Weekly updates:

Art Culture
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Weekly updates

As CARBON 2014 approaches, we’ll be sharing our interviews with the speakers appearing at the creative culture festival. March 29 and 30 will see a whole host of mavericks and trailblazers converge on Melbourne to share insights from the worlds of art, photography, design, style, music and more. The next cab off the rank in our interview series is iconic skate photographer Mike O’Meally.

CARBON festival 2014 is on March 29 and 30 at RMIT’s Storey Hall in Melbourne. You can get tickets from the ACCLAIM online store.

Hailing from Australia, Mike O’Meally is currently the senior photographer for preeminent skate title Transworld Skateboarding, translating his love of skating and its culture into some of the most iconic images in the genre. Not limited to just action photography, O’Meally has also become recognised for his emotive portrait work and continues to create lasting images, irrespective of the subject. After two decades behind the lens, O’Meally has cultivated an illustrious portfolio and is held in the highest esteem by his subjects, peers and fans.

How did you get your start as a photographer?

I studied photography as an elective during a Fine Arts degree at UNSW. From there I began submitting my photos to skate magazines and it snowballed from there.

What does your usual workday involve?

Start with checking emails and making some phone calls – possibly to organise future shoots, or coordinate with skaters or others regarding travel or ideas for a photo. Then either hit the road to scout or shoot some locations and hopefully meet up with a rider who is willing and raring to go. Finish up back at the home office backing up photos, working on the computer, updating the social media and perhaps making some prints.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?

Be respectful towards everyone. You never know who you might work with in the future. It’s not always easy, but if you can achieve this you are doing well.

Who do you look up to?

I look up to many other photographers who challenge themselves and are courageous in their approach – someone who is not afraid to take some risks.

What mantra do you live and/or work by?

Try to work hard, try to think differently. Keep trying.

What is it about skaters and skate culture that inspires you?

I love skating myself – I have since I was a young fella. The thing that inspires me is it though it does not come easily… when people can make it look easy, even though it’s dangerous – that’s what I find inspiring. Those moments that defy the real difficulty make it seem like magic. The act of it and the feeling of being close to danger but totally enjoying yourself – that’s what inspires me.

What do you think creates a good photo?

I think a good photo could have all the essential elements such as good composition, lighting, and interesting subject. But a great photo always seems to have something else: a fifth element that you can’t quite put your finger on.

How did you feel about your 20-year anniversary in photography?

It felt good to know that I have been lucky to do something I love for that long, but kind of surreal at the same time looking back at the early photos. I never thought when I was 19 years old that I would still be doing it 20 years later. It was humbling and I also felt proud that I have known some of the guys that I started shooting in the beginning for that long. And many of them are still as passionate and dedicated now as they were then. It was a good feeling knowing that I had shared that journey with some really good people.