When I started drawing up a list of photographers that I wanted to interview for ‘Skateboarding Photo’, the name on the top of my list was that of Madison Ray Zimmerman. In a skate world obsessed with images of rails, stair-sets and ledges, MRZ isn’t afraid to fill the frame with his subjects, and breathes renewed life into his amazing shots from backyard pools, The Protec Pool Party, and Rumble In Ramona vert jam to name a few. Words by Harvey Mills, all pics courtesy and copyright MRZ.
SP Ray, thanks so much for agreeing to take the time to talk to us – I know that you’re crazy busy in your darkroom at the moment – preparing for an exhibition. Is this your first solo showing?
MRZ Thank you. Yes I’m getting ready for my first solo exhibit. It’s been an interesting process. I’m trying to select images that I like versus what I might sell. It’s never been about money. I guess that’s why I’m so broke. HAHA
SP For those readers who aren’t familiar with you or your work (unlikely), can you give us a bit of background on yourself, Ray?
MRZ I have been a commercial photographer for over 20 years. I shoot skateboarding mostly for fun.
MRZ I started skateboarding in the early seventies. I grew up in Southern California, and I got to ride all the great skateparks. I got sponsored by Madrid skateboards, entered all the contests, became the team manager, and I worked at Lakewood Skatepark. Skateboarding was MY LIFE.
Around 1980 I was on my way to work (riding my bike) and I saw a camera sitting on a curb. There was no one around so, I claimed it! I took it to the local camera store to see how much they’d give me for it. Well, the guy offered me $20.00 dollars. I knew he was trying to rip me off, so I decided to keep it and try to figure it out. I started taking pictures at the skatepark of my friends. I wish I still had those photos today….
[Opposite: "Bucky Lasek method air. This was one of those 'right place at the right time' shots. There were a lot of photographers at the event but I was the guy at the right place!" Inset: Ray Z still getting down and dirty in the pool]