These are just a few of the names that the man behind the beard goes by. Most people know him for his ability to sleep anywhere, lack of patience, skills on a barbecue, obscene amount of nicknames and incredible talent behind a camera. What a lot of people don’t know is how good he is at explaining skate tricks with his hands when drunk. Its like poetry in motion, when the music is pumping he has been mistaken for an interpretive dancer. Before people were doing grind spin grind, Adam was doing them with his hands in pubs and clubs all over the world, and only now is he getting the recognition he deserves for it.
– ‘Big Al’ Morris
My name’s Adam Kola, 27 this week, born and raised in Manchester England but now residing in Brighton.
What have you been up to lately?
I moved down south to Brighton last June but this past fortnight i have been moving into a new home. I was living with Oli Short actually but i can’t keep up with his all night music jams, needed somewhere a tad quieter. So i’ve traded Oli for a nice balcony with sea views. Asides from that the usual, taking photos whenever possible, the weather is finally brightening up so it’s a little easier now. I have also been doing a spot of filming since i upgraded from the old 5D to the canon 5D Mark2, i always used to enjoy filming skating but Joe Coyne the editor of Kingdom mag works for a production company and he got me a job filming the trailer for the upcoming Brighton Festival, this may not sound too exciting but when the curator and interviewee is Brian Eno it rapidly became appealing! Then i think unknown to alot of people i’m actually the UK sales agent for the conference / powerslide, so that fills up my time quite nicely, sorting out orders and making sure shops are stocking the good stuff!
Still jetting around the world? What destinations did you hit recently? Which ones did you like best and why?
The past 6 months have been quite dorment to be honest, it’s pretty depressing. I did Winterclash obviously then my last trip before that was Cali for the WRS finals which was in November. I can’t complain though, as the last 2 years have been incredible. Hit up Spain more times than i care to remember now, france, germany, then the states i think 3 times, Tokyo, Sydney. The most surprising trip would have to of been Sydney for sure! My brother moved there and so my parents were visiting him and doing a world trip at the same time and really wanted me to meet up so we could be together. I was currently in LA but booked a last minute trip the day i landed back into Manchester and surprised everyone. It was so far from my pre conceived perceptions it was untrue. My friend Dom West from the UK had just moved into a house which is now the infamous ‘vine st’, so it made hanging out with awesome people alot easier, be-mags favorite Richie Eisler was also there whom i’ve known for years after shooting together for his Be-mag interview around 2002 time, then there was also a Valo tour going on and they were staying on the same road as my bro’s house, so everything just linked perfectly.
Tell us a little bit about the English scene.
The UK has always had a strong scene i feel, ever since i was a kid i would always see other skaters stroll past. Granted the last 5 years or so has been a little bit quieter but compared to many other places i have visited it’s still very healthy. Loads of events, DVD’s being produced as well as daily online edits from enthusiasts all over. Almost everytime i go out shooting photos now someone will go out of their way to applaud what we are doing, so its generally well accepted here. It’s like the rest of the world i guess, the average age of a skater is growing so we are maturing and slowly taking control of what happens and needs to happen. Take BHC for example, run completely by skaters (Mark Trebble and Paul Hardwick) and it’s become a world wide recognized brand now with a strong international team. Another example would be the Chaz invite and Rampworx skatepark, not many places are getting 1 hour slots on mainstream TV stations or doing skate clinics at local schools. So although we are becoming old codgers it’s opening up possibilities for longevity within our culture and ultimately keeping our scene alive.
Also being on the sales side of things now it helps to see how skating is developing and what areas are really pushing and getting it out to the masses. My only complaint would be the attitude of alot of skaters these days, it used to be if you saw someone with a skate branded garment you would rush over to speak to them and instantly become friends, i find this is slowly getting lost.
Who’s hot at the moment?
Right now we still have our all time favorites shredding hard like Albert Hooi and Leon Humphries, then hometown wonder Lomax is making a huge name for himself now too. The next in line though whom is a pleasure to watch skate is Alex Burston, again from Manchester and just skates flawlessly with style likened to Fredericks. Others who i feel are getting a nice buzz around them would have to be Joe Atkinson, Eliott Stevens and Danny Ives, the futures bright with these lads.
The UK has seen several mags come and go, can you tell us a bit about these and your role?
Britain has had its fair share of magazines thats for sure. With regards to aggressive skating though it started with In-Line skatermag who did a pull out magazine which was called ‘Unity’, the people behind this were limited with what they wanted to do and so they left and created DNA. Both of which were the magazines i didn’t put down as a kid, still to this day i believe DNA was the best skate mag to be made. It was so well produced that you can look at an issue now and it still exceeds many publications now, design and photographically.
It wasn’t until many years later that i started to have a role with the UK mags. DNA sadly died but Unity was still going, so they were my first port of call when i was getting into photography. That carried on for a few years and it allowed me to travel alot, meet many many people and just get my name out there. We also had Freenation, which was Andy Critchlow’s magazine, that has sadly deceased now. I never really gave too much input as i was more a freelance photographer, so it would be more a case of suggesting who i thought deserved to be featured, or if i had any random shots that i’d taken that came out nice i would submit them too. It’s quite crazy to think of the process you would go through back then with submitting photos, shooting, developing, mounting and labelling the slides, posting them in, so so long!
What about Kingdom Magazine?
Kingdom is still going, but it’s unfortunately just the site at the moment. We initially did a PDF issue to see how it would be received, and received well it was, so we went straight into print and did a run of 4 issues. I think it was alot more work than the 3 of us (myself, Joe Coyne and Oli Short) had anticipated but it needed doing. The UK has always had a magazine holding it together, and being a photographer its quite a key interest of mine, just holding a magazine feels great and seeing the photos etc. However raising the funds to do this was very hard, especially as the financial state of the world went into crap, so businesses were having to cut all costs, and unfortunately print advertising was one of them, especially when the internet plays such a large role nowadays and can hit up double the amount of people. It was also hard running the magazine for nothing in return, the satisfaction factor was high but after a while there’s only so much you can do out of your own pocket, even more so being the main photographer as you have equipment to maintain, petrol to get to places etc etc.
Right now we still plan on creating something in the near future which will be in print, as well as running events such as NASS and doing our parties which always go down a treat.
It is a shame though as we had some awesome features in the issues that we did put out and i always get asked whenever i’m abroad or from UK shops when is the next issue out or what’s going on with it…….so we must of made some impression!
Favourite non skating photographer?
I really don’t have one, i’ve never really looked into other photographers. I love magazines and going into good magazine shops, but if i see a nice photo i never really look at who took it. It’s quite bizarre. Maybe it’s something i enjoy and just do for myself, i really don’t know. I probably couldn’t even list 5 photographers right now. I just have images in my head of how i think shit should look and that’s what i try to go for. On a side note, i did just see some of Ryan Schude’s new work and thats bloody brill! Also on a side side note i just got back from a live Chris Cunningham show, he’s more moving images but my god, that was some intense stuff, definitely advise anyone to go see that in future if you ever have the chance!
Favourite skating photographer?
Again not too sure, i really like Wes Driver’s photos, they are always very dramatic looking and great depth to them. Jeremy Stephenson is another one, i honestly don’t know how he does it, he’s knocking out so many photos and basically keeping the print media alive with the sheer volume of his submissions, he’s also in more countries a week than anyone alive, he has so much passion it’s very admirable….or he’s got his Saddam Hussein on and got a fair few look-alikes doing the jobs for him.
Anything else you want to say?
Thanks to you guys for still being a source for print material within the blading world, it’s a huge attribution to us all! Thanks also for supporting my photography since issue 1. Thanks to all my mates who i grew up skating with and still skate with now from Manchester, without them i wouldn’t have known how to take a skate photo. To everyone else keep skating, have all the fun you can get out of it, make it look so top and exciting that you inspire others to join you, ignore any hate you get it’s just jealousy. Budding photographers, shoot what looks good in your eyes and how you personally envision the scene to be. Shameless plugs, buy conference branded skates they are awesome, buy dirt box clothing www.dirt-box.com it will give you alot of swagger when pulling them birds, check out www.kingdom-mag.co.uk for the latest with what’s going on with British rolling and check out my site if you are at all interested in what’s going on with me www.adamkola.com & www.adamkola.com/blog.