Photographer of the Month October: Michele J Hale
Michele hales from Austin Texas and has been shooting the local crew for as long as we've been rolling!
When did you first pick up a camera?
2012, I think. I started out assisting a wedding photographer. But I ditched that to make art on my own because I wanted to do it my way. I started shooting skateparks in 2014.
Image: Carly (@bozocakes) at House Park in Austin, 2014
What inspired you to take up skatepark photography?
I heard about it through the derby community and Shanx suggested I come out to shoot. I was injured at the time and did that first shoot in a boot. I think I shot like every other weekend after that. I spent a lot of time at the parks in Austin. That's where I met Indy (@indyjammajones), who introduced me to Trample (@ladytrample) and that's where I met Rasta (@rastafury), who is a long-time photo collaborator and friend.
Image: Indy @indyjammajones with a sick bendy handstand, Pflugerville Skatepark in Austin, 2016
Who are your biggest influences?
Thrasher Magazine from the late 80s, early 90s. Bones Brigade (Tony Hawk, Lance Mountain, Steve Caballero), all of those skaters from that era (I had a John Lucero deck). I was a skateboard chick because that shit was rad - I still have a scar on my shin from where I unsuccessfully went off my brother's launch ramp and then my mom took my skateboard away (I stole it back).
When shooting at a skatepark, what are you hoping to capture?
I generally like to get the big tricks. I would like to work on getting some extras in a more photojournalistic style. I've been out of the scene for a hot minute just because I started skating derby and didn't have a whole lot of extra time. Y'all know that old derby excuse, "I had practice."
What do you enjoy the most about capturing this scene?
I love seeing womxn show up at skateparks on quads and just really going for it. My least favorite thing is when someone asks me if I'm somebody's mom (yeah, that totally happened once).
Image: Estro (@estrojen) does the can-can! Circa 2016
Have you had any stand out sessions?
Shooting Trample and Sarah Hipel at House Park in Austin in 2015 (fun fact - that was the same day that marriage equality passed in the US). Trample kicked me a few times and Hipel almost killed me on a stall. Those low, dangerous angles are the best ones.
Image: Sarah (@sarah_hipel) gets vertical at House Skatepark in Austin, 2015
Favourite trick to capture?
I love when someone has a new trick. That's always fun because everybody is excited about that and you don't know what to expect. The tabernacle is a cool trick, especially if you're shooting from the coping, which is my favorite angle outside of the bowl. Some people add a little kick when they turn though (ahem).
Dream skater to shoot with!
Can we put Tilda Swinton on skates? But, really, I've been lucky enough to shoot some really great skaters at the parks - Indy, Estro Jen and this tall ginger whose name escapes me. I'd love to shoot Havoc and Bomba Hache. I'd also give half my tattoos to shoot Tony Hawk or Steve Caballero.
Image: Trample @ladytrample gets a grab at House Skatepark, circa 2019
One piece of advice for anyone looking to get involved in skatepark photography?
There is no shame in wearing a helmet and don't be afraid to get into the bowl (that's where some of the best angles are). If you're going to be in the bowl getting those up-angles, work on your agility because what goes up, must come down.