Dom West

The Adam Kola Story (Pt 1)

If you ever checked out a blade magazine, chances are high you are already familiar with Adam Kola’s work. Over the past two decades, he has shot most of your favorite pros and his photos got featured in almost every single print publication. There aren’t many photographers who have been involved with blading for that long and are still as motivated, as helpful and supportive as Adam.

While our focus is often on the bladers themselves, we also want to feature the people that are making it all possible. Not only is Adam an essential part of the Be-Mag staff since day one, he also helped shape the career of a very long list of big names. As he captured their best moves for most major media outlets, he became an essential witness of our sport’s history as it unfolded.

We are proud to call Adam our friend, proud to have him as such a big part of Be-Mag’s history, and today we are proud to present the first installment of this 3 piece History Lesson with one of blading’s finest photographers to date!

adam kola ptrait 2
Photo: Danielle Valentine

Interview: Johannes Jacobi
Photography: Adam Kola, Dom West, Danielle Valentine

Hey Adam, thanks for doing this with us. Where are you right now and what did you do before you started answering my questions?
Hey JoJo, how’s it going? No worries at all, Be-Mag’s been on point this past year with content so I hope I can match up to it. I’ve actually answered this a few times now and it keeps changing because I keep semi completing this interview. Right now, I’m sat on a plane on my way to Vietnam to do some exploring and treat my camera to some lovely experiences.

You are living in Sydney, Australia right now. Why did you move away from England and what are you doing for a living these days?
Ye, at the moment I am based in Sydney. My girlfriend and I moved here June 2014 on a 1 year working holiday visa but with the intention of extending that to two years via the 3 months of manual labour you need to do in order for the 2nd year to be granted. However due to my age I’m not able to go down that route (only found out once we were already here).
I had visited Sydney around 6 years ago as my brother was living out here with his fiancé. I was actually in Cali shooting and my parents were coming out here to see my brother, they hadn’t seen him in almost 2 years and they kept saying how great it would be if we could all be together, so I booked a flight and surprised them all.
It was actually great timing as the Valo bunch were here on tour staying 5 minutes from my brothers, Dom West and the Vine St. lot had just moved into there house together so it made pal’ing up really easy.
During those two weeks I really enjoyed Sydney, it’s a great blend of what I find enjoyable, a decent sized downtown, lovely beaches, good climate and a fun skate scene.
The main reason for moving here besides the above factors was that I was turning 30 and that’s the last year in which you are able to get the working holiday visa and generally being able to work in another country is quite a hard task, so this takes a lot of the hassle out of it. It was just a life thing I wanted to do and my girlfriend had always liked the idea of living in Australia for a while so it worked out well. I was living in London before this, all of my best friends are there or nearby and it’s very comfortable. London’s architecture and sights are stunning; simply walking around city on a Sunday is one of the best things to do ever! If I’m truly honest it’s quite hard to fault London.
I’m working as a Photographer / Photographer’s assistant / Digi Op. Having shot skating professionally for so long I realised I’d actually neglected myself from a whole industry. Obviously taking photos of blading is my number 1 thing that I love to shoot and it really aids you in learning the practice of photography, learning about strobes and outdoor lighting mixed with ambient which can cross over to any industry.
However when shooting more mainstream industries it feels like a whole different approach, there’s more people involved from producers, art directors, stylists and hair and make up each putting forward their mark. It’s this commercial side of photography I hadn’t really experienced but has been a continuing valuable lesson. It’s really great fun feeding off each other and learning new techniques to create a strong image.

Photo: Dom West

With who do you spent time over there and are you shooting blading a lot?
Right now my girlfriend and I share an apartment with Dom West and his girlfriend Katie. So I spend a lot of my time hanging with Dom and skating with the ‘Vine Gang’, whom I’m sure most of you are aware of. Generally we skate a few times a week, everyone are really productive out here and when off the blades the lads are all good at hanging with each other. I must say I’m quite an old man these days so a lot of my spare time is spent with my bird.
I’ve definitely been shooting a lot more blading since I got here, there’s just so many good skaters in such close proximity of each other that it’s made it a lot easier, plus shooting in a new city always helps, you see things everywhere. Not that I wasn’t shooting much before I arrived I just think I allow things to stack up on my hardrives too easily.
I think I’ve just been shooting a lot more generally. Australia is such a huge country that it’s lended itself to some great outdoorsy vibe photos and just life stuff.

When did you start taking pictures and did you ever go to photo school?
The first time I ever took photos was at cub scouts aged around 8/9, which is a sort of after school for activities.
Then again at 15 at high school, all very brief and in my eyes all very boring. I was too concerned with skating. Since the day I first got skates at 12 it became my obsession, everything I was involved in or enjoyed took a side step.
Once choosing what to do after high school is when photography became an idea again. I had been snapping random photos on disposables whenever we would do sleepovers at skateparks and it was from that that I thought maybe I should study photography. I think more of a way that I could tie the two together and class it as school work.
So I enrolled into my local college and studied photography for 2 years alongside some other courses. It was here that I really started to get a taste for it and feed my new passion. Asides from learning the practical side of it, developing and printing film, I also found the theory and history side interesting, which for me is very rare so I must have been hooked! It’s quite strange actually as apparently my teacher had the best exam results in the country even though I remember on numerous occasions he would never show up to teach us. Too busy shooting stuff I’d imagine.

Did you ever plan on making a career out of it?
Not a chance! Still to this day I’m unsure about my career path. I honestly think it is one of the hardest decisions you have to make. Figuring out what you want to do, everyday, for the rest of your life, that’s massive man! To do something I have fun with is the obvious choice and so far I have been very fortunate that photography has lent that to me.
I have so many ideas, primarily visual, that if I can just create imagery and people like it and are willing to pay for it then I’ll be a happy man.

Brandon Campbell, Temecula - Location, Orange County
Brandon Campbell

How would you describe your own style as a photographer?
Ooh, a tough one. I would say ‘moody’, or hope to think it’s seen like that. I’ve always been into contrast, be it in skies, oceans, landscapes and buildings. So I strive to achieve a little of that within my imagery.
Within a blade photo I would always try to light everything to allow the sky to really emerge into the imagery. Primarily shooting in the UK I guess it’s a huge part of the blading process and just weather in general, British people love to talk/complain about the weather.

A while ago, almost all photographers in blading worked with a lot of lights and flashes and these days it seems to be more about lifestyle shots and a certain “snapshot” style. What’s your opinion on that topic?
I’m a flash man! I completely whole-heartedly love skate shots with flash. You can create so much drama with the use of strobes. In saying that, I am a fan of the ‘candid’ style, catching that rare moment is hard, almost harder than the way I shoot as you are constantly looking through the lens for some magic, what I do is essentially staged, you have the sweet spot all prepped and just wait for the right moment.
I believe there is a place for both! Your average Jonny nobody wouldn’t have a clue what we get up to on a daily basis when out blading, if they did I’m 100% sure they would want to see more. When I explain to friends I climbed down a gutter and found an underground storm drain, they’re pretty bloody intrigued. Showing off THAT lifestyle is great! In all honesty there has never been a lack of that photography, I have hundreds of negatives of friends chilling that I’m sure will be great to release sometime, it’s just that inline skating was evolving so rapidly that it was important to put out the fresh newest tricks. I guess I’m thinking about the pre-social media era, when everything was print and hard copies.
That’s another interesting question actually. If a magazine printed 30% trick, 70% lifestyle, therefore holding back on some gnarly stuff but exposing the fun group side of things, do you think blading would have progressed slower globally
Obviously VHS’ were being released but it was magazines that gave you your monthly fix of what was new. Not too sure, maybe I’m just chatting nonsense now haha.
Back to the original question, another reason for the giant push of the lifestyle vibe has to be the introduction of digital cameras and the ease of shooting a semi decent photo and social media! Everyone in any industry have an online footprint and a following and keeping that following updated daily is key. To put out a hammer or beautifully lit (natural or flashed) trick takes a lot of work, especially given the few bladers and fewer photographers, so releasing that behind the scenes, natural, hanging out vibe photo is a lot easier, maybe even a cop out!

charles dunkle, royale wallride topsoul, london
Charles Dunkle

Do you remember your first ever blading photo?
My first ever blading photo, I’m not sure I do. I think it might be either some tricks on a curb outside my house or on a launch ramp I got built that was on my driveway. This is all on a disposable point and shoot camera though, before I bought an SLR.

First photo printed in a magazine?
Britney Spears in Unity Magazine, would you believe it? I remember we had just got off the train at Manchester Piccadilly and there was this really fancy hotel at the bottom of the hill, ‘Malmaison’. A small crowd had gathered and I asked what was going on and someone said Britney Spears was about to come out. Well, this was just after ‘hit me baby one more time’ and she was quite a big deal / a bit of a crush, so my friends and I waited. Fast forward an hour and she sure as hell walks out, I snapped a few images but what happened after I would never have predicted. My friend Neil Mcdonald, to say he had a crush was putting it lightly, ‘he was well into our Britney’, he only went and bloody skitched on her tour bus as it drove away and I snapped the whole thing, mad bastard.
So it was this that got printed in the news section. What was quite annoying is that I told my teacher about the incident and he told me he could have sold them quite easily to a newspaper for me however I had already sent the slides off to Unity.

Dominic Sagona, Orange County - Location, Temecula
Dominic Sagona

Back then, blading was in a much healthier stage than today, was it possible to make a living from blading photography only?
It was definitely in a better state, you only had to walk into your local newsagents and there was a choice of magazines to pick from. However I am technically the third generation of photographers I think (if that even is a thing). You had your original Daily Bread crew, then the second coming I would say was Brian Konoske, Dan Busta, Ryan Schude, Wes Driver etc. Obviously each country had there own guys, we had the original Unity crew/DNA guys (Lee Mart), France was Anto at Crazy Roller, it’s just easier using the Americans as a reference point. Then I would class myself alongside Jeremy Stephenson, Philip Forstner etc. I could be wrong with all this though.
Back to your question, when I first started receiving commission for my images it wasn’t THAT much, maybe about £150/200 for a cover, so about £70 for a full page shot. I was living at home and just pouring any money I had into train tickets, it was sustainable. However they were the best rates I ever had in rollerblading, I know other guys were paid more, either before me or the same era, they had made a name for themselves so I appreciate that completely. I was able to survive but I think purely for the fact I was living at home at no cost. You also have to take into consideration film was a lot, say £5 a roll, developing at £5, posting of the images, buying gear. I also hadn’t made a name for myself yet to be able to get the advertising jobs and there were more photographers around, so you are competing for editorials. I have always enjoyed venturing to new places and shooting fresh stuff, although at times I have been pigeonholed to Manchester, I was travelling to Scotland, London loads, Midlands and then a few years later the States, Spain, just all over. So that ate into my income too.
These days it’s almost back to the very beginning. Just having someone see your image is a privilege enough. We are in a very tricky situation, video has VOD but a photo doesn’t have much. As a photographer I obviously regard photos highly within blading, but as a whole it seems like not many people feel the same. I see so many edits and tour videos but no images from them, I’m always zoning in to see if anyone is in the background with a camera or any gear set up and nothing. So much prime content could be collected and it’s being neglected. Understandably there’s less avenues for the images to go down but I’m sure there’s still an importance. I also wonder if everything becomes video content and the main focus for imagery is lifestyle based, how do you find out what a trick is called?

Jeff Stockwell, Orange County - Location, San Diego
Jeff Stockwell

Could you list all blading related magazines you ever took photos for?
I’ll try… Unity Magazine, Freenation, Kingdom Magazine, Be-Mag, Daily Bread Magazine, One, Radius Media, Roll2Soul, Amateur, Clac, Arrogance, Roll’s, Wheelscene, Abec Fanzine.
I think that’s everything in the blading world. Oh one more, there was a book I shot for called ‘To the limits, Blading’, pretty sure I got the cover of that one actually.

Is there such thing as a favorite magazine? Not necessarily the one you shot the most for, but one that you personally like/liked the most because of their style or a personal relation?
That’s really hard, as I’m just a huge fan of print generally. But DNA magazine was extraordinary, from the photos to the design and format. Every issue was just phenomenal, I even think they hold up with today’s standards.
The other two that I think have been great were Crazy Roller, again the design was always ‘cool’ with fresh ideas but the photography of ‘Anto’ was just class, his black and white images had so much emotion. Then Rejects, Wes Driver was in a league of his own in my opinion, a true pro! The 6×6 format was made for skating and Wes knew how to rock it and get the vibrance going.

What would be the worst photo job you ever did?
Oh, I’m not too sure. Unity was always fun to shoot, as the more I grew as a photographer the more I started to get to know bladers all over and they all became my best friends, but on the flip side, getting paid was ALWAYS hard work, their terms were 60 days and even then they lagged. When they eventually shut shop I actually had to threaten them with a letter from the small claims court to get what I was due.
I’m sure I have been screwed somewhere down the line, I’m a pretty passive person so I find it difficult to be strict with people.
Actually one job springs to mind, I was shooting for Nike in Amsterdam, one of these ‘we run the night’ gigs they do, 10,000 women in the Olympic stadium, mega. One shot they wanted was of these 4 models running out of the stadium ahead of the crowd when the race started. Well, the gun goes off, the girls run out, they have to pass through a tunnel and I’m waiting on the other side in a great vantage point in a cherry picker. Once the girls get through, they’ve all been overtaken and lost in the crowd and I’m shooting just a heap of shit. Not really the worst job but with regards to accomplishing a job, it really fucking sucked, especially when the client is Nike. Not like you can tell 10,000 people to start again.

erik bailey,pudslide to fakie,SF
Erik Bailey

You went on tours for almost every blade brand out there. Do you remember all of them and if so, could you please give us the full list?
This question I’m afraid I can’t answer completely. I’ve been on so many tours and travelled the UK and Europe so extensively that I can’t honestly remember some countries / towns I’ve been to. One of them being the tour when I first met you actually, where the hell did we go man? I remember stopping in Heilbronn and you were a rock star there and knew everyone, then to some street festival with Mathias Silhan somewhere and then where the hell was Marc Dubied’s place?
I would say its been 60% blade tours with specific stops / demos, then 40% trips to purely shoot, a lot of those were either stateside or Europe.

Yeah, that was one of my first tours. So much fun. What was the best tour ever and for what reasons?
I don’t think I have one. The UK tours I’ve always loved as it’s your best mates and always great banter. Valo was always fun as their riders I got on with really well, although every team is filled with such rad people they were always great. It’s actually been a while since I went on a team’s tour, be good to do one again. Actually do teams even tour these days?

richie, fishy, sitges
Richie Eisler

Is there such thing as the most crazy tour story and could you please share it with us?
Fuck man, so much shit happens on tour it’s hard to remember everything, and like I’ve mentioned, my memory is dreadful. Generally though, nothing mental happens directly towards me as I’m quite the quiet persona but being surrounded by a bunch of lads, all who have such stronger characters than myself, you can’t help but attract trouble.
To cover a few funny memories, one would be in Bristol, UK, a Conference tour. A bar filled with an army themed fancy dress party. Fast forward an hour and Carlos has struck a cord with some of them. A brawl breaks out and you’ve literally got the military against us! Someone informs me what’s going on so I think myself, Si Cox and Alex Pym run outside and it’s war. Everyone somehow escapes decent and I just remember Alex Pym running up a hill in hysterics as he started fighting with the bouncer and they tried to eye poke him and he did the weird flat hand in front of the face block and it ACTUALLY worked, he was chuffed. I would love to have seen the CCTV of that one.
Another, a fight story once again. One of the first UK USD tours and we are in Newquay, a summer holiday heaven for chavvy English people. Around 2am and the night was drawing to a close, we were walking home and some lads were being racist to Travis Sweeney, everyone was being patient ignoring them and they kept persisting. Well Mark Trebble had had enough, he downed his can of beer and clocked the dude in one swift movement, can in hand! Crushing it flat like you do when you step on it, but only it was the dude’s face.
Last one, which I believe has been long enough it can be unearthed now. A tour to promote Tory Treseder‘s new skate, we were on route to Playstation in London and Charles Dunkle really needed to piss, so standardly he relieved himself into an empty 2 litre bottle, surprisingly he almost filled it and once closed up he found the bottle to be pleasantly warm, so he used it as a hot water bottle for the remainder of the journey, smart but a little weird. We finally arrive outside the skatepark and everyone start getting out. Bruno Lowe had been asleep this whole time and in his just woken up, I’m parched docile state he grabs this bottle and quotes ‘oh apple juice’ and goes to take a swig! Oli Short and myself literally scream at the top of our lungs “BRUNO NOOO…”, his remark back in broken English and pure disgust “WHAT THE FUCK IZ THIS SHIT”! Oli and I jump out of the bus in stitches unable to contain ourselves, I was laughing unable to even breath let alone talk, Oli is running around the skatepark shouting Bruno just drank Charles’ piss (I’m actually almost crying now as I write this). I’m pretty sure that is one of my fondest memories, just the look on everyone’s face and it was in the ‘Face the Music’ era, so god knows what Charles’ piss would have been like. I think Bruno didn’t step out of the van after that, stayed hidden away for quite some time.
More memories are actually flooding to me now, the time Don Bambrick was arguing with some bouncers at a bar in Liverpool and kept exclaiming, “Kola’s got my back” against what quite possibly could have been the largest 3 bouncers I had ever seen. Good job I was able to calm that situation down. There’s actually quite a few that have ended so badly that it’s best not mentioning them, sorry. There’s probably enough Sean Cullen stories to write a book with too.
Even the day to day life of just skating, it’s incredible what you can end up getting yourselves into. Ben Schwab is a funny one, coming to visit me to hang out for two weeks and he fancied going to Barcelona for a few days on his own, so I gave him a bunch of peoples contacts and what to do upon arrival, Ben being rather naïve didn’t think much of it and just thought he’d be ok. 4 hours later I have a phone call from him at the airport and his opening line “Adam, what do I do, everybody speak Spanish” haha, oh Ben.

Oli Short, London - Location, Lisbon
Oli Short

Is there a way you could give us a list of all pro’s you ever worked with?
Holy shit, that’s fucking hard. I’ll just try to reel off names, no particular order, Oli Short, Charles Dunkle, Mike Lilly, Tory Treseder, Bruno Lowe, Jeff Stockwell, Chris Haffey, Iain Mcleod, Alex Broskow, Erik Bailey, Brandon Smith, Jon Julio, Leon Humphries, Chaz Sands, Alex Burston, Nick Lomax, Chris Farmer, Brian Shima, Billy O’Neill, Dominic Sagona, Richie Eisler, Cj Wellsmore, Rian Arnold (he’s not pro but he fucking should be – inside joke alert), Gav Drumm, Rachard Johnson, Demetrios George, Brandon Campbell, Gabriel Hyden, Marc Moreno, Rob Guererro, JC Rowe, Dominik Wagner, Jochen Smuda, Mathieu Heineman, Richard Taylor, Chris Cheshire, Eric Perkett, Ben Schwab, Randy Spizer, Louie Zamora, Albert Hooi…
I know there is a lot more but it’s hard to remember, it’s also a fine line between some people who technically aren’t pro but are great skaters and deserved something. One last name, which was an honour, Arlo Eisenberg. That one even my none blading brother was amazed about as he remembers me watching the Hoax’ growing up on repeat.

Brian Shima, San Fransisco - Location, Manchester
Brian Shima

After shooting with so many people from all corners of the world, could you please name us a few of your favorite people to shoot with and the reason for it?
Most people I have shot with have all been good fun and easy, from top pro’s to am’s as basically everyone have a strong grasp of what they are capable of.
In terms of being great for the camera, Oli (Short) has to be one of the best. He knew exactly what looked good from spot selection to executing the trick, I owe him a lot as through him my eye for blading matured.
I’ve always loved shooting with Jeff Stockwell. Whatever we would go and shoot he would pretty much do it perfect every time, it was such a pleasure to watch his consistency. He’s become a great friend so it’s made the shooting experience more enjoyable the older we get.
Shooting with Broskow again for his Booted feature was brilliant too. I’ve shot with Alex a bunch but this was the first time away from the States or not on tour. He’s got to be the best at knowing how things should be at the moment. I really admire that he knows 100% how his blading should look, so we could shoot a trick 20 times all landed what most would consider perfectly, but to him, it won’t be the one. I feel this may come across more in video and I hate to compare things to skateboarding or other industries, but when a top pro goes to a spot in a different culture, they spend a day there, doing the same process, making sure the trick is done and done right, from the way they approach to the cruise away and it’s why shit looks proper. I believe there’s a lot of subtleties in blading that the majority of people dismiss and it’s these actions that are key to making us look more appealing to not only ourselves but to the outside eye. A lot of this is down to how things are filmed but also how the blader interacts with the camera whilst rolling and knows where to place themselves in the frame of the camera. I actually think about this shit way too much! Another is illusion tricks, it’s an approach that makes a trick look so much better, there’s something about it and the way the body has to move that I even believe a none blader would notice it looked different and harder.
Other notable bladers would be Fish, Billy is just so fucking good at doing the biggest things and not making it a big deal. Hooi is always a treat, just a robot with so much natural talent. I enjoy shooting with everyone, all those names I mentioned in the previous question, they’ve all been favourites to be honest.

Jochen Smuda

What would be the scariest trick you ever shot?
Gaps man, I hate shooting gaps, they scare the hell out of me. It’s just all or nothing, you are basically flying, it’s actually another trick that seem to have died out a bit.
I think the more I shot, the less hammer’y my blading photos became. There’s been plenty of hospital visits but during the actual shooting process I’m always confident the person 100% has the trick.
There’s been some amusing but scary times. I remember around July 2002 in San Diego, Oli was trying some disaster trick and he missed the rail and smacked his head, off to the hospital we went, along the way he would say “my name’s Oli Short, my mum’s Liz Short, I’m from New Malden I was born in February 1983, see guys I’m ok!” then do a round of high fives to everyone in the van, 2 minutes later… “My name’s Oli Short, my mum’s Liz Short, I’m from New Malden I was born in February 1983, see guys I’m ok!” and this just kept going on and on, so after a while, lads being lads we started fucking with him a little but in good humour, basically his short term memory was done and the doctors said it could last anything from a few weeks to 6 years!

What would be the best blading photo ever taken in your opinion?
Wow, that’s a tough question. If I was back in the UK I would start rummaging through my back catalog of magazines. I think the DL ao fish in the ditches by Jess D is pretty damn iconic. The Nick Riggle glory hole DB cover! That’s a special one with all those flames, good job Busta on that. The Erik Burke air in Rejects with the mountains in the background, vibing Ansel Adams on that one.
I actually had an idea a while ago that would make the sickest article. If you could pick the top 5-10 iconic blading photos and relive them in present day. Example, go back to the dana point ditch that Latimer ao fish’s, find the kid who’s at the side ( I heard a rumour it was Brooke Howard-Smith‘s nephew or something?), get him to pose there, get Jess D to shoot it and obviously get DL to work his magic. I think it would be so amazing, very hard, but good stuff.

That sounds like an awesome but pretty hard to work on article! And what’s your personal favorite photo you’ve taken yourself?
I’ve always really liked the air I did of Oli in a bowl in Lisbon. Party because it was the first time using a fisheye on a 6×6 and I had always wanted to, as I mentioned before the ratio of that just makes blading look incredible.
I’d like to think I still have a LONG future shooting photos though, there’s a lot more I’d like to do and try out be it camera gear as it’s improved a lot in terms of the flashes since back when I started and setting up great spots. I mean hopefully one day we can get to a point where we can gain access to grander looking spaces. Granted we can keep it OG and hit and run stuff but if you have time, you could really light up and shoot some amazing stuff, I’m thinking along the lines of Sydney opera house, be given the access to light up the whole thing and shoot the kink rail out front or airports and shooting the drop rail out the side of a plane at sunset maybe with another plane taking off in the background, or shipping yards and gapping the skips etc.

Mattheiu Heinneman, fishbrain, paris, 2005
Mathieu Heinemann

You worked as a team manager for the Conference in the UK for a while. What was your job like and could you see yourself doing something like that again?
I was actually the sales rep. So I essentially liased with the shops making sure everything was good, our gear was stocked and take re orders whenever needed. So I never did distribution, everything was still held in Germany and I was just the middleman. The team manager thing I took on myself. With that it was building a team, trying to get gear for everyone and get them on trips and whenever possible gathering content, photo or video.
It was a great few years, as I had already established myself in the UK through photography, I knew the majority of the shops and the people who worked there, so I was able to get us some good orders, re align us up with some big stores who weren’t working with us however in the end I did end up getting fired. I found it to be unfair, in the UK extreme sports in general were declining so sales were falling so one day I had an email just stating I was no longer working for them, pretty cut throat. I understand as they are a business and if sales aren’t good they have to act. I did end up having to take legal action.
Although I had an amazing 4 years, in hindsight, it’s 4 years that I could have been growing my photography. But, you do what you do at the time and there’s a reason for it.
Another thing I really noticed as well and I had been warned of this from previous people that held the job or just from skaters heavily involved in our industry. I really started to dislike various parts of blading, I even began to get annoyed if I saw people wearing other brands, it’s so stupid but I guess the business mind just starts to take over. I also started to notice that friends from all over thought I was solely a photographer for the Conference, that REALLY annoyed me. Luckily a lot of my favourite skaters at the time bladed for them but I had always been a photographer for everyone and what I was doing at the Conference was sales, so my photography was separate but I just started getting pigeonholed.
Life now definitely feels free’er again, I couldn’t care less what skates you had, I have brands I like and feel represent blading properly but my mind is clear of any judgment these days.

It’s interesting times in blading right now, what’s your opinion on the critical state of our industry these days?
Being in Australia you definitely feel out of touch with everything and just being not so involved work wise. I actually don’t know where we are at right now, but I can imagine its tough times. Just looking at the views on videos is a sign.
It annoys me though, it’s been 20 years basically that I’ve been blading / shooting and I’m not the first generation, I’m maybe 3rd or 4th and STILL if you tell someone you blade they assume recreational. I’m baffled how that is the mind set of the general public and not to knock fitness blading, but looking at my friends, does it look like we are the kind of people that go down the promenade whack on our lycra and cruise? Also, the amount of people that walk past when I’m shooting a trick and are so impressed and rightly so they should be, “what you all do on blades is fucking magic“, how can they carry on and not mention to anyone what they saw. See, even that in itself is quite key, just street skating, just being out in the street making blading look sick.
Obviously a lot more outdoor parks have been built over the last 10 years and that is another place, to sway peoples judgments and it’s a better space to allow randoms to try your skates on. I feel like I’ve mentioned this before, in a way I’m contradicting myself here but showing up at a skatepark with someone like Jeff Stockwell, Erik Bailey or CJ Wellsmore has got to be some of the proudest memories. Purely because you know they have the skill to shut the shit talkers up and it just makes you feel proud. Maybe I’m quite sad in feeling this way, but it’s just the amount of shit we take as a culture is frustrating, so knowing when these guys drop in everyone stop doing what they are doing and take notice is a great feat.

chris farmer,launch to soul to switch soul down post,mcr
Chris Farmer

I was also thinking this past week about the On a Roll game and how that could be a big thing. Obviously anything like this comes along we all get our hopes up but I realised whenever I bump into an old friend who used to blade or a person chats to me when I’m taking a photo and mentioned they used to blade it’s always the same outcome, how much they miss it! How much they wish they could blade more but due to whatever reasons they can’t. Well, On a Roll can tap into our old thriving market, all those ex bladers that still pay an interest but don’t physically skate. If you could get all those folk buying it, it could become massive and in turn open the game up to a wider audience just from a sales perspective, it would allow the creators to get it stocked in gaming shops etc. Tony Hawk‘s was huge, I partly think it’s one of the reasons boarding got so huge.
I’ve also thought clothing was a big thing. Same scenario, for people who don’t physically skate but are still proud of it and like it, if we had more decent clothing brands: it’s something that can cross over very easily. Everyone wear clothes and if you rock some nice stuff, you’re gonna get people asking you what it is and potentially buying it, it happens to me loads (thanks Dirt Box!).

You are running your own website, The Booted, since a while now. What made you start your own project and what are your future plans with it?
The Booted came about from a bus ride home in London with an old friend who used to blade. I was doing some work for him and on our way home he was just saying what he thought blading needed and everything he said was so relevant. He’s worked in a lot of other industries and is just a smart guy and very on point with the world currently.
We actually haven’t really began on any of our grander ideas as we have needed to build the site up and get a following before we can approach the sort of businesses we want to work with.
The site essentially began as there was a lack of good media in blading, it was at the time that had stopped posting, Be-Mag weren’t doing much, One Mag seemed distant and very one sided, so it really only left Haitian that were creating great content and individual companies solely putting out content on their own sites and nowhere else. There needed to be more, just solid content that portrayed blading well.
There is a lot we would like to do and become a part of but given bladings size it’s hard, if we want to work on a project with someone then it has to be beneficial to them and cover any losses they would make from not giving it to their sponsor and now that VOD is so popular I guess it’s even harder.
We don’t tend to post a lot as we try and wait till we have something good but I see a good future for the Booted, we just need everyone to be down with it and keen to support. There are plans to start fooling around with alternative types of media, we are also working with one of the largest PR companies ‘Exposure’ to hold an exhibition for Dan Stirling, his artwork is out of this world, so it’s a great opportunity for him and us as a media outlet. Exposure work for the likes of eBay, Levi’s, Converse, Nike, Vans, Microsoft, Coke, Dr Martens and more, so keep an eye out for that and our other ventures.
Although like I mentioned at the beginning of this, you guys at Be-Mag are doing great things and really pushing the site well and the content is awesome, maybe I should just become a staff member for you again ey?

Thanks for the kind words. I guess you were always and will always be a Be-Mag staff member hah!. Do you plan on staying in Australia, or are you going to move back to the UK or elsewhere anytime soon?
Right now we are going back to the UK for the summer. My girlfriend has some work she has to do there and I have a few jobs on. It’s also the best time to visit home as there are lots of skate events on like NASS and a good chance to shoot with everyone and also see my parents.
After Vietnam we are going to Cambodia, Thailand and Hong Kong then finally the UK. We do plan on staying in Australia though. Life has a lovely balance in Sydney.

Leon Humphries, London - Location, Clapham
Leon Humphries

What projects are next, what’s planned for Adam Kola in 2015?
The rest of the year? Mmm, shoot blading as much as possible; try to create some rad imagery. Be really great to shoot with all the people that are potentially heading over to Europe this summer whilst I’m there, failing that, get your asses to Australia, it’s mega! I helped Ivan Narez shoot a bunch of stuff for his new project whilst he was in Australia, so I’m really keen to see how that comes out. He’s putting so much work into it and the whole thing is on 16mm for the moving images and 35mm/120mm for the stills, should be a keeper that’s for sure!
Work as much as possible in the commercial world to fund the blading stuff haha. Travel a lot and keep trying to live a happy life.

Thank you so much for taking the time doing this with us. Any shout outs?
Everyone I have ever shot, be it back in the day all the old school Manchester lot (MSC) to the international friends I have made. You’re all the best and I wish I could spend more time with you everyday creating memories.
My bird Danielle for being patient and understanding. Dating a blader / photographer can be stressful, we don’t keep time very well and drop any plans to go out and skate.
You guys for having me on board since day 1, it’s been a great time and hopefully plenty of more issues to come out in the future, keep embracing print, it’s history in your hands.
To all you bladers, keep shredding and making us look top. Tell all your friends and randoms you meet in the pub, embrace it and allow people to understand we are the rawest culture that’s cool as fuck.

billy, f torque, blackfriars, flattened
Billy O’Neill

Albert Hooi, Dublin - Location, Bristol
Albert Hooi

Alex Pym, Frontside Sess, Barcelona, 2004
Alex Pym

brian shima,parallel 540,rworx
Brian Shima

charles dunkle polaroid portrait
Charles Dunkle

oli,toe stall,new malden360
Oli Short

oli, bail
Oli Short

si cox, AOtop soy stall-Edit
Si Cox

Marc Moreno & Brandon Negrete

negative sifting
Adam is currently going through his archive, scanning photos for the second part of this feature.

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