Photographer Mike Ballard waxes philosophical about astrological signage and the Hawaiian islands

“You’ve got it made.” I hear that too much, and although it may be true, as a Libra (the sign of balance), I tell people otherwise. Contrary to popular belief, as a career, photographing and traveling with skateboarders has both its ups and downs. I am often faced with the unknown: a place to sleep, food, subjects to work with. For every high comes an inevitable low, and thus the words stress and failure come into the picture.

I’ve been on the road for nearly ten years as a professional photographer (primarily in the skateboarding industry), and when a trip like the one I am writing about comes along, I cannot refuse the offer, no matter what the possible consequences may be. The notification of my journey came with great satisfaction as well as a feeling of certain failure. My experiences have taught me that when you’re offered an all-expense-paid trip to Hawaii there has to be some obstacle to balance out the pleasure.

I was asked to travel with some of the greatest skaters in existence and document their movements through demos and pleasures on a tropical island that I’d never personally set foot on. My first fear arrived with the announcement that the entire trip was just five short days, including travel time. Quality images do not come easily when in the company of such individuals as Eric Koston, Mike Carroll, Guy Mariano, Keenan Milton, Tim Gavin, and Jerone Wilson. Their talents would have to be matched with proper spot guidance and obstacles in order for my job to be easy.

I believe the pressure is felt on both sides of the table. Shooting with a seasoned veteran photographer must induce an incredible amount of pressure to produce the necessary images.

The trip was nothing short of amazing on the pleasure side, while the caliber of obstacles was short of expectations–reality check. I must say that considering what was offered, this group of individuals gave 100 percent and produced on a level everyone felt comfortable with. I have watched these guys throughout their careers, and it was a great experience to journey to an exotic island and truly grasp all that I did in the short amount of given time.

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