Name / age / residency / job?

Toby Shaw, 31, Hastings, Freelance Photographer

Can you describe the current Hastings skate scene?

The Hastings skate scene is rad! I feel like since the lockdown ended everything for a while, the skate community here has just gotten so much bigger. I’ll be walking somewhere and I’ll see a group of young skaters cheering each other on filming little phone clips. The skatepark scene now, is a lot busier with skaters killing it on a daily basis, like Sonny for instance is killing every obstacle in his path. The main thing that stands out to me is seeing these new skateboarders emerge and seeing them simply smiling and enjoying themselves. As long as you’re having fun that’s all that matters and that’s how I’d sum up the skate scene - fun.

How was the filming process of 'Jumble Sale' for you?

I’ve been on many filming missions with Tom Pickard and the filming for Jumble Sale was real fun. I love the idea of filming local to the UK, hitting up these gritty spots people wouldn’t look at as a skate spot. It was fun, easy and exciting as I love making a spot out of nothing and getting creative with skateboarding and the camera.

What was the hardest clip for you to film?

The quick ollie up curb to quick road gap in the Morrisons car park in Hastings. At the time of trying to film that trick we were limited to Sundays as the supermarket closes at 4pm allowing the car park to be empty and free of cars. Not only this but I was working weekends 8-6pm so I had to boost my delivery driving super fast before everyone’s scheduled time, hoping they were in and get down to the spot. Also, it started to get dark around 5 so time was limited too. I had to maintain my energy on the shift four Sundays in a row eating about 6 bananas allowing myself to feel light and ready. I also had an emergency Monster energy drink to give me that extra oomf that the trick would need as it was a slightly uphill cardio battle.

With the tree ollie, is there a story to that?

I remember walking along the seafront and looking at the palm trees seeing these almost Y shaped trees but some were way too high and some were more bushey. It wasn’t until the very last palm tree at the end of the stretch of walk that this perfectly sized height tree revealed itself and I knew it had potential and was asking for an ollie through. It was the Y shape palm tree you see in a lot of skate videos apart from it had another trunk growing out of it slightly in the way. Anyway, I took a photo of it on my phone and sent it to Tom Pickard. I kinda called the trick to him but was put off by the other branch growing out of it in the way. It wasn’t until a few months had passed when Tom mentioned the tree ollie again and cutting off this branch that was growing in the way. It was quite funny as I remember Tom saying about wearing a hi-vis and looking all proper to cut a branch off at around 11pm at night on his own as I don’t think I could make it to watch and guard so the next day I got a message saying it’s done. This made me think, ok it’s happening now there’s no turning back. I can’t be the reason for the destruction of a branch and not try it. I’m pretty sure Tom said something similar like 'can’t cut the branch off in vain' or something. I’ve seen photos of pros jump through tree gaps and always thought it’s such a sick thing combining nature, the street, and skateboarding. I remember it was a Saturday and having to finish work to go jump through a tree and I’m pretty sure I ate about 6 bananas again for that!

How did it feel getting in 'The Skateboarder's Companion' mag with that shot?

It was a surreal moment to actually see myself printed in a magazine thinking someone wanted to print me off and fill a page with a trick that I had done, which was once an idea in my head. It was always a dream of mine to get my skate photos published in a good recognised skateboard magazine and I never thought I’d be in the magazine skateboarding myself. The feeling was awesome and felt like a huge achievement. Jumping through that tree felt like jumping through a ring of fire but a nature version!

I know that you have had quite a few lingering ankle injuries over the last couple of years, was this a problem whilst filming and how did you deal with it?

I have an ongoing injury from 2020, which is to do with my left foot. During lockdown I needed to get out of Hastings and popped a backside air at Rye Skatepark and whipped out on the landing and my toe got caught on the ramp as my weight was behind me and it basically bent my toe as far back as it could go with all my weight on it. I damaged the ligaments real bad and it swelled up massively, 3 years later and it still gives me trouble. Some days I’ll be walking along with no pain and all of a sudden, the ligament or something in my foot twinges and I get this awful sharp pain on the sole of my foot and I can’t put any weight on it. I also have skateboarders knee too, where my kneecap feels really weak and becomes painful inside my right knee, my front foot knee and kills all the power in me that I need to pop. For both injuries I find stretching and using a hard foam roller and being consistent with it really helps loosen up my muscles and frees me up for feeling like I can jump high.  

You are a freelance photographer, what do you shoot outside of skateboarding?

Outside of skateboarding I mostly get booked to cover red carpet events like film premieres, big awards ceremonies, such as the bafta awards, galas and also shooting for the press. As a photographer my main passion is shooting people’s portraits using both film and digital to capture interesting characters and putting my own style on a portrait.

Check out the Toby's 'Jumble Sale' part at the bottom of the page.

Photography by Ali Jassim, Sam Roberts, Toby Shaw & Ollie Curtis.