A true photographer doesn’t take an image and leave; they get to know their subjects. Let me tell you, it is not easy when you’re a relatively shy girl going up to a group of people with a camera asking them if you can shoot them. You have to make your subjects feel safe, you have to connect with them and you have to have a plan. It’s a whole procedure.
I went to Venice Beach to photograph skateboarders because I love the atmosphere down there. I had no idea how I was going to introduce myself. My boyfriend at the time had the idea of getting our football from the car and asking some of the guys hanging around the skate park to play. He also suggested a few cold beers might do the trick as well. Bingo. Within ten minutes we had the whole park playing football (including the skaters) and the twelve pack went to a zero pack. It was chaos, but organized chaos. Somehow it looked as if they had practiced this before.
The skaters embraced us so quickly, asking about our lives and telling us about theirs. One was on the run, one was homeless, a lot of them seemed to have no families. But what they all had in common was an understanding and respect for each other and their tough lives.. They skated to escape, building their family at the skatepark.
Each time I go back to the park, I search for those guys. Sometimes I catch a familiar face, but most times it’s a new set of skaters. I get sad that the same group we hung out with will probably never be together again, but then I realize the beauty in that. As a photographer I had connected with my subjects and had captured a time, a moment of magic that would never be replicated.