Like so many guys in skateboarding, I knew of Wade by reputation before an introduction. He was out front of a skateshop on the Sunshine Coast with my little brother’s ex the first time we met, he appeared quiet and reserved that day. Years later, I was short a photographer on a skate mission and Sammy Fullwood recommend bringing Wade Mclaughlin with us. That was the beginning of the end, not at all like that initial encounter, his work speaks for its self and so does he. There’s never a quiet moment with that tatted up, DIY loving, back Smith locking, vege growing, human in the van. Since that first mission, I’ve had complete confidence that if Wade is with us, the day will be accurately documented, the boys will be stoked on his angles and crops and we’ll be lucky to hear a dull moment.—Curtis Hay (founder & artist of Herstwood)
How old are you, where do you live now and where did you grow up?
25, I’m on the Sunshine Coast (Queensland, Australia), on the mend from a knee reconstruction. I grew up here too, it’s a bloody beautiful part of the world.
How long have you been shooting skating and what got you into it?
Well I’ve been skating since I was 11 years old and always had an interest in capturing what was going on, filming everything on a hi8 camera that I got for my birthday. When I was 14 we relocated and I started going to this school that had a really good arts program, including a huge darkroom. Once I got my hands on a SLR that was it, I’d spend all my school time (even some after school time) mucking around in there learning/avoiding other school work. I then got my first job at Maccas (McDonald’s) to save up for my first DSLR setup which took about a year. Once I had enough money I just stopped going.
Is there one photograph or photographer that inspired you to take up photography?
I can’t put my finger on just one photo but Rome Torti was one of the first dudes who I looked up to in skate photography. His photos always had a good feel and he shot a lot of my favorite skaters at the time. He’d even respond to my annoying Myspace messages as a grom. Good bloke. Never forget.
What's the best and worst advice you've been given on photography?
Best- Keep your camera with you.
Worst- Shoot scooters.
Do you have a favorite photo of your own?
Not really, the frontside ollie I shot of Shai Balmer in front of the Glasshouse Mountains is pretty special though. That was a very memorable spot. It was on the cover of Confusion too.
What's the most interesting story behind one of your photos?
On a Herstwood trip in Japan, we crete’d up a big roadside barrier on a remote part of Shikoku Island. It took Casey (Ainsworth) and I all day to build, between dodging killer hornets and a monkey encounter. The next day we shot a photo and sequence on it, then went to freshen up in the onsen (natural hot spring) which was located directly across a massive gorge. Three cop cars then pull up and we watch the rest of the crew as they are forced to demolish what took us all day to build. Apparently the cops had driven three hours from the closest town with the owner of the road, they had no idea what the fuck was going on. Everyone pretended they didn’t have their passports with them and Curtis was forced to sign a Japanese pledge outlining that we would submit all documentation before we left the country. That never happened.
What advice would you give to up and coming skate photogs?
Haha, I could do with a hot tip… I guess just fuckin’ do shit. If you fail, you’ll learn. Figure it out for yourself and make your own style. There’s no right way to do it, skateboarding and photography is subjective.
Do you prefer digital or film?
Like most people I prefer the ease of digital and what it can offer nowadays, but you have to stay humble to the origins of photography, purely playing with light rather than all this pixel/data shit. It’s the best way to learn how light works with a camera, plus you’ll never recreate that look exactly with digital.
What's in your camera bag?
I use my Nikon d750 mostly and the ol’ d2xs for sequences.
1x PW mini tt1 and 3x flex tt5s (and another on it’s way (thanks Dave)).
1 x Sunpak 555 and a few Nikon sb-24s.
Nikon 50mm 1.8 Dx, 35mm 1.8 Dx, 10.5mm (Lens hood cut off), 12-24mm, 70-300mm. Plus some shitty light stands and other bits and pieces.
Your photography website if you have one:
I should probably make one of those… firstname.lastname@example.org for contact.
Follow Wade on IG: @wade_mclaughlin