Dale Travers has been photographing skating since 1996 and has been travelling all over the world to shoot his photos. He is currently living in Brisbane, Australia, but has spent time living in London, and has seen large portions of Europe and the United States. He is currently working on improving his skill by working for a big commercial photography company, and meanwhile still has time to work on his personal projects.
Interview by Bruce James Bales
Photography by Dale Travers
1. Dale, thank you for taking some time out to speak with Be-mag. Introduce yourself as you see fit.
My name is Dale Travers, I've been rolling since 94'. I picked up a camera around 96' and I've been shooting photos ever since. I live in Brisbane, Australia. I've spent time living in London and traveling around Europe and America. I returned to Aus in 09’ and I've spent every waking hour pushing my photography, developing my skills and building my photography business. Aside from working for myself I also started assisting for a large more experienced commercial photographic company assisting for around 2 years and now I'm involved in all aspects from pre-production to photographing projects and post production. We shoot commercial, advertising, corporate, lifestyle and industrial commercial photography called Fullframe Photographics, www.fullframe.com.au
This was a part of a full day shoot for a lifestyle campaign for a new apartment building. This situation was showing our model enjoying a local restaurant with the intent on chatting to a friend across the table.
2. Was it blading that first got you interested in photography?
Yes, back in the day when grinding started we all thought it was pretty cool and then we moved onto rails. My dad handed me old camera and said" you better start capturing some of the crazy stunts you do" so not knowing anything about photography, a game of trail and error began. I started saving and acquiring more equipment for learning the art of telling out story in an image so hopefully one day I would get an image published in the magazines like yours.
Brandon Mateer, Fakie to TTS, Kansas City, USA
3. What was it about blading photography that interested you the most, and how do you approach capturing blading through photography?
I love that I could record the crazy stunts that my friends were doing so basically we had proof. I found it very hard to explain to the outside world where we went and what we did for hours on and every weekend. We didn't have youtube or even internet on our phones those days so I had to explain through photos. As our sport grew I found Daily Bread and then later Be-Mag at the skateshop with the guys doing crazier stuff than I'd ever seen before and damn that was exciting! More importantly I'd also look at the little name in corner of the photo so as most people started to idolize the skaters as I did, I also wanted to know the story behind the photo and how these images made it the pages I was reading.
Jamie Stenner, Huge wallride, 2am, Waterloo, London
As my photography and skills developed over the years I started documenting skate tours and developing stories. Traveling and meeting new skaters from all over the world was also a huge draw card for me. Capturing blading usually starts with a location scout and this usually happens on a daily basis when we are out shooting something else and I’m sure most skaters out there can relate to this. My brain is constantly wired to looking for new spots and things to skate. After some negotiation with the right skater to match the spot we head out and while he is warming up I am also warming up by tuning my brain into the spot, looking for angles that will make the trick look its best and then setting up my lighting to tell the story of the trick from take-off, to peak of the action to the landing. After a few minor tweaks, both me and skater hit out peaks with our talents and then we walk away with that perfect photo we both went there for. I’m sure a lot of skaters can relate to having an off day, it’s the same with skating photography. Equipment only helps you but at the end of the day, it’s the talent behind the equipment that will get that printable shot.
Fabrice, Wallride in a back alley, Paris, France
4. As a photographer, you have traveled all over Europe and America. What destination or project inspired you the most?
Our ‘Europless Tour’ in 08' was great. I was working in London at the time and my friend Julian Coulter wanted to drive around Europe. It only got a double page spread in Be-Mag at the time but we had online blog on Be-Mag.com and as I was taking so many photos, it was fairly intense. 40 days traveling on the road and skating around Europe was just amazing, shooting in new spots and every day really hones your skills. Your set-up time begin to shrink, your photos get better and everything just clicks faster on a shoot. Another highlight was working with pro's in the states. It was a real pleasure shooting with skaters that brought a real professionalism and production value to a shoot like working with Brian Aragon in Liverpool for 5 days at Rampworx. Really professional, really on point with tricks and always skating at such a high level. Also the Santee boys, Damien planned his spots and tricks for days we were, we went out and got the job done. I found all my time I have spent shooting had led up to this trip. All the tricks I had photographed, all the places I had traveled to really all came together with my American trip because when your working with pro’s, missing the shot is not really an option. They put their body on the line several times to perfect their trick, you better not fuck it up.
Damien Wilson, San Diego, USA
5. Now that you are well established, what is your favorite type of photography?
I guess you can say that by now I'm well established in the skating world with magazines excepting my photos but in the commercial world I'm relatively new to working as a professional so right now, every shoot is very stressful and very enjoyable all at the same time. Before I worked full time I used to recruit lots of sports people to shoot as I love their dedication to what they do and it really comes across in the photography so I did enjoy this the most. Taking on a huge campaign for a sports brand would be amazing. Shooting urban runners in the New Zealand mountains from a chopper would be ultimate I guess. Taking a brand and tailoring a photography package to meet their marketing needs and then spending a few weeks shooting all aspects of that package in remote locations is the ultimate but being in Australia, that's really not going to happen. We just aren't supplied with the budgets and resources. It's a very different market than the US as we see videos like this come out all the time but if we keep shooting at the highest level we can, more advertising agencies will stand up and take notice and thats when the big budgets come in.
Last year i photographed a catalogue for Dri Rider motor bike products. This shot was all photographed in my garage studio. It was raining the day we had scheduled for the shoot and it couldn't be postponed due to Kawasaki who only lending them these bikes for one day. All bikes and riders photographed separately and composted in photoshop for the back cover.
6. Do you still go out and snap blading photos from time to time? Are there certain things that need to happen for you to shoot blading? Have you developed criteria for shooting action sports photographs?
Skating photos? I'd love to but it's hard to spend so much time dedicated to something that doesn't pay anything. Don't get me wrong, I love skating and love photographing skating but I do hold my standards of photography very high these days and I have to know that it's a trick I really want to shoot or a spot I've been eyeing off. This may sound arrogant to the your younger readers but I’m 34 now. Not many 34 year olds stay out till 11pm during the week shooting skating when they’ve worked 12 hours that day or spend all weekend driving around to skate spots to walk away with maybe one photo or 2 that may not get printed. At 34 I should have my career sorted, a house and looking towards making a family. Not out skating till the early hours of the morning.
Sam Bradley, Alley-oop topporn, Brisbane, Aus
I am actually using all my skating knowledge I have and directing it into scooters. I know there might be a lot of critiques out there in the skating world and a lot of haters due to the amount of kids at skate parks but right now scooters are making me a decent amount of revenue and more and more magazines are popping up around the world and with my experience I am capitalizing on this. The sport is really new so kids can't afford set-ups and they don't have the knowledge to capture the sport but the magazines are still being produced so I'm actually being chased by 4 magazines for content. As a photographer, you must use your knowledge and equipment and create revenue for yourself in many fields. If you don't have clients in many areas, your not going to be able maintain a successful business and keep the money coming in. It’s great working with kids again who have that passion and drive to do crazy shit. I know every skate spot in a 200kms radius of our city, it’s like shooting skating again when we were young but this time I get paid for it.
Ryan Williams, Gap over rail, Brisbane, Aus
7. What projects are you working on now? How are you staying busy behind the lens?
Right now I work full time for Fullframe Photographics. One of the top commercial photographers in our city. Their standards are so high and their work so diverse I'm working everyday on learning and being a real professional. One day I am shooting on a construction site or underground in a tunnel, the next in an office with lawyers chatting to each other. All the while learning how to shoot them to the highest quality possible. As I mentioned before, I’m spending what spare time I have left shooting for scooter magazines and shooting adverts for scooter companies of their team riders.
Home studio photographing a road bike
Cleaning the tiles around the pool before photographing it
8. What is the next step for Dale Travers the professional photographer?
Working full time for this company for a long time hopefully. There's nothing better than learning your trade than doing it everyday for a long time. There's a lot of photographers out there but not many professionals with the experience and knowledge to make this a career. Just like a professional rollerblader, you spend a long time perfecting your talent so when you do start being paid for it, you can fly half way around the world and land those tricks and win that competition that your getting paid for. You can pull something out of your bag of tricks that will get you over the line. Photography is the same way, clients employ you on your work but if you can’t deliver under the extreme conditions they give you on the day of the shoot with them over your shoulder checking your every move, you will loose that client. There are no second chances so experience is the only thing you have to fall back on.
I was asked to photograph the cheerleaders of our biggest football team in my city the Brisbane Broncos, white studio back ground
9. If you had to tell someone, as I’m sure you have, your photography mission statement, what would it read like?
Being a full time professional takes a hell of a lot of work just to get your foot in the door, staying there and producing high quality work on a daily basis can take even more work just to stay employed. I take pride in working my ass off and trying to be the best I can be everyday at work. We take pride on our work and we stand by it.
Surfer lifestyle shoot
10. Lastly, what about photography as a whole has kept you interested for so long? How has your evolution as an artist and professional elevated your motivation?
Everyday is a knew challenge and every project is interesting. Over the past month I assisted while we photographed a huge advertising campaigns on ferry's, buses and trains, we flew to Alice springs for a 3 day shoot, covered various media events and was involved in pre production meetings chatting about shooting aerials from a chopper. I guess that's what's keep me interested.
Here I am assisting on a commercial shoot for our largest transit system. Im holding a Profoto Beauty dish to light our models while the photographer get the right expressions
Right now in my career my artistic side has not really featured much in my work. When I was freelance, I didn't have anyone criticizing my work as most people do but now I'm working for a really experienced team. I have been shown my faults so I am holding off on my creativity till I bring my level up to standard then hopefully my creativity will start to flow. Like any new job, learn everything you can then use what you've learnt to bend the rules and bring yourself to a new level with your own style and personality. I am in an amazing position to learn from true creative professionals, I never take that for granted and hopefully it will be build my skill set to last the rest of my life.
One of our lighting set-ups for many corporate portraits we do each week, 6 light set-up
11. Thank you for speaking with me, Dale. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Please take your time to thank anyone you would like to. Cheers.
I’d like thank all the skaters who I have contacted for a shoot over the many years and continents I have traveled. Every shoot gave me another chance to enter into your life and hear your story and that was a great pleasure. Photography has allowed me to enter your home, spend some great time bonding with you and working with you. Rollerbladers are an amazing community and should never be taken for granted. I’d urge everyone to leave your town/city and go traveling and experience the wonderful world we live in and the great people who live in it.
I’ve made so many life long friends doing this and they have given me the chance to capture their skating at its peak in their life. I know as the years go on and those skaters grow older, I hope they contact me for a copy of the the photo we shot back when they were at the top of their game so they can show their kids.
Every shoot was another step closer to my career and my commercial career has just begun. Please enjoy checking out my photos at my website at www.daletravers.com. Also the company I work for www.fullframe.com.au. I also update my blog when I can at www.daletravers.com/blog.
Thanks very much for reading.
Chad Hornish, Interview for Be-mag, Arizona, USA
Brian Aragon, Invert on vert wall, Rampworx, Liverpool
Josh Glowicki, 1am Sweatance, Texas border
Rob, Fishbrain, Kent, England
Julian Coulter, Fishbrain, Brisbane, Aus
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