Strangely, there was very little content coming from the skate mecca that is Auckland, New Zealand for a long time until Isaac came along. His razor sharp eye and evident love for Jake Darwens work, grabbed my attention, as I would flick through the pages of Manual Magazine. With very little experience Isaac had all of a sudden become one of the best skate photographers in NZ. When I first met him at Auckland’s beloved Aotea Square, he displayed a genuine love for skateboarding, photography and strived to push his mates to be the best they can be. His clumsy character and motivating attitude lead him to getting a one-way ticket to Melbourne to pursue his passion. He has since taken over the city skate scene and is constantly filling the pages of local magazines with his camera wizardry. You're doing New Zealand proud cuz!
Hey bro! You got time to talk some shit??
Yeah hard g.
Aite, lets do it. What’s been happening today??
Not much really man. Brunsie (Dylan Bruns) and I attempted to clean the pool, watched some movies, ate some Mi Goreng (cheap ass noodles) now I’m gonna edit some photos. The rain is making me go crazy!
Yeah for real. Tell me about your current living situation?
I live at “The House”. Its pretty much just a skate house consisting of Tully West, Dylan Bruns, Simon Frazzetto, Meijin (Takuya Takahashi) and myself. However, there are many affiliates who crash almost every night of the week. Everyone has actual jobs except me, so countless days are spent walking in circles around the kitchen waiting for people to go skate. It’s the best house ever. I don’t understand how we all managed to suss a place like this. From living with my parents in New Zealand to a house full of skaters is fucking sick.
So how long have you been shooting photos?
It’s been about 4 years now. Mum got me a DSLR for Christmas and I haven’t stopped shooting since.
Damn. That’s a dope present!! Have you studied photography at all? You have gotten so good in such little time!!
I started studying photography when I was 16, then I was able to study full time in the last year of high school. I was just out skating most days of the week, out shooting photos so that helped me improve a lot, although the tutors wanted me to focus on other aspects on photography. They didn’t really understand that I only wanted to shoot skating. Nothing else.
Yeah for real. I don’t think school has much impact on skate photography. It’s a completely separate genre from what they teach you in school. Although you do learn some cool stuff, a lot of it doesn’t relate to skating.
Taking photos is my excuse to skate everyday. Haha.
Aside from photography, is it true you were quite successful in the golf scene?!??! Ha-ha.
Yeah I was the modern 13 year old comp skater of Golf!
I was travelling around New Zealand playing in the National Competitions and everything. One day I had a massive melt down and swore not to compete ever again.
I was coming first in the Under 13 Nationals for the first 3 days, and the pressure really got to me and I absolutely blew it on the last day and ended up so far down the score board it wasn’t funny! I was practicing every single day before and after school for at least a year. Competitive golf ruined it for me I guess. Far too much pressure for a 13 year old, so I ended up getting back into skating. I probably should have stuck with golf tho. Have you seen how much those guys get paid!?!
Yeah true, they do make a lot of money, but I’d much rather see your photos than a game of golf ha-ha. So you moved to Melbourne around a year or so ago. Do you miss New Zealand? You guys had a pretty strong scene in Auckland, especially at Aotea Square! (Plaza located in Auckland CBD)
Yeah I moved here back in February (2016). It all happened really quickly. You guys came over on that Nike trip in January and I’d never experienced skating like that before. All the beers, all the results! I couldn’t turn back on that! Jarrad Carlin said I could come crash at his for a little. I booked return tickets but never ended up leaving. I ended up staying at “The House”. Massive shout out to Brunsie and Jarrad.
The Auckland scene is so good. I do miss it a lot. I went back a few weeks ago and caught up with the homies. They are all amazing skateboarders and people. Also, I do miss Aotea Square. Unlimited ledges, perfect ground. The ideal plaza. I’d love to still be kicking it in Auckland but I had to make the move if I wanted to stay in skateboarding. Everyone in Melbourne is just as cool, so I cant complain!
Yeah NZ is great. Melbourne just has that little bit more punch to it. Better spots, better weather, better money, opportunities etc etc.
Back to photography, Iv noticed you don’t really seem to plan much in terms of going out shooting. Is this your preferred method??
Yeah for sure. Well I figured if I try and skate everyday, what am I gonna miss? It’s a pretty shit method, but it works most of the time. Being new to Melbourne, I don’t want to be that guy that’s just hitting up people to shoot without knowing how they skate and spots they would be in to .
Now that I know a few people it’s getting easier to plan. I like finding good spots that I know will look good with a certain skater with the right trick.
Shooting whatever works for some things, but only recently I have started planning to produce articles with a theme. It’s hard to shoot a series with no thought behind it. That’s what I’m working on at the moment.
Nice! I’m super hyped on all the younger crew getting it done. Although there is a shit load of just kicking it and drinking beers, you guys are the most productive in Melbourne, if not Australia right now.
Yeah the whole scene is good and I’m stoked to be amongst it. Far too much beer tho, ha-ha.
Everyone just has so much fun, that’s why I think the scene is thriving right now, let alone the likes of Geoff Campbell pushing people further with their skating really helps.
The scene has always been sick here, although its defiantly a breath of fresh air seeing new faces in the streets. As a photographer, who are your biggest influences??
Jake Darwen for sure. He’s probably the first skate photographer who’s work I started following. Obviously his photos are unreal and I wanted to work towards that. Also what motivates me is how hard he skates! He helps me learnt tricks while also never hesitating to critique my work.
Other photographers I’m super into are Oliver Barton, Jason Morey, Mike Heikkila, Mike O’Meally Steve Gourlay… Oh and I can forget French Fred!
Darwen is phenomenal. O’Meally’s old photos are insane. He really captured the 90’ scene in its prime. What is it about Darwen’s work that you like the most??
Just how perfect all of his work is. His compositional techniques, his lighting is always incredible and most of all, the form of the skater he captures is always on point! That’s what stands out for me the most.
Yeah that’s true! He brings out the best in everyone he shoots. It amazing. Aite man, we done. Any shout outs?
Shout out to you, and to anyone Iv ever shot a photo with!