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In Focus: Alec McLeish

Closing our Nike SB x Polaroid Dunk Low ‘In Focus’ series is Alec McLeish. A born and bred London skater, Alec could often be found at Shell Centre or Southbank as a teenager in the mid 2000’s and didn't truly find his love for photography until he took classes in college once he had left school. It was here that he realised that shooting skateboarding in the classic sense didn't hold too much of an interest for him, but rather it was capturing the special moments in between that can often be overlooked or forgotten about that caught his attention. Alec’s keen eye has lead him to work with brands such as Supreme, Aries, Converse and Nike but he still takes the time to this day to shoot his own projects and grow his portfolio.  

In this final edition of In Focus, we take a look directly at Alec’s experiences at Southbank over the years. 


Portrait by Rosy Leadley-Watkins 

Felix. 2008

“When I got my first camera I wasn’t really sure who or what I wanted to shoot. I was really into Ed and Deanna Templeton, Jerry Hsu, Fred Mortagne and all those American street photographers. I was into the people and the story more than anything else. Flicking through Document or Sidewalk, I would always study the off-hand, more candid pictures which would accompany the tour articles. Keen to know who these faces were and what they were about. Guess that’s the nice thing about skating is you can be about 2ft from your heroes.

I met Felix at SB, excited with my first roll of film and just got him to stand there. Nothing more really. From then on I’d bring my camera every time I went skating and just shoot whatever we were up to.”  - AM

Jack Fussey and Croydan. 2012

“Dan is a bit older than me (sorry man!) and I remember when I first started skating down there he had a banging nollie flip, I met Jack slightly later, maybe even two years before this image. I guess this image doesn’t mean much if you don’t know them -  I always think of long hazy evenings by the wall. Smokes, drinks, maybe a bit of skating when it’s cooler." - AM

Shaun and his younger brother. 2018

“One thing I really love about SB, and skating in general is the mix of ages you get. I think I was the same age as Shaun is here when I shot the first one of Felix. What I find interesting is across the ages everyone is still doing the same thing; smoking, drinking, eating crap, fighting, flirting whatever. There was a big meet up during all the Save Southbank stuff and you had all these guys from back in the day, then a bunch of older heads from Palace and Slam, then all us younger lot, and then some even younger than us, all hanging out. The faces change but it’s the same deal. When you look at this photo next to the previous it’s pretty clear.” - AM

Luna. 2013

"Luna belonged to Nas, who was a bit older than us. He’d roll up to SB with Luna on a weird bike and was one of the soundest people I met there, everyone was to be fair. This picture for me describes what I wanted to try and do with my pictures. Not just record people skating, or portraits or hanging about, but the scene itself. Everyone sitting together and just being there and skating." - AM

Mark G and friend. 2012

"I was a little further down the river, being a dork and looking at photo-books in the Tate bookshop. I Looked up and saw Mark Gonzales over by the thick art mags. I didn’t really know what to do, so naturally pretended it wasn’t happening. We left at the same time and I went up to him and said “Hi, I’m Alec can I take your picture” He was so sound and he was with his pal and was like “cool what shall I do” - “Just stand there” I said, fumbling with my Nikon. He hoisted his friend up onto his shoulders and then started bombing up and down on his board! I got a few pictures of that but then he pulled up and I shot this. We swapped emails and I was so stoked. I went home and mixed up fresh dev and here we go. I sent Mark the scans and we mailed a bit talking about nothing in particular, it was just cool to talk to someone so open minded, and who gave some random kid the time of day. No one does that really. I recently read this article with Toby Shaull where he spoke about meeting Mark, and I remember feeling the same kind of like ‘I have to keep doing what I’m doing’ feeling from our interaction. In a nice cyclical way, both meetings resulted in a similar image." - AM

You can view all of Alec's recent projects and work here.