads point and shoot. Since, he has gone on to do editorial work for various international skateboard magazines over the years has producing work for a wide spectrum of publications from fashion to music the world over. His personal collections have been exhibited across the globe with shows in London, Berlin and L.A and you can find him working in his independently established JAR studios in Dublin city. He still “skates as much as he can and loves the smell of film.”
Here are a few words from the guy himself.
So, when did you get into skate photography, you’ve skated from a young age?
I got my first skateboard when I was about 8 years old. It was a skinny fiber-glass one with blue rubber wheels and from day one I was hooked. A few years later I got my first “Pro” board and started coming into town and meeting other skaters. It was around then that I started trying to shoot skate photos, which proved to be a humbling experience as it turned out to be way harder than I had hoped and I screwed up roll after roll of film but every now and then I’d get something that was kind of good so that kept me excited and in time I started to get more consistent in my shooting.
What kind of kit did you start out with, what do you use now?
Initially I nicked my dad’s camera which was an Olympus “miu” point and shoot which I still actually use to this day but then I saved up for an SLR manual camera which was a Fujica STX-1 and shot with that for the next 4 years, it was a real work-horse of a yoke. Now I shoot with lots of different camera’s and formats but for most commercial jobs I’m using a Canon 5DmkII and for my own personal work I’m currently working with a Mamiya 7 rangefinder camera and a Wista large format camera. I’m not that much of a gear head really – I try to keep it as simple as possible.
Have any photographers in particular influenced you in your work?
I have been influenced by countless photographers so it’s really hard to try and narrow it down to a few but here’s a few names that I’ve been really obsessed with lately: Robert Adams, Alec Soth, Ed Templeton, Paul Seawright, Tobias Zielony, Ken Grant, Rob Hornstra, Harry Callahan, Donovan Wylie, Sally Mann, Jim Goldberg and Susan Lipper.
You started out shooting film, do you think that helped you gain more skills/ control over your shots?
Shooting on film is pretty unforgiving so you don’t have much of a margin for error so you do need to know what you are at and having that knowledge definitely does stand to you. In saying that you can probably get a really good understanding of photography by learning digitally now without having to spend a fortune on film and processing but I do think that learning on film makes you more disciplined in getting things right as you shoot as opposed to hours of post-production correcting everything afterwards.
Any piece of equipment you couldn’t survive without?
I really love my Hasselblad so that’s probably the piece of equipment I’m most attached to.
How would you describe your style?
I try to photograph the world around me with an honest and atmospheric view. I don’t seek out the picturesque but I don’t go out of my way to avoid it in my work.
You’ve shot in numerous different countries, where’s been your most memorable shoot?
I was once sent to Israel to shoot an article on skateboarding and we ended up breaking into an old abandoned water park in the middle of the desert where we could skate down the slides which was pretty amazing.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently working away on finishing my first book which will be published next September by this really nice French publisher (http://www.1980editions.com/). It is a new body of work looking at DIY skate spots around the world. It will be a mix of landscapes and observed portraits of this subculture. I am as interested in the people that occupy these spaces as much as I am interested in the architecture of these hidden places.
One final question, film or digital?
For the time being I am still backing film…
Check out some more of his work at www.richgilligan.com