Reece Leung: Behind The Lens

Following the success of our ‘Behind The Lens’ piece on Fabric Skateboards earlier this year we decided we wanted to run a regular feature where we let skate photographers tell us a little bit more about some of their favourite shots. To me, the most fascinating thing about skate photography is the process that goes into capturing that one trick.  Sometimes this process can take ten minutes and sometimes it can take hours but what you tend to find is that behind every great photo there’s often an interesting story. This could be a trip to a particular location or something unique about the photo that you may not have noticed at first because the subject is what drew your initial attention. This series aims to look behind the lens, taking the focus off the skater, and allowing the photographer to talk about their work in their own words.

I don’t remember when I first came across Reece’s work but I know I’ve been following what he’s been doing for a while now. Being based in Leeds where I grew up I would often look through his Instagram or check out his photos trying to find spots I didn’t know about then using google maps to relentlessly hunt them down. This is the best thing about Reece’s work and to me it really captures the essence of skateboarding; the exploration of your natural environment, the adventure, and that mission for the next new spot. Reece’s work is truly amazing and it’s been a pleasure to see him gain some recognition over the past year with several Sidewalk covers now under his belt. In a time where content is so rapidly produced, photographers like Reece are a breath of fresh air and a reminder that quality is always better than quantity.

It is with this in mind that we present to you the second instalment of our ‘Behind The Lens’ series, Mr Reece Leung:

Ben Grove – Threaded Ollie / Dart Ollie – Manchester 

I’d previously seen Ben do this in the Manchester Scene video ‘Shads’. He said he hadn’t shot a photo of it and wanted to do it again so I decided to go through to Manchester. I don’t know why he wanted to try this again, it looked mental. I met up with Ben and we went to the spot, he was feeling pretty nervous as he didn’t want to do it again, last time he did it first go so he was hoping this would be the case this time.

We got to the spot and this thing was horrible, it was higher than I thought and didn’t realise you have to gap about 6ft and then thread yourself between the signs. This was the first spot of the day so without any proper warm up Ben managed to somehow hype himself up to try it again. I got set up and then we were ready to go. He rolled up to it (still with his shades on) and tried it but the first few attempts he almost wrapped himself around the signs. This was worrying and it looked like it wasn’t going to be as easy as last time. It was obviously up to him if he wanted to carry on but he was keen. He had a few more run-ups then eventually popped a nice one and darted through the signs perfectly sticking it. We were both stoked and jumped back into the car where Joy Division and Happy Mondays played on the radio coincidently. This further hyped up Ben to try more mental stuff that day…

Sam Hutchinson ‘Blinky’ – Noseblunt Rag In – Leeds

I’d skated this hidden roof bank spot in Leeds before and had a trick in mind for my friend Blinky to try. I told him about the spot which he’d never skated before so we decided to go check it out. The previous time I skated this spot we were told that the owner of the building just got out of prison and if he caught us skating it we’d be long gone. We chanced it anyway and went to the spot. It was a bit risky because we didn’t know whether the roof was safe enough to skate on and Blinky wanted to go off the wall into the bank. He checked it out and insisted it was fine. Blinky got on with it anyway and attempted the trick, managing to land it within a few tries. We were out of there pretty sharply. Luckily we didn’t have an encounter with the owner of the building and it was all good.

Dan Beall – Kickflip into bank – Sheffield

I went through to Sheffield one day to meet up with Dan Beall and a few other Sheffield lads. He had a spot in mind he wanted to skate. He told me it was a drainage ditch spot which not many people have ventured to so we decided to hit it up. We drove quite a way out of Sheffield to get there and luckily it was a sunny day so it was likely to be dry enough to skate. We got there and had to trek a little while until we reached the spot. It was slightly wet but ok enough to skate. The spot was crazy, there was a few banks and then a huge one at the top of the spot. Dan eyed up the big bank and managed to get this kickflip into it. I was pretty stoked on this photo because the light casts a nice shadow on the wall of Dan’s kickflip.

Dave Adlington – Frontside Rock n’ Roll – Sinatra

This photo was taken during the Mallorca trip in February this year. This spot was so good to skate and it was in the middle of nowhere. We drove to the spot using some directions and somehow found it. We got there and had to crawl under a fence then walk towards this stadium-like building in the distance. We eventually got there and this place looked amazing. The stadium was abandoned and there were two rough bowls which you could skate near the entrance of the building. As we were checking out the building we came across two squatters who were telling us not to skate and threatening us with their dogs. We eventually came to an agreement with them and they let us skate for 15 minutes longer allowing Dave to get this frontside rock n’ roll. I like how you can see the landscape and the stadium in the background too. The stadium is named ‘Sinatra’ apparently because Sinatra himself played at this stadium before it became defunct.

Geff – Backside Noseblunt – Liverpool

During the cold winter we ventured to Liverpool for a skate and we ended up at this horrible spot to cater for the weather. This was such a horrible bank, its texture was like a cheese grater. People were struggling to skate it because of the coldness and the roughness. Geff came through and got this backside noseblunt, he even managed to slide it on the unwaxed bank. This is a classic example of a rough Liverpudlian spot.

Guy Jones – Wallride – Leeds

Going from one Merseysider to another, this photo of Wirral lad Guy Jones is one of my favourites that I’ve shot in Leeds. Guy was trying to film a line and this was the trick he started off with. I was shooting it from afar and I wanted to capture the busy city centre atmosphere. I liked this one because its just a simple trick and you have to pick him out amongst a busy scene.

Harry Lintell – Wallie into bank – Leeds

Another day during the winter we went to this crusty spot in Leeds. This isn’t in the nicest areas of Leeds either but there was a big group of us so it was fine. We were approached by a car handing out business cards which said ‘Mr Whatever-U-Need’…Grammes to Ounces, Deliveries & Deals’. I think every time I’ve been here someone have been offered something dodgy by a local scally. Anyway Harry tried to skate this spot a bit differently and he got this wallie out of the side of the bollard and into the barely ridable bank.

Jerome Campbell – Ollie – Mallorca

It was our last day of the Mallorca trip. Jerome and I decided to skate some spots close to the place we were staying at. He’d eyed up this spot which was near to the local bar where we went for drinks in the evenings. I’d not even noticed this spot and as soon as I saw it I knew it would make a good photo. It was a thin air vent nearly two floors high and it didn’t look the most stable of objects. The air vent led to a fence which Jerome wanted to ollie over. He stepped on it to test it out and you could see the vent almost denting in, he looked unbalanced even walking along it. He attempted to roll along it and you could see it was hard to get the balance right when he was popping the ollie. He didn’t think he could get used to it but he battled with it and eventually got an ollie over it with some spanish locals applauding him. This was the last spot of the trip and it probably produced the best photo from the week.

Laurie O’Hara – wallride nollie out on a tree – Leeds

I was skating Hyde Park in Leeds and we were all trying to think of a new spot to skate. Our friend Aiden Blaymire said he’d seen a tree just down the road which was skateable so we thought we’d give it a go. Laurie and Aiden both started trying to figure out how to skate this tree and we found a piece of wood for the run-up. With a few little changes we sorted it so it was slightly skateable. Laurie started trying this wallride nollie out but he kept getting stuck in certain places on the tree. He nearly gave up trying it but decided to give it a few more. On one of the attempts the piece of wood he used for the run-up flung up into the air after he’d ridden up it and this ended up being the one he landed. You can see the red piece of wood in the air in the photo if you look closely. I’ve never shot any photos of someone skating a tree and this was an interesting first experience.

Manny Lopez – Backside noseblunt – Leeds

During the winter Manny decided to come up to Leeds from London for the weekend hoping for some dry weather. He probably made the wrong decision because the weather was terrible on the first day. After a night out we were hungover on the Sunday. The weather was still pretty damp and chances of skating seemed pretty slim. Manny decided he wanted to hit up this rail in the city centre named ‘Tech 10’ to try and make the most of the long trip up to Leeds. Luckily the spot was pretty dry so a big group of us went up to the rail to see what Manny wanted to try. It turned out that he wanted to try a back noseblunt which had never been done. He was hyped to try it for some reason, the grim weather conditions didn’t seem to put him off. He started trying straight away so I set up as fast as I could. Manny tried this for about 20 minutes and took a few hefty slams. We thought he was going to stick it pretty soon but then he snapped his board. We were all gutted and everyone offered Manny their board to see if any of them suited him so he could keep trying the trick. He felt like one of the boards might be okay and decided to give it ago. It didn’t look promising on the first few roll ups but then he hacked it and tried the noseblunt again. After a few more horrible slams he stuck one out of the blue. Everyone one was stoked. On the landed attempt you can see a bus in the background and I like how you can see people looking out with all their different facial expressions.

Intro: Mike Evans

Words & Images: Reece Leung

You can check out more of Reece’s work over on his Flickr here.

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