Alysha has dedicated herself to capturing rad images of fast skateboarders. She’s done it even when she had no home and no camera. Her heart is full of love, her photos are full of stoke. Also… Bacon
Where are you from?
I am from the Sunshine Coast, British Columbia, Canada.
Fun place to grow up?
It is very beautiful. It has a small town attitude even in the city, always running into people you know. I would find it hard to move.
When did you start skating?
If we’re completely honest, I skated a little like 3 years ago, (2010) haven’t skated much since I broke my wrist. So I’m not going to be a poser and say I’m a skater. I skate, but I’m a photographer.
Is your wrist okay now?
Not really haha. I broke it thrice now. No cast, so it won’t heal properly ever. Oh well right?
Permanent steeze wrist!
Haha basically I suppose.
What got you into the sport initially?
I was dating a skater when I was 15, we watched the Attack of Danger Bay race in 2007, and a couple of months later he asked me to photograph him racing and freeriding. I’m going to say that is where it started.
Had you done much photography before then?
Other than the usual female photography, selfies and a 14 year old’s attempt at nature shots, not really.
What was your danger bay experience like?
It included a lot of alcohol, meeting new people and shenanigans. Even going every year you meet at least 20-50 new faces. It’s amazing. We have a tradition now called Tuna kaboom, walk up to someone’s fire, place in a can if tuna or beans, walk away and KABOOM, tuna showers. Raggie taught me that, I’ll never forget it. I just remember a lot of noshing, fighting and rough housing. Not to mention a lot of shot gunning.
What’s been the best tuna kaboom to date?
Raggie tossing a can of beans and tuna in team Yardwaste’s fire haha running away and watching them curse at the tuna rain.
What made you want to go back?
Honestly, it’s the people more than the sport. I’ve developed great friendships with people around the world and they are some of the best friends I could ever ask for. I love the skate community.
How was photographing that first event?
It wasn’t easy. 70% of the shots were blurry. I didn’t know the camera very well. I was scared of getting hit by stray boards and flailing skaters. I didn’t know many people so I didn’t talk much either.
How did you get to know your camera?
For the first year I used a canon, I got okay with it. Second year I was homeless, didn’t have a camera, so I borrowed cameras, from Rayne riders and whatnot. Then after I got back on my feet I borrowed my dads camera. And around November I got a loan and bought myself a Nikon D7000. I still don’t really know everything about it. Trial and error & practice makes perfect.
Hugs. How did you make if through that year?
Wasn’t easy. Fresh out of a long term relationship breakup. I had nowhere to go, I lived in my car for a while, slept outside. But I was taken in by a French Canadian family in Maple Ridge. They were and are some very important people in my life. After that I couch surfed at the Stoop Skatehouse.
What’s the biggest lesson you learnt that year?
Be careful who you trust.
“Whether it be picking people up at airports who are stranded, giving rides, places to stay or just being a friend. They were there for me, I’ll be there for them.”
The skate community had your back?
Yessir. And I’ll never forget it. Now I always make sure I help other skaters. Whether it be picking people up at airports who are stranded, giving rides, places to stay or just being a friend. They were there for me, I’ll be there for them.
How did you grow so close with the family in such a short time?
There was an immediate bond. It was like chemistry and fireworks but the family version. They took me in, it’s hard not to feel loved and love back when they already had very little room but took me in their lives anyway.
What is the Stoop Skatehouse?
A two level house filled with skaters and skateboards. It’s like SkatehouseMedia but Canadian. And they fit a lot more skaters, and they have block parties and house parties. The people there are great and that’s where I met some very good friends, Jacko from Australia, Jean Fredric from Quebec, some Cali skaters, it’s just all around a great place.
Who lived there when you were a housemate?
Oh jeez. Uhm, Hugh, Holly, Eric, TK and Louie were the main people. Then there were the guests. About 5 Aussies, A French kid, me, and there were people in and out all the time.
What was the next event you attended after DB?
I would say Splash for Cash at Jakes Rash but that is an outlaw, the next Real event was Britannia Classic, formerly known as The Goldrush.
Outlaws are just as gnar?
I loooove outlaws. The lack of rules, the silly rules, watching people grab on to each other, well maybe this only happens here, everyone calls it “B.C. Racing”. You race to win and do whatever is necessary. It’s rain or shine on some of the stupidest roads (by stupid I mean gnarly pavement). And when the cops show up its Chinese downhill and don’t get caught.
Did you shoot at Jakes Rash?
I sure did. I have the photos still to prove it. I was also there last weekend.
What was it like at your first Britannia Classic?
It was a whole different experience. I was used to an event that was 80% party and 10% serious racing and 10% hungover/drunk racing. Britannia was all serious. It was super sick. Cameron Frazier picked me up in Tiffany and off we went. My first away from home event. I met a lot of people, mostly Rayne riders, who I owe a lot to. Love those guys. I remember a skater knocked cams camera out of my hand and it flew about 19 feet. I was so scared I broke it. It was perfectly fine. Thank goooshhh.
100% serious meant less fun?
Haha nah. Of course there were shenanigans after the race at camp. Wouldn’t be a skate event without some trouble. Just people were a little more focused.
Seems like you have a special place in your heart for Rayne.
I really do. They have been there for me. And they make quality boards. Not saying Landyachtz doesn’t, I have very good friends there too!
“…people got stoked on my photos, and asked if I would go to the next event. So I said sure. And even being homeless I still made it, whether I had to hitch-hike or catch a ride – I went and I photographed. I don’t think I will be able to stop. Serious respect for the sport.”
What kept you going to these events?
The people, they got stoked on my photos, and asked if I would go to the next one. So I said sure. And even being homeless I still made it, whether I had to hitch-hike or catch a ride – I went and I photographed. I don’t think I will be able to stop. Serious respect for the sport.
Who was your biggest fan then?
My biggest fan back then? I don’t think I had any haha I barely believe I have any nowadays.
How had your photography evolved between those 3 events?
I was able to keep the skater in the frame, and make photos less blurry. I learned the best places on a road to stand for the best photos. I have certain theories/quotes about those.
What are the best places to shoot racing from?
If its a dangerous spot, it’s a good spot.
The rider will be heading straight for you, it makes for great shots. And the apex is always good. Or just after an apex. On the opposite side of the road, you get the riders coming through a corner and the angle makes it look le they’re heading straight for you. Sorry can’t give away all my secrets.
“In my mind the rider is what’s important, not the equipment. That’s what I aim to capture.”
What did you enjoy about shooting skateboarders?
I enjoyed being able to capture in a still fame, the different styles of each individual rider. In my mind the rider is what’s important, not the equipment. That’s what I aim to capture.
Why is stillness important in such a fluid sport?
Ever notice how hard it is to see detail when people pass you 50-100 kmph? You can’t see the hardwork in the leathers or the detail in the trucks & wheels, but in a photo you can capture the faces. The emotion. The concentration.
Is that what you try to capture?
Yessir. I try to make the rider fill the frame. That’s why not too many of my shots are bought. Apparently people want scenery shots. And the rider is so tiny in the photos, yes it’s beautiful but I guess my stuff is what riders love and not companies.
And you’ll never change for all the dollars in the world?
Variety is cool. Sometimes I change it up. But I don’t do it for the money. I’ve probably made $50 over 3 years. I just like seeing people happy. And really, I just want to be somebody. That people know. I don’t need to be rich.
What do you want to be known for?
I want to be different. Known not just for one particular thing. But for many things. I like having my own style and way of doing things. Then people know me as someone different. I want to be somebody important. I don’t know why or what for. But I feel like it’s something I need. People seem to know me as that girl photographer that helps everyone way too much and is way too nice.
What emotions do you come closest to from behind your lens?
This might sound bad but I love seeing anger/frustration. That rider in second place, steamed up visor. Trying his hardest to just get ahead one more spot. Intense stuff. But my favourite is when riders skate with a smile.
Who do you enjoy photographing?
I really enjoy photographing the ever so fast, Kevin Reimer. He’s not called White Lightning for nothing. Really I love taking everyone’s photos, but a quick list of favourites would be, Patrick Switzer, Jimmy Riha, Tommy Watson, Max Capps, Maximillian Gradlmiller, Katie Nielson, Jackson Shapiera and really the list goes on.
How is capturing those guys different?
Just that they’re so, precise and they know what they want and where they’re going. That makes my job easier. I know what lines they will take so I know what angle to stand at.
Is there any chemistry between skater and photographer?
Oh no doubt. There’s a lot of trust if you want good shots. An example is, at jakes rash, I stand at the beginning of one of the tightest Apex’s, and Raggie English from team green, he takes super tight lines there, basically he trusts me not to move and I trust him to lean enough, we brush shoulders. Every time. I get the shot, and he gets the rush.
What did you get up to in 2011?
I was couch surfing and moving back to the Sunshine Coast from Vancouver. I managed to make it to almost every race in British Columbia, as well as Maryhill. It was a tough year but I made it! 2011 I also made some really good new friendships. I bonded with Raggie and Troy Grenier. We’ve been through thick and thin.
Who is Troy?
Troy “Yardwaste” Grenier. Also known as “sector Troy”, “awesome king”. He is sponsored by sector 9 and is part of the team Yardwaste. Group of about 6/7 guys from Abbotsford. He’s a very good friend of mine, and he shreds! For real. We have a team of him and myself, we call ourselves “Team Rehab” because we went on a road trip in 2011, and he had quit drinking and so did I, I also quit smoking weed, and somehow we both ended up drinking and smoking. Raggie made a joke that we need to go back to rehab hahaha.
Are there many other familiar photographers?
Oh lots! Andy Russell, Dawn Moisenen, Jon Huey, Max Dubler, 1904 photography. List goes on.
How did you find Maryhill?
Maryhill has been one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve gone 3 years in a row now. And I will continue to go until the event shuts down. Maryhill loops road is a skaters dream and is just as beautiful for photographers.
What did you experience on your first visit?
The first time we turned that corner and I set my eyes on Maryhill loops road I fell in love. I said to myself I have to skate this before I die. Now aside from the sick road, the campsite…. Oh lord. I remember when I met and Max Capps for the first time. He gave me a bb gun and we ran around shooting people. That was a lot of fun. Then the fireworks. That’s an experience. Canada vs USA because it was right in the middle of Canada day and the 4th of July. The last night of camping is where I met a very good friend Malachi Greene. We decided to fight and he basically suplexed me. I got back up and he said he’s never seen a girl take a hit so good. And we were immediate friends. And have been best friends since.
What was the biggest way you grew that year?
I really opened up that year. I used to be shy and scared of people. But now I’m super friendly, pretty outgoing and I actually have fun!
Who is yourself?
I guess I am a 21 year old who has the mind of a 25 year old who has seen and been through some things most people my age will never experience. I hear all the time I’m way too nice and I take care of others more than myself. Really I’m pretty simple but also very complex. Just gotta get to know me.
Was shooting Maryhill different?
It was! There’s soooo much hill and different spots to choose from. If you have the will and drive to hike the whole hill in that heat you get a variety of different photos. Which is always good. And you get shots no one else gets.
Also it’s such a smooth road that people are more comfortable skating in packs. Making your photos badassss. 70% of photography is the riders themselves. Without them my photos would be of a smooth road. Nice. But no action.
“70% of photography is the riders themselves. Without them my photos would just be of a smooth road.”
What’s the best photo you’ve taken at Maryhill?
Probably the group shot I have as most of my cover photos. Jonas Richter, Patrick Switzer, Graham B, James Kelly, lots of others and lots of slalom boards.
I find it hard to choose just one.
If you could stage a photo what would it be like?
Because I am a nerd I would do a 2D style video game scene. Kind of like a Mario World. I also like night time photos. Hard to decide when you have so much to experiment with.
Who would be in it and what would they be doing?
That’s a secret. Actually, I have no idea.
What did you see your role as in the community?
I don’t really know what my role is. I just show up, press buttons, and make people stoked I suppose.
Is it important to be able to make a living from your passion?
You know, I don’t make much money from taking photos, well actually… I don’t make any money. I don’t do it for money, I do it because I like it. It makes me happy to make other people stoked. Can I make a living off photography? No, not yet. But it has given me a life. Which to me, is way more important.
Would you be happy to make a career of this?
Of course. Who wouldn’t want to travel around, and hangout with their friends around the world for a living.
How was last year?
2012 was probably the same as 2011 except I had a home and a job. I kind of lost track of time.
Did you hit up the same events?
I go to all the events in British Columbia. This will be my fourth Maryhill. And my second time in Florida and Puerto Rico.
What makes the BC circuit special?
It’s my favourite. The flow of races all over BC. The hills, the pavement and the people. You get to see each individual town across the province. The views driving through the mountains are stunning. I would recommend it to any skater wishing to travel with the circuit.
What were you shooting with?
I used to shoot with a canon eos. I now shoot with a Nikon D7000 and my favourite lens is 55-300. I really want a 18-300
How would the 18-300 change your photo game?
I wouldn’t have to change lens all the time. Between my 18-55 and 55-300.
Did you enjoy Kona?
Oh my goodness. Kona was something else. To be able to fall asleep to the sounds of skateboarding. And wake up and people are still shredding around 5 am. And the park was amazing. I can’t wait to go back.
How was PR?
Puerto Rico was also an amazing experience. It’s so different from home. The people are so nice and welcoming. The weather is awesome. The rain was warm. The hills are beautiful. Definitely something else. The race itself wasn’t quite organized and taken care of as well as it should have been. Resulting in some spectator injuries. But with the amount of people that were there I can’t really blame security. I have never seen so many people at a race. I think Florida and Puerto Rico were my highlights of this year for sure.
Do you still have much growth left as a photographer?
Tons. I still haven’t used every setting on my camera.
Will we ever see you in Europe?
One day, you’ll see! Australia too.
Did you have any goals at the start of this year?
One of my goals was to see the east coast. And I made it! I have new goals for the next 2 years now.
What took you to the east coast?
I felt like I needed to see some different styles of skateboarding. A change in scenery. And how many people get to go to Florida and Puerto Rico within a month at age 20?
What’s stopping you from being a rad skater?
Probably my fear of falling. And not being able to afford the proper skate gear. I think it would be a big confidence booster if I had knee pads and whatnot. I’ll get it one day.
Hello skater reading this, set a board up for Alysha. There, done!
Oh I have a board. I have a 2012 top mount killswitch, Paris 180s. Venom SHR bushings. (Seafoam and blood red) recently acquired a Patrick Switzer triple 8 brain bucket. And I have Abec11 wheels. All I need are some G-form elbow/knee pads.
Have you had any injuries?
I fractured my wrist skating. And I broke my hand after punching a metal object (I don’t recommend it) and then I messed my wrist up in Florida vaulting myself over a hotel bed trying to avoid stepping on Casey Morrow, Pat Haluska and some bustin riders. (There were like 12 of us in a 1 bed hotel room for Surf Expo).
Are you shy to ask for help?
I wouldn’t say shy but I don’t like asking people for things. It makes me feel bad for some reason. I don’t like people thinking they’re being used. Because that’s never my intention.
How has 2013 treated you?
2013 has been my best year yet. I have my own camera. I went to almost every single race in BC. Made it to the east coast. Made some new friends that I’m very happy to have. And so glad I met them. I have a good job and make decent money. They give me all the time off I need to travel. I’m healthier than I used to be, eating properly. Life is good and really I shouldn’t complain about anything.
Eating a lot of good bacon?
Got big plans for the rest of the year?
Just basically work 6 days a week. Chill out. Save money. Work on my car. Possibly Vegas for my birthday. Hawaii for 14 days In December.
What do you do when you’re not taking photos?
I’m usually working, I’m a licensed locksmith and I also work in the engraving shop. After work I either play video games, or I’ll be up the mountain dirt biking, quading or 4x4ing. I also like to play cars and trucks, for example this weekend putting a cummins engine into a dodge. Anything on wheels fascinates me.
Pick 3 numbers between 1-13.
3, 7, 13
3 – What crime are you most likely to go to prison for?
Probably beating someone up, trying to protect my sister haha.
Is that where “manslaughter” comes from?
Haha no. I’ve been playing video-games since I was 3. When I was 13 I used my brothers Steam account. His username was ManSlaughter. It just kind of stuck. And my friends started to call me manslaughter. But yeah, I don’t take shit so if I get crossed I could possibly become a real version of my video-game persona.
7 – Why did the chicken cross the road?
Because f*ck it.
13 – What happens when a zombie bites a shark?
I won’t want to live on this planet anymore.
Also quick thought, if it’s already technically dead, will it be able to come onto land, because it won’t die right. So basically we’re f*cked.
We did it! So stoked on your story and for the opportunity to spend hours getting to know you. I love your work. See you in Europe soon?
Thank you so very much for taking the time to listen to my story. there’s still so much more. And Europe will happen.
Any thank yous?
I have to give a big thank you to Bricin Striker Lyons. The creator and godfather of Coast Longboarding. He is my biggest inspiration. Jon Huey and Max Dubler. They’re my photographer heroes. Max K too. A big thank you to Rayne longboards and Switchback longboards. Rylan Raggie English especially. He’s been there for me through thick and thin. He’s number one. Been one the best friends I could have ever asked for, for 5 years now. There’re so many people to thank for helping me get to where I am.
I love all of you.
2. Tommy Watson. This is one smart guy with the best advice. Also one of the most fun dudes to hangout with. Even if he is American. 3. Last but not least. Maximillian Gradlmiller. One of my bestest friends out there. He’s marked me for life with a gnarly drunken scar tattoo, and he’s there for me whenever I need him. He’s a lot of fun and a sick skater. Watch out for these three