From KC, To ATL, And Back Again (part 1)

It’s always the same old joke when I tell people I’m from Kansas. “You’re not in Kansas anymore Dorthy!”
“Where’s totto?”
“Where are your sparkly red heels?”
I swear that movie was the worst thing to happen to Kansas City’ins.

Anyway, growing up skateboarding in Kansas wasn’t as bad as one might think. Tornado thrashed farm lands is the image that comes up in most people’s minds when they think of Kansas. Which is true for the most part in the western part of Kansas. The city however, is on the east side of the state lying shoulder to shoulder with Missouri. The city resembles the architectural style of Chicago, and the Midwest feel shines through with its monotone color pallet and it’s multitude of bricks.
The skateboard spots in Kansas City are great, but unfortunately scarce. The skateboarders in Kansas City are extremely talented in many ways. Because of the limited amount of spots, skaters are forced to search high and low for something new or think about different possibilities on the already obtained areas. This unique style of skateboarding is shown perfectly through the eyes of Ryan Lovell and his creation of Fourteen Deep. This cinematic masterpiece is filled with innovative tricks, untouchable style and enough gnar factor to be Zero’s little brother. The skateboarders in the video are of course good but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree with Ryan Lovell. He’s got flat ground that can kill a man even after three Big Bears.


In the summer of 2006, I graduated high school and moved from Kansas to further my photographic education. It was terrible leaving all my good friends and the wonderful place I called home for so many years. I moved down south to the peach filled state of Georgia. After a few weeks I made some good friends and started skating throughout Atlanta. Skateboarding in Atlanta is so much different from Kansas City. As I said earlier, Kansas City has a limited supply of spots, but Atlanta is overflowing with things to skate on. This is mostly due to the vast suburban sprawl surrounding the city of Atlanta. The one thing I love about skateboarding in Atlanta is the amount of new spots that pop up on a weekly basis with some spot searching. It’s like Christmas Day if a new spot pops up in Kansas City, but here in Atlanta it’s not unusual to find at least three new spots in a day if your looking.

The skateboarder’s here in Atlanta are exceedingly gifted. Their ability to skate any kind of terrain is a visible, because after all, Atlanta is an east coast city. The spots may be vast, but often times have the cracks and roughness that you can expect from the east coast. Another major difference between Kansas City and Atlanta is the number of skateboarders. Back home in Kansas, it was very unusual to see another skateboarder you don’t know or recognize. Here in Atlanta, I barley know one fourth of the amount of skateboarders.

The portion of the Atlanta skate scene that I have the pleasure to skate with is documented by the creative mind of Chris Thiessen. His mixture of lifestyle scenes and skateboarding come together to convey something more than just a skate video. His unique style of cinematography consist of documenting skateboarding’s urban surroundings as well as the simple pleasure of pushing on a skateboard. This style is blossoming in his second video entitled Meanwhile.

One of the greatest things about skateboarding is the ability one has to make great friends in many different states and even other countries. Everyone that is reading this has something in common, we all love to skateboard. This commonality can instantly spark into friendship. Your skateboard is all you need no matter where you go or end up. If you move to a new area, take out you board and ride it around. I guarantee you in no time you will have a great group of friends.

The following slideshows are a collection of photographs I have taken over the years. The pictures are of my good friends in Kansas and in Atlanta.—Aaron Smith