Interview: Tom Quigley of Varial Magazine on his upcoming exhibition

Nottingham Photog and all-round skate traveller Tom Quigley has been a big part of the Nottingham and Midlands scene for a while now. We caught up with him to talk about his upcoming exhibition ‘Weekends And Everything Inbetween’ which opens March 1st 2019.

Hooked:
You do a lot for the skate community… making sure people are constantly on missions, organising events and helping skateboarding get better rep in the press. 
Tell us about the exhibition first… 

Tom:
My new exhibition is another look into my ongoing body of work shooting the Nottingham skate scene on film – this show will feature the past 4 years of imagery. Weekends & everything in between opens at Surface Gallery on March 1st, 6-8pm, and is then open until March 9th. Free entry, and it’s a stone’s throw away from Sneinton Market!
 
 
TomQuigley_WeekendsAndEverythingInBetween_Poster_FB
What have you noticed about skateboarding in the years you’ve been shooting?
Has anything changed, how do people approach asking to get a shot, what kind of tricks do people want to document etc? Any trends in shooting – lenses, techniques, angles?
From what I’ve experienced, locals don’t often ask to get a shot as much as you’d think. I don’t know if it’s that they don’t know me that well and don’t know how to ask, or whether it’s just that most people are too busy enjoying skating to be bothered about having it documented with photos. (A phone clip is enough for some!) Some of the guys I know are always super keen though, and will usually talk to me about an idea beforehand. It’ll often be a spot they’ve just discovered or even a new trick they’ve just learned. Then we’ll arrange a photo mission and I’ll see if I can do the spot/trick justice in a photo! In a way, getting asked to shoot something is a massive compliment, and always gets me stoked. Plus there’s something much more powerful about a photo that I think will outlast video.
In terms of skate photography “trends”, I think we’ve just continued on the same path laid out by those shooting 20-something years ago. The foundations were built, and we’re just taking them and adapting them to all the strange and wonderful objects and spots around the world. The digital equipment continues to improve, but the essence of a good photo remains the same. Also, for my film photography, I keep it classic with cameras from the 70s & 80s, so no modern day equipment trend will help me!
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Andrew Holt working on Nottingham DIY
There are probably tonnes of amazing stories behind each shot – give us an example of a time where you’ve been in a sticky situation or a major LOL moment whilst shooting?
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A couple of my favourite shots are the ones that make me laugh – there’s Kane dropping in on the most ridiculous triangular metal sign in the middle of a roundabout in a business park, with nothing but a flimsy plastic sign on the grass at the bottom. That was just something we stumbled across on a solo mission and he did it a couple of times for a laugh. There’s also a shot from one of the Sunday Circuit comps over at Hucknall – Romello was on the mic and getting everyone hyped in true Mello fashion, I was trying to catch Nathan & Holt’s reactions but Mello was moving so quickly that he crept into my shot. It’s typical of his energy and it shows in the image – see if you can spot the one I’m talking about at the exhibition!
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Josh Price – boardslide
Who do you look up to the most in skateboard photography? Who do you look up to most in terms of other photography?
I mean, I could easily just list all the guys that shot for Sidewalk & Document throughout the years…they inspired me from the early 2000s onwards and still kill it today. Plus when they’re kind enough to chat equipment & photography advice like Horse, CJ & Leo, that’s always super rad. I try to do the same for beginners with the one or two things I’ve learned! Pay it forward and all that…
I also love seeing the “early” skate photography from the 80s & 90s from people like Grant Brittain, Wig Worland & Tim Leighton-Boyce – not just for the nostalgia, but to see how skate photography was approached back then, all on film as well. Outside of skateboarding, I dig seeing bodies of work like Danny Lyon’s The Bikeriders or the incredible archives of Vivian Maier – where these collections of images really illustrate a time, place and maybe a particular group of people or section of society. I guess that’s what any great photographer should aim for – I certainly hope my film photography has a similar effectiveness in 30 years’ time. The more time that passes; the more striking, meaningful, and “of an era” the images become, I reckon.
TomQuigley_Hooked05_VicCamilleri_5050
Vic Camilleri – 5050
You travel quite a bit to shoot. Where have you been, what was great about the places?
Where are you planning next and what do you aim to get from it?
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​I have been travelling a bit over the last few years – making up for lost time when I never left the country as a younger man! I shot in San Francisco with my buddy Maynard a couple of years back – spending a week exploring the city and hunting out all the famous spots was really fun. I recently did a couple of trips to skate Malmö and Malaga – both cool cities for skateboarding and good opportunities to shoot in new locations. In terms of the work in this exhibition though, it’s all pretty local and a close look at Nottingham’s scene, with a bit of Derby & Loughborough thrown in for good measure! I’ll be sure to share all my international stuff sometime soon.
TomQuigley_Hooked08_ElliotMaynard
Elliot Maynard
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What’s your favourite shot from your upcoming exhibition and why?
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Such a difficult question! I’m really stoked on many for different reasons, such as the shot of Holt using a buzzsaw at our old DIY, just because it tells a good story, it reminds me of working and skating at that spot – which was the best – and also because that one ended up on the cover of local mag LeftLion. There’s a photo of Bevan pole jamming that I love, because of a light leak that nearly fucked up the whole shot, but actually added some incredible colours to it. But if I had to pick, I think it’s gotta be Bambi & the pigeon at Sneinton Market. I like that they’re both equally going about their day at our favourite spot – and also, you can’t see Bam’s board, but I still think of this as a “skate” photo. A skater who’d never seen Sneinton would see the ledges in this shot and know what’s going through Bambi’s head.
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Andrew Holt – Working on the DIY 
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What do you shoot on – talk us through your setup?
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For my film photography it’s as simple a setup as possible! My 35mm is a fully mechanical 1970s Zenit-B. The new addition to my gear back in 2016 was a Hasselblad 500C/M which I’m thoroughly enjoying shooting with. I’d never really shot medium format before then, but it’s obviously challenged my approach a little in terms of composition and still being able to shoot quickly & candidly. Plus the Carl Zeiss lens renders beautiful results – I’m really stoked with the quality of my medium format photos. I’ll also have a few polaroids in this exhibition which came from a land camera, and I’ve recently started keeping an Olympus point-and-shoot in my pocket at all times to try and retain some creativity when normally I wouldn’t, such as on my way to work!
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Phil Long, getting hammers
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Tell us a bit about the other work you’ve been doing, i.e. LeftLion and other initiatives?
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I’ve always tried to contribute photos here and there to Nottingham’s free culture magazine, LeftLion, over the years – and last year they kindly offered me the chance to be guest editor on a skate-themed issue. Working with their team and all my creative mates – writers, artists, photographers – that I’d met through skating, we managed to put together a variety of articles & features on the local scene and the people that make it so rad. I’ve also been lending my photo skills to support Skate Nottingham as much as possible – they’ve really smashed it over the last couple of years by establishing themselves as our city’s not-for-profit organisation with opportunities for our scene at their heart. They even sent 3 of our locals out to compete in 2018’s Skate Malmö Street competition, which was the reason I headed out there to shoot that city, and document Notts overseas!
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Greg Hollingsworth, BambiPrice & Adam Gaucher
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What knowledge have you learned from shooting that you’d love up and coming photographers to know? 
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So much over the years! I won’t attempt to sound like some sort of expert – because I’ve still got shitloads to learn – and I won’t bore you with technical stuff, but the dedication to keep on shooting is definitely something worth highlighting. A lot of kids get hyped to photograph skating, but never stick with it, which is a shame. I guess the really passionate ones will find ways to do it as much as possible, and they’re the ones who’ll get hooked on it. And it isn’t always easy. Missed opportunities, missed focus, poor timing, equipment faults – there’s a long list of ways to fail at getting that shot you’re after in your head. But everyone goes through those, or went through those at one point, so it’s not just you.
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Also, this has been said by much wiser people than I, but remember that no-one’s going to achieve anything for you. You gotta get out there and do it, and have full satisfaction from your own work. So if you want to make a magazine, go find out how to make it. Learn some design skills and talk to a printers. If you want to put on an exhibition, print some work and start scouting for venues. It could be the most prestigious gallery, or just some empty retail unit – talk to them all and see if you can rent the space. If you want to photograph some crazy spot halfway across the world – save up for them flights and go. Get it done, and see what comes from it. And don’t forget to enjoy it all while you’re doing it – always keep that eye on your long-term goals, but don’t get stuck in a constant state of smashing through projects without appreciating them.
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Ryan Wright – Sweeper Fakie 
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What do you aim to learn / shoot / do this year that will continue to inspire you?
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​I’m hoping to travel to more new cities & countries for skating, and stay motivated to create, always. Real life and day jobs get in the way most of the time, but putting aside time for creativity is so important. Also, to continue playing a part in fuelling Nottingham’s onslaught of killer events, new parks, new skaters and great photography. The scene here has gone from strength to strength over the years and is something the locals should be incredibly proud of.
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Bambi Price 
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Who do you want to thank, shout out to, name drop etc for supporting you and shooting with you during your work for this exhibition?
 
​Big thanks to Surface Gallery for having me there, Dan & co at The Photo Parlour for being such a crucial part of the city’s identity, Chris & Bernacki for supporting with Skate Nottingham, the LeftLion crew for their support (and the covers!), but most of all the hard workers who do the photo missions – and everyone that features in photos and doesn’t mind me pointing cameras at them – hope you dig the shots! Also gotta give props to Hangup, Dogpiss, North, Vague and everyone still putting out photos in print.
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See more of Tom’s work at his website, or the Varial magazine website.
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Get to the exhibition ‘Weekends And Everything Inbetween’ 
Surface Gallery on March 1st, 6-8pm (opening night),
open until March 9th
Free entry!
 

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