Tony Hawk at Del-Mar

“…if it was rolling, I shot it!”

Who were you shooting in those early days, and how did you develop your photographic chops?

I was shooting the locals mainly, practicing on them. Owen Nieder, Wally Inouye, Sonny Miller and all of the other Ams who skated there and then standing by the pool and shooting the pros that I knew or were visiting.

It helped to work there, so I had a personal relationship with them on some level.

I just shot heaps of film of everything I saw, if it was rolling, I shot it!

Like I said. I was going to college and thought I was going to be an artist or something and had been shooting all of this b&w film, but had never printed any of it.

I shot it because it was cheaper, I didn’t even own a lupe or a light table. Sonny Miller was taking photo classes at Palomar College and he asked me if I wanted to print some of my negs in the darkroom.

I remember seeing my first print appear in the developing bath, it blew my mind! It was a magical moment. I went to the office and enrolled in 3 photography classes and knew my life’s calling.

Do you remember your first ever published pic? Who, where and when?

I shot some photos of Mike and Kenny Stelmasky at DMSR and got a small Z-flex ad in ActionNOW (Skateboarder) right before they went under and then got a Z ad in one of the first Thrashers. I was stoked just to see my name on it, no money in those days.

After that, I had a handful of small DMSR photos run in Thrasher, Hawk, Gator and Ruff. I never worked for them and the shots were freebies. They hated San Diego and I was a San Diegan, so…

It must have been around this time that you got involved with ‘TransWorld SKATEboarding’ (TWS)? How did that come about, and what was your role at TWS?

In 1983, Larry Balma who owned Tracker Trucks came into the skatepark and asked me if I would donate some skate photos to a newsletter they were working on.

He then called a while later and invited me to come by and see the newsletter they had going. I walked into his office and saw the spreads pinned to the wall and realized that “Newsletter” was code for “Magazine”.

The first issue showed up at the park and we laughed our asses off over the “Skate and Create” and “Be good, be good” leanings.

I said right there that I wouldn’t give any more photos to them, but as history attests, I shot photos for TW and was the Photo Editor there for the next twenty years and they got huge.

Never say never….

[Opposite: Hawks flight at the Del Mar Skate Ranch В | В Pic: Brittain]

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