Gordon Nicholas is a Massachusetts-born photographer living in Vancouver B.C. We first recognized his work in Color Magazine, where he worked as the photo editor for many years. Now, he is balancing his life between working on different creative projects, like, for example, furniture building, and working part-time as a postman. Gordon has the ability to immortalize perfect moments in between skate shots, as well as the skate shots themselves. He incorporates different elements of the road trips, incredible scenery, and all-around chaos of skateboarding culture into a minimalist presentational form. Because his work has had such a big influence on West Coast skateboarding culture, we wanted to share some of our favorite images he has taken (see gallery below) and ask him a couple questions about what he’s done throughout his career. The newest project he's working on is a small zine called Lemon that focuses on the concept of photographing cars. Also, if you are in Vancouver, keep an eye out for a solo show he is putting together at The Something Club gallery!
Check out this website for any Gordon Nicolas work and updates! http://gordonnicholas.com/
Having moved to Vancouver at a young age, do you feel that the West Coast city has impacted your work?
I moved to Vancouver when I was just turning 19, having moved here to study Forestry at BCIT. But I had started shooting during my grade school years which I feel drew me to the vastness and often bleakness of space in some of my work. But yes it has been my years in Vancouver that has had the most impact. It was here that I really started to shoot more skate photography and linked up with Sandro Grison at Color Magazine where I eventually worked as Photo Editor for several years.
How is your approach different from when you are doing skateboard photography vs. when you are in a studio?
I don’t think they are both different, my approach is basically approaching the location/subject, or spot/skater with as much pre-existing knowledge of them as I can and then just being there with my camera. I don’t like when things look manufactured. Shooting a portrait can be just as unpredictable as skateboarding if you allow for improvisation.
What drew you into skateboard photography? What kind of role has skateboarding played in your life?
Being a skateboarder. That, and finding my mothers old Nikkormat on some closet shelf and becoming amazed by the mechanics of it. Skateboarding itself has been huge, encompassing in fact. Its allowed me so many opportunities to travel and meet so many amazing people.
You are involved with quite a few locally owned businesses (Color Magazine, Anti-Social etc.), do you feel it’s important to support local and why?
I think supporting local in essence is important, I like the look and feel of neighbourhoods when they’re thriving. But I don’t think its necessarily the ‘locality’ of it that makes the difference for me. Instead its the approach and intimacy people put into their projects which I admire.
What shoot are you most proud of? What about this certain shoot sets it apart from your others?
When it comes to trips it would have to be when I took the Sitka crew up to Whitehorse, Yukon. Or when I drove across North America and back with the band Nu Sensae. Both were longer road trips, which is important to me as there’s a mental shift I find that happens when being on the road for a certain amount of time that can lead towards creativeness. I also got a chance to spend weeks on the road with my best pals exploring places I’d never been.
What place in Vancouver would you be super bummed about if it was destroyed?
If you could do a photo expedition anywhere in the world where would you go?
It would be an ever-lasting tour from continent to continent, pole to pole in whatever 4x4 would go the distance. Being on the road and experiencing new places is what inspires me most. I must say right now, however, I am being particularly drawn to Northern Canada and the Arctic Circle.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Just putting out a small zine called Lemon. Its a collection of photographs to do with cars. I’m also in the middle of putting together a solo show here in Vancouver at The Something Club gallery.