Craig Dodds is from a small town in Northern Ireland that I’ll not be surprised you haven’t heard of called Banbridge. He is 24 years old skateboarder who always have camera in tattered backpack.
Photography for me came about through my love of skateboarding with my friends at a young age and the opportunity it gave me to travel all over the country to do it. I never consciously made a decision when I was younger that I wanted to be a photographer but I would always have my camera in my tattered backpack when I would travel up to Newcastle almost every weekend to skate. I suppose I just felt obligated at the time to document what they were doing on their skateboards as no-one else really was and because I felt it could look cool.
I think I embedded myself so much in shooting skating it took me quite sometime until I felt comfortable enough to branch out and begin shooting different things. I just wanted to try shoot that perfect skate photo at whatever the cost and I suppose still am to this day.
What was always an inspiration for me was looking at skate magazines from an early age and being utterly captivated by the almost other worldly pictures photographers would create in those pages through off camera flashes and surreal locations.
I had little to no understanding at the time to how such a thing could be done and was more into shooting with my friends and having fun never thinking in a million years I would have my own photos reside in the pages I grew up worshipping and loving and it thankfully still remains as fun as ever.
What eventually made me want to start diversifying my photography came mostly from skateboard magazines aswell. When I got older and stopped focusing so much on the photos as I was never much a fan of reading for some years. I later discovered my favourite articles would be the ones of expeditions to different countries. Depending on the photographer they would usually be jam packed with artsy shots and candid photography from the different cities and locations they visited.
I began experimenting with this shooting my friends at first when they weren’t paying attention. Once I felt I was happy enough with what I was producing I decided it was time to take the terrifying leap into street photography. I wanted it to be as raw as possible so I began using my uncles old Canon FX 35mm camera my granny was kind enough to lend to me, without his knowing… Getting the first couple rolls back was disappointing as I found my nerves got the better of me a lot of the time as I was always too far away from the action for it to be of any importance.
I started to notice more being a skateboarder in the vast space of casual insanity that makes up any city you tend to attract a lot of attention from a whole range of people. Mostly from curiosity it can come from the kindest of folk to the most inconsiderate. I learned to jump on these oppurinties when they presented themselves either through being subtle or asking as politely as possible. This would make my day to day candid photos on my own excursions so much easier when something would present itself while cruising round the city on my skateboard to get myself as close as possible.
The idea for this project came naturally once I had built up an abundance of photos I had shot around Belfast using various film cameras ranging from point and shoots like my Olympus MJU 1 for those short lived moments so I didn’t have to worry about settings as those opportunities can pass you by in a blink of an eye, to SLRs like my Petri GX-1 my friend kindly hooked me up with for when I have a bit more time to concentrate and get what I need from the subject.
The photos here are shot using 35mm Ilford black and white or the odd Kodak colour film here and there. I had no real set plan until I felt comfortable enough to share what I shot and eventually decided to go about creating my first zine I called “Municipality” documenting the strange and beautiful people we as skateboarders encounter on our daily business.
Appreciate your time for anyone who has made it this far, I hope you enjoyed my photos and that they might have maybe sparked your imagination for something you’ve wanted to do.
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