© Image by Shekhar Bansal
Gautham Nalasingu more popularly known as ‘G’ is one of the most bad ass skateboarding photographers of the country and his photographs are used by skateboarding communities and magazines all over the world. He started off on a board before he learnt how to capture one perfectly. G is an artist, photographer and a skateboarder. He is one of the founding members of ‘HolyStoked Collective’, India’s first official platform for skateboarding.
His knowledge and interest areas are not confined to the alternative sport though. G has some of the craziest and most creative ideas on life and the nature of reality as well.
Slash Event © Gautham Nalasingu
Read more to know more from the man himself;
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your story growing up.
I was born and brought up in Bangalore, since school days I was interested more in art than in studies, my dad being an artist himself (not commercially) he taught me different techniques and mediums. I started learning photography since school days (age 14) & been into it ever since.
After school I did my bachelor's degree in fine arts (painting), and a post graduation diploma in photography. Music is very important to me, I can hardly enjoy skating without any music.
Go Skate Day 2012 © Gautham Nalasingu
How did you first start to skate? Your days on the board, what was your life like back then?
I first started skating on June 21st 2012, Go skateboarding day. The whole day I spent walking around and photographing skaters and that's the day I felt like I want to learn it as well, and that evening I started skating. The initial days of skating were amazing! The feeling of learning something so different and new, i'm not sure how to describe it, one of the best feelings in the world.
Pondi 2013 © Gautham Nalasingu
How did the camera man merge with the skateboarder?
Shooting skateboarding and learning skating, started on the same day. It's hard to say how it merged, it just did. Although carrying around equipment and skating doesn't really work. Then I had to choose, whether to shoot on the day or to skate on the day. When I want to skate I don't carry my camera, when I want to shoot then I don't carry my skateboard. Skating did give me a sort of insight on how to shoot skateboarding. I don't have to think much about it.
Bangalore 2013 © Gautham Nalasingu
Who is your inspiration or who do you identify with the most from the skateboarding photography world? And why?
To be honest I wasn't exposed to the skateboarding world per say, till date i'm not really aware of the skateboarding photographers who are present. I know of only two names, namely Craig Stecyk and Aarto Saari. My inspiration for skateboarding photography were the very skaters themselves, the dedication it takes to skate in front of a camera and to land the trick under pressure, and landing it stylishly as well.
Bangalore 2014 © Gautham Nalasingu
Tell us about your first skateboarding shoot and how has the evolution of Athletes and events been so far?
My first skateboarding shoot was the Go skateboarding day June 21st 2012, a collective of about 20 or so skaters from all over India had gathered together for the first time that I had seen. We had hired out a mini bus and traveled around Bangalore, skating in different spots. The activity was non stop, there were so many things happening and there were a lot of opportunities to shoot. There was no dull period, that was the day I realized, shooting was no easy task and that it needs a very different approach, candid wouldn't be enough.
Bangalore 2013 © Gautham Nalasingu
Since then it just boomed, suddenly many things were happening all around in the skateboarding community so to speak. Introducing skateboarding in surfing festivals, which would include mini ramp on the beach (Orissa, Covelong near Chennai, Pondicherry), skatepark builds, (Play arena, HSR Holystoked skatepark), builds in Hampi and Goa. When these builds and spots to skate started to spread, then the skate tours started. The first tour was the 3rd eye tour, and the following Holy de tours, which would start in Bangalore and from there a bus full of skaters (about 30/40 of them) travel to Hampi and then to Goa.
Orisa 2013 © Gautham Nalasingu
Throughout all these events happening I developed photographing skateboarding with the use of an off camera flash to capture the tricks which were beginning to appear. And then the time had arrived for a skate competition for the skaters in India and Nepal owing to the rising numbers of skaters all over India and Nepal. That was and is Jugaad. The evolution of the skate community and the athletes themselves has been a pleasure to witness, I cant fully explain it in words but I do hope my photographs do so for me.
Third Eye Tour Bangalore, 2014 © Gautham Nalasingu
Tell us about some of your biggest projects and publishing experiences.
My first biggest project would be the Epic build which happened in 2013. It was close to a month long project, and that would be the first publishing experience. Along with numerous online articles, to a documentation project, and a German newspaper.
Epic Build Banaglore © Gautham Nalasingu
In 2015 I got published for the first time in a Swedish skateboarding magazine (Giftorm). This was for an article about the Holy Detour. The shoot during the Slash concert was fun as well, there was a mini ramp right next to the stage. Jugaad of course is a really big project, who's who in the skateboarding scene is present there and there is a lot of things happening during the 4 - 5 days. Nothing can be missed out during that period. The biggest project in skateboarding is yet to come, pretty soon.
Jugaad Delhi 2015 © Gautham Nalasingu
What has skateboarding photography taught you?
Skateboarding photography has taught me to be patient, and to concentrate quite a bit, losing focus even a little means all the effort of the skaters go to a waste, all that effort and tries taken to land a single trick, which can be anywhere between, 10 or a 100 tries, how many ever it takes. never know which one is gonna be the one they land. After a 100 tries and they land on the 101st try and I miss, that's not gonna be good. Concentrating each and every time, that's quite hard.
Pondi 2014 © Gautham Nalasingu
What is your take on the evolution of the sport in India so far?
Skateboarding in India is evolving like nothing I have ever seen, its just booming and growing so fast that even companies like Vans and DC Shoes don't know what to do with it. This is the key period to get cemented into the scene cause once it blows up completely then its hard to keep track of what is happening where. It looks promising for the skaters who are present in the scene today, quite a few opportunities have been coming up, quite a few brands have turned their heads towards this skateboarding scene which has just come up from nothing to this in no time.
Girl Skate Tour, Bangalore 2015 © Gautham Nalasingu
What plans do you have to take this passion to the next level?
As I never usually plan things, there isn't much I can say anything to that. As it stands today, documentation is not a priority for most of the brands which are being associated with this sport in India, which astounds me, having said that, as a professional photographer there is only so much time I can spend to keep taking this forward, doesn't feel good, buts that's the reality of things.
Holy De Tour 2016 Hampi © Gautham Nalasingu
But then again there's the bright side, our skateboarding community is a strong one, keeping the important things alive, a photobook and a magazine are well on their way, i'm working on improving my skills further to produce even better pictures, along with the increasing level of the skaters themselves. It all looks very promising, to be part of something special.
Holy De Tour 2016, Hampi © Gautham Nalasingu
Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?
Well, let's see. All I know right now is, I have met a lot of amazing people, and in 5 to 10 years, be surrounded by the same amazing people I have known and more to come.