In our Photo Annual, we sat down with photographer Alana Paterson to discuss Tevas, book clubs, river kayaks, skate photography, and her dislike of fisheye lenses. Here it is.
“Photography as skating’s bitch isn’t my thing.”
I’ve admired the photography of Alana Paterson for some time now. To me, it has always looked like Alana is out skateboarding and having the best time with interesting people. Her photos have that personal, documentarian feeling to them without seeming self-indulgent in any way. She’s somehow the central character in a story about everyone except her. I sat down to talk with Alana and to see some of her favourite photos of this past year.
Wade Fyfe, Backside Nosegrind
Where were you raised?
I was raised between the southern Gulf Islands and Victoria, B.C. So basically just around the B.C. coast. I have an embarrassing amount of coastal B.C. pride and although I may leave often, I always have and always will return.
How and when were you introduced to skateboarding?
My cousins Cholo and Koosh Burns were the first people to ever put me on a skateboard. I was probably around four when they would put me between their knees and bomb The Dale Hill in West Vancouver. Cholo set up my first board for me. I remember seeing them hit their tails on the ground to pick up their boards and just being spun on how cool they were. I still skate with Cholo. He’s one of my best people.
left: Jon Brown
right: Hector Diaz, Frontside Ollie to pillar
How were you first introduced to photography?
Aside from the obvious family photos and stuff, my sister gave me a Pentax SLR and just told me to keep the aperture on 8 and I’d be fine. I guess I figured it out from there.
How much does skateboarding affect where you go, who you know and what you do?
Well if I didn’t skateboard I probably wouldn’t know half the lowlifes I engage with on the regular. I’d probably be friends with dudes who wear Tevas and have river kayaks. It certainly has made traveling and moving around a lot easier. I don’t know if its this way for dudes, but if I move to a new city and spend a few weeks at the local warm up spot, I can usually make friends with a bunch of people to go out to skate and hang with pretty quick. Skateboarding just makes it so easy. I’ve never been able to figure out how people who don’t skateboard make friends. Book clubs? Or, “hey you ordered the same coffee as me?” I have no idea.
Riley Boland with a hip Nosegrind
Have you ever had a desire to try and shoot skateboarding in a more traditional way, maybe with flashes and fisheye?
Fisheye? No, never. I don’t like it. It’s boring to me. Flashes, yes. For me its photography first so if I’m shooting a skate photo its going to be about the aesthetic of the photo first and the skating second. The fisheye is really to bend (figuratively) around skating. Flashes can be really neat. Long lens on film is deadly. But no, photography as skating’s bitch isn’t my thing.
Who’s in your ideal skate session to join and shoot and where is it?
Lucky for me, my perfect day has happened a lot. I like to go to Burnside early-ish like 2 or 3pm. I can get some lines in for two hours before the heavy locals show up and I can’t skate anymore. Then I start shooting with them until dark or until I get bored. There’s always someone there getting some. Burnside is Mecca.
Adam Hopkins laps a Back Smith in an Oregon deep end.