A few months ago I decided to start teaching kids in my area how to skateboard. Shortly after posting in our community forum, I was approached by Zoltan, who (although not a kid) - was very eager to start skating.
Some people catch the skate bug very early in their life - but it is a different story for when grown ups decide to take up the sport. We're all set in our fears, the possibility of getting badly injured is real, but even with all the risks - some people still decide to pursue this later on in life - and the feeling is all the same regardless of age. The stoke is real.
I found out a little later that Zoltan was a photographer and wanted to try his chops at skateboarding shots and asked if I'd be interested to be the test subject. And in spirit of supporting a homie - I said "yes."
A very short disclaimer, I hate cameras and I don't like being in front of them, always feel awkward. But Z did a pretty good job at making me feel comfortable.
Here's a photo dump of what went down, we got rained on, but we tried to make the most of the session.
Gahyao: Hey Z, why don’t you introduce yourself and what you do.
Zoltan: Hey A, my name is Zoltan, I grew up in Hungary, spent 10 years in the UK, then moved to HK around 2.5 years ago. I have been working mostly as a freelance creative retoucher and photographer.
G: I met you a few months back, and you wanted to learn skateboarding - what got you interested? How’d that all start?
Z: For many years I wanted to start skateboarding but never came round to it. This year after watching Back to the Future again (for the millionth time) and seeing Marty on his skateboard, I decided to just do it! I’m not getting any younger, and with covid slowing down the world, it gave me a bit of extra time as well.
G: You and I understand that skating is a lot easier to learn when you’re young and fearless - what are some of the struggles you face as an older skater?
Z: Yea, starting at 34 definitely has challenges, I’m not as fearless as I was as a kid and I’ve seen too many videos of people slamming hard on the ground! Also as an adult I can’t really afford to get hurt and not be able to work for a while, that’s why I got a wrist guard the same day I got my board. For me the main struggle is the commitment to land with both feet on the deck at the moment.
G: What’s your dream trick to land?
Z: At the moment I just want to land a proper ollie, haha, and one day a 180 kickflip down a couple of stairs….(ambitious dreaming).
G: So let’s talk photography - how long have you been doing it?
Z: So I studied photography back in Hungary, but after moving London somehow I ended up sitting behind a desk and editing other peoples images for many years. I started shifting towards photography again around 3 years ago.
G: Where do you draw inspiration from or what’s your process when coming up with an idea for a shoot?
Z: Inspiration can be anywhere: seeing other photographers work, watching a movie with beautiful imagery or just walking down the street and seeing something cool.
G: When did you arrive to Hong Kong? Was it hard adjusting to the hustle and bustle here?
Z: I arrived in 2019, it wasn’t that hard as I had visited HK a couple of times before. I definitely enjoy the efficiency of some services here.
G: Do you find it difficult working as a photographer in HK? Especially because you don't speak the language?
Z: It definitely has some challenges, the industry here is much smaller and the standards are different to the UK… Also the fact that I don’t speak Cantonese makes it more challenging too. However, I know it just takes time to build up connections and to get used to the way things work here.
G: Mind sharing what’s your favourite part of a photo shoot?
Z: Connecting and getting to know interesting people and seeing the idea for the shoot come to life.
G: Favourite skater?
Z: Tony Hawk, I know it’s a cliche answer!
G: Favourite photographer?
Z: It’s hard to pick just one, maybe Sean Tucker, Steve McCurry, Peter Lindberg and someone related to the skater world, Mike Blabac.
G: Any advise for people looking to start a career in photography and editing?
Z: Focus on developing the skills, it’s not about the gear (too many care way too much about the equipment, especially here in HK).
Keep shooting and practicing. Networking is also very important.
G: How about for older dudes and gals who want to start skating?
Z: Just do it! (Sponsored by nike….. bad joke) Seriously, skateboarding is such a fun and satisfying sport, I wish I started much earlier.
G: Whats your plans for the rest of the year?
Z: Once I have learned to do a proper ollie, I would be able to move on to learning a bunch of other tricks like pop-shuvit, frontside 180, kick flip etc.
At the moment a big part of my work is still image editing but I would prefer to do more photography…and it would be great to have a vacation if possible.
G: Where can people find more about your work?