Art

When moving to Manchester a few years ago, young Hungarian photographer Daniel Zalka used a 35mm camera as a pass into the local skate scene. Now, having completed his studies at the local art school, Daniel spends his days capturing all things skate.

With the local scene at the centre of his work, the photographer looks up to the likes of Ari Marcopoulos and Ed Templeton in order to creative visually diverse yet cohesive and honest representation of the daily life of his newfound community.

Here, we spoke with Daniel about the Manchester skate scene, his favourite spots in the city and what makes the place so appealing to his eye.

Undine Markus: When did you take up photography?
Daniel Zalka: So I took up photography quite a while ago, I took pictures since I was a teenager back in Hungary. When I came over I studied contemporary photography, then I kind of found my way into documentary and portrait photography. What I like about it is that I have an excuse to go out and chat to people and find different stories.

Undine: How did the idea for series come about?
Daniel: I’ve always been interested in youth culture and skateboarding. Skateboarding for me represents freedom and some sort of unity. It doesn’t matter which city you are in, the skateboarding community is always pretty similar – welcoming and friendly. I knew a few skaters near my campus, I just went out with them and took their portraits, hung out with them and tried to document their community.

Undine: What camera did you use to capture the stories?
Daniel: I always use what I have with me at the moment, for some of my portraits I used my Contax G2 with Ilford HP2, or my X-Pro1, Ricoh GR. I like to mix film and digital, I like them both. It really depends on my mood.

Photography by Daniel Zolka

Undine: How long did it take to complete the project?
Daniel: This project is still ongoing, I don’t think it will ever end. Maybe when I have enough photographs to publish a book or something. I’m a big fan of Ari Marcopoulos and Ed Templeton and they’re still shooting this subject.

Undine: What are the unique aspects of Manchester’s skate scene?
Daniel: What I find unique in the skate scene here in Manchester is that the skaters stick together. Everyone is friendly to each other and it looks like they all know each other, they are also very welcoming towards new faces. It’s also a Northern thing I guess, up here everyone is friendly.

Photography by Daniel Zolka

Undine: What’s your favourite spot in Manchester?
Daniel: I’d say Urbis, where all the locals meet up, it’s also good to watch them riding in Spinningfields or the Northern Quarter. There are a few ramps in Platt Fields Park, which again is a good spot if you want to meet new faces.

Undine: What’s next for you? Are you looking to branch out to other cities?
Daniel: I’d like to meet more faces, and work more on this project. Photograph everyone and everything, I find it really exciting. I definitely want to visit more cities and do the same while I’m there.

Follow Daniel on his website and Instagram.