Interview with Alex Sheridan
Alex Sheridan is a young Dublin based photographer that has made a name for himself in both the worlds of skating and fashion. We took notice of him at the first Prop Hunters exhibition a few years ago and we've been following his work closely ever since.
A while back we caught up with him to talk about instagram vs print, sneaking photos of your mates and posers wearing Huf shirts. Keep an eye on Alex Sheridan and go check more of his work on his site, tumblr and instagram.
Grape Magazine : What kinda stuff are you into in terms of skate photography, what are you checking out regularly?
Alex Sheridan : Recently i'm been checking out you know Grey Magazine from London? They post sick content regularly and regularly update their stuff. Kingpin as well, recently I've been buying magazines every month or so.
Do you think that the immediacy of Instagram has affected skate photography? I've heard stories of pros who have gotten into trouble for sharing a tricks and stuff like that.
I don't know if it's affected skate photography so much because there's still magazines and I think they're the main places that people would look if they want to see skate photos but it definitely affects how skate videos are made. Like, someone could drop a skate part, a four min part that they filmed for a year, people would share it for like a week and then everybody forgets about it.
I think online there can sometimes be an overload of content, you have a million tabs open all with different stuff and you're not really paying attention to any of it.
Yeah there’s definitely an overload of content; everyone has a camera, everyone wants to be a photographer, everyone wants to be a filmer. It used to be like everyone would only have their photos in print if they’re a photographer but now it's like Instagram, #photography.
That's what makes print more satisfying, I'd definitely prefer to like wait six months for a magazine to come out with my photo in it rather than wait two weeks for a online magazine to come out with my photo in it, you know what I mean? It's something you can hold. It's a product you can feel, rather than something you can just scroll by.
Does this love of print and physicality extend to your photography? Do you shoot film?
I haven’t shot much on film, I've been meaning to but then again it's so expensive just for processing. I don’t mind paying ten euro or whatever it is for a role of film but then its 15 euro on top of that to get it processed. It's hard to justify when you’re making very little money off your photography, spending like 80 cent for each shot you take.
Film is such a risk. Like, I was trying to shoot someone doing a trick on film, he didn't land the trick so then the photo couldn't be used. It's like 10 euro worth of photos just gone.
Any bad experiences when out shooting?
Not bad experiences but it's pretty bad when you spend an hour lying on concrete for someone not to land a trick, but that's just the ins and outs of skateboarding. On one hand you get an insane photo of something that actually happened that someone put hours into, then on the other hand you could spend hours and love the photo but they didn't land it so then you can't use it.
I think it actually happens more than that the trick is landed, I think that’s even worse. There’s been so many times that I've been like 'can you do that again? Sorry I took it a second later and I don't like the composition' or something. I don't know, it's definitely stressful.
You know that scene in 'This Is Skateboarding' when Andrew Reynolds does that kickflip down the huge stairset; the filmer is following him, gets the whole line before it then the whole screen goes black and he's like 'I fucked it up', it's heartbreaking.
I think that's the worst thing possible, straight away knowing 'I fucked it up'. I prefer shooting easy tricks that can be done again quickly rather than big tricks. I feel more scared than the skater themselves when they're trying a kickflip down a 12 stairs like fuck, if I fuck this up they’re going to hate me.
In Dublin, it's pretty hard to find a place where you can solidly skate for the day, there's always security guards or the weather changes or something so you end up moving around looking for spots for most the day; does this lifestyle aspect of skating influence your work?
Yeah I think if you look through my skateboarding portfolio on my website at the moment, it's not only skate tricks. When I started, when I was shooting skating I had no interest in any other type of photography and then I started looking at more fashion photography and portrait photography I was like maybe I could start doing this with my skate stuff cause I didn't know any models or anything to take pictures of.
I'd try get the lads to pose for a portrait which is pretty hard to do because no one wants to get their picture taken and then that developed to lads skating just chilling around. At the moment anyway I prefer taking pictures of the lads skating by; quick portrait while they're not looking kinda thing.
Have you ventured into filming much?
Yeah that's how I got into photography, I used to make shitty shitty skate videos thinking I was the next Dirty Dublin kinda thing. I'd put them on Youtube thinking 'holy shit this is so sick, I'm gonna get so much props' then people were just like 'what the fuck is this kid doing?' Then I got like a DSLR camera to shoot HD video but I started taking pictures more and stopped making videos.
Recently you've been expanding you work beyond skating, shooting portraits for Prowlster and things like that. How did you get into that? Since you're involved in both scenes, which do you think it's easier to get involved with fashion or skateboarding?
Both skateboarding and fashion photography are difficult to break into in many different ways, but they have similarities. Really, both come down to who you know and who you're taking pictures of. To be a skate photographer you really need to be a skateboarder yourself, and be out skating every weekend to capture the tricks people are doing. And of course you have to know skaters in the first place. They have to trust that you can get the photo while they're risking themselves, which is a trust that is built over time.
Breaking into fashion photography takes a lot of time and relationship building, and making people aware of you and your work. When I first wanted to start shooting models I think it took like 7/8 months from when I first contacted an agency to when I did my first test shoot for them. My first proper experience of fashion photography came when I assisted Alex Hutchinson on a couple of shoots, that made me realise that you can take pictures of models in a very natural way, it doesn't always have to be posed, and that made me want to shoot fashion more.
What's your opinion about the trendiness of skating in fashion right now like...
People wearing Huf t-shirts in town who've never stepped on a board in their life?
Yeah or like in a Vogue editorial, some model holding a board?
Wearing a Palace jumper & Palace socks...
Exactly. What do you think of that kind of thing?
I don't know, it's bound to happen eventually. It happens to everything. I think it's bad when you see a girl wearing a Palace t-shirt and nothing else. I think without sounding like a fucking prick, when you see those guys in Temple Bar standing around central bank wearing Janoski's, Huf t-shirts that kinda shit, it's like 'you don't know where that company came from', not that I know where every company I wear came from but still...
Any last words or shout outs?
Shout out to Shredboyz, RIP.