In Focus: Jenna Selby
Our Nike SB x Polaroid Dunk Low celebrations continue with In Focus, a three part feature series documenting some of our favourite photographers who have curated and discussed five of their favourite shots from over the years which embody the spirit of this collaboration and the intrinsic link between skater and photographer.
First up is Hertfordshire native Jenna Selby. Cutting her teeth at Southbank in the late 90's, Jenna's career has spanned over two decades and she is known for capturing the rise of the UK female scene as well as being a sponsored skater herself for Gallaz and Carhartt. With an extensive back catalogue featured in UK & European skate magazines, Jenna was the perfect first stop in our three part feature.
Claire Alleaume - Heelflip, Flaxmill Maltings Shrewsbury 2019
"A curator from Falmouth Art Gallery contacted me to say that they were putting on an exhibition called Sidewalk Surfer and they wanted to use some of my images for it. I love any excuse to jump in the car and drive around the country to take photos. I chatted with Claire, who at the time was based in Shrewsbury, and she mentioned a disused factory near her which visually looked really interesting. I arranged to meet with about six riders around the UK over two days, Claire was the last one on day one. When I arrived we had a look around the factory, it was in this particular room that the light was really striking and instantly it felt more important to capture her interaction with the environment than focus on the trick itself. Sometimes it's not all about capturing the biggest trick, sometimes it's just about documenting a skater using the given space in their own individual way. Claire sessioned the spot for about an hour so I could just shoot away unnoticed whilst she was absorbed and lost in the moment. It was this picture of the heelflip that I felt captured that moment and it has always stood out for me.
Helena Long - Failed attempt at ollie over rail, Hackney 2017. Shot for Yeah Girl exhibition in Copenhagen
"Helena is probably one of the most positive skaters I have worked with. She will seek out and skate some pretty quality challenging and grim street spots but she will always skate them well in her own unique style. At this spot, a housing estate in Hackney, she was attempting to ollie over the rail at the side of a four set. A couple of slams later and she did it.
Lucy Adams - Front Nose, Crawley 2018. Shot for OHSO Magazine
"Lucy Adams is a name that everyone knows in the skateboarding world. She has worked tirelessly to promote female skateboarding. We first met at the very first Girl Skate Jam at what was Playstation (now Bay66) in 2002 and then went on to ride for Gallaz together. I started photographing her whilst we were riding for the team. We were obviously not the first female skaters in the UK but we were both around when companies started taking an interest and giving female skaters exposure in the early 2000's. After that fleeting interest waned we both felt it incredibly important to continue promoting, supporting, documenting and capturing the female scene, especially at a time when no one else was doing it. The bigger mags back then argued that they wouldn't cover female riders (apart from a very very select few) because they weren't good enough. But it should never have been about comparing ability between men and women in that way. It was noticeable that when most female riders hit their teens they would disappear from the skateboarding world as the role models for them just weren't there. That's what probably drove us and why we both wanted to support and help change attitudes within the scene in our own ways. By working together on various projects it meant that we had a stronger voice.
Over the years Lucy and I have shot many images together and worked on several filming projects. She is always a pleasure to work with, however she has a slight obsession with a fisheye lens - the wider the better apparently!! Sometimes you have to coax her by promising you'll shoot a fisheye if you can get a long shot in there too. The good thing about working with Lucy though, is that you know you'll always get the end result. She will literally keep going until she's happy, a photographer's dream!
On this occasion we were shooting a series of images for an article about her for a new American magazine and had a very short window to get it done in. It was pretty much Challenge Anneka. Over a six hour period we went to five different locations with Lucy carting around a range of outfits to change into at each. This particular image was shot towards the end of the day and for me everything just fell into place with it. It was lit by both external flashes and Lucy's car headlights so she could see the run up. In this case the fisheye worked perfectly! It's still one of my favourite shots that I've ever taken." - JS
Mitch Long - Bluntslide, near St Albans 2010
"A producer once questioned what my 'commercial' purpose was behind making skate films. I said there wasn't one, I just wanted to do it. He didn't get it. It is the same for photography, this shot wasn't taken for any particular purpose, there was just something in me that felt the need to get a photo at this spot.
Part of the reason I love skating and taking photographs of it is because of all the interwoven friendships you make along the way. Shots like this one are the result of these random, possibly coincidental meetings. In 2010 I travelled around Australia. When I arrived in Perth I stayed with a friend, Rob, who I knew from skating days back when I was at uni in Newport. On my last day in the city I went out with him and a couple of his mates, one of them being Mitch Long. That night I was to catch a flight to Melbourne and as coincidence would have it Mitch was also on the flight as he was heading home. We chatted so much across the aisle that another passenger swapped seats so that we could sit together and they could get some sleep. I ended up staying on Mitch's sofa for a few weeks in Melbourne and later the same year he arrived for a two year stay in London.
I worked at Pioneer skatepark in St Albans for about fifteen years. My journey to and from the park would take me past this spot five nights a week. The surface was pretty diabolical, but the lines just drew me in and I knew I had to persuade some unsuspecting person they'd like to get a photo here. Not long after Mitch had arrived in the UK I chatted to him about the spot. He knew that there wasn't a purpose behind getting a shot but was keen to skate the ledge anyway. He liked the challenge of the crap floor and I got my photo because of it." - JS
Rodney Clarke - Crook, Croxley Green Business Park 2004. Shot for Freestyle Magazine.
"I started taking photos of friends skating down at Southbank around 1997. At the time I was shooting with just a Pentax body and a standard 50mm lens. Although I loved taking skate shots and documenting the scene, technically I didn't really have much of an idea about what I was doing.
I went on to do a degree in Photographic Arts at uni, and towards the end of it in 2002 I was fortunate to get sponsored by Gallaz. Although I loved being part of the team, I wasn't comfortable with competing. As well as riding for Gallaz, I interned at their offices. The team manager Emma Wilkinson was really supportive and instead of insisting on me going to events, she used her contacts to help me start my skate photography journey (I have much to thank her for!). She introduced me to skate photographer Richie Hopson who spent some time talking me through the much needed equipment list at that time.
Armed with my new-second hand Canon T90, 15mm fisheye lens and Metz 45 I started shooting as much as I could, learning as I went along and studying skate magazines closely. Emma then introduced me to the editor of a new skate magazine that had just started up called Freestyle. This picture of Rodney was my very first commission and my first to appear in print. Because of this shot I went on to shoot for subsequent editions of the mag. My lasting memory of the shoot itself is of my friend Alice standing in the bushes holding the flash for me, I went on to buy a tripod after that!" - JS