FORTE – JAMES WHINERAY

Knack is a regular feature that is designed to profile locals who are multi-talented and shine in and beyond the world of skateboarding. After featuring Flage last month, we couldn’t go much further than to profile Fremantle skateboarding and photographer extraordinaire James Whineray. James launched print tour de force Bilde Paper towards the end of 2016 and we talk to him regarding the role print has in a world dominated by the pixel.
photo above – street greenroom by josh roberts
all other photographs by chris luu for FVF

We first met at the shop over fifteen years ago! I recall that you were one of the most polite shop lurkers. I also remember you filming with a handy cam at Woolstores when you were in your early high school years. Were you also shooting stills during this era?
Ha ha. Yeah, I remember that well. I was shooting stills back then, I was really interested in things that impressed me. Somebody’s shoe collection for example. Or a large collection of empty beer bottles. Stupid stuff but in hindsight great pictures and I wish I archived it all a bit better.

When did you get your first film camera?
I found a lens for an old SLR on a bus when I was a kid, real young, maybe five or something. So my Dad bought the camera to match it and I think I first started using it when I was around 12. I was bought an Olympus MJU 2 by my grandfather when I was 14 and that was when it became a thing for me I guess. I still use the same type of camera today.

When did it become something you wanted to focus on?
I started taking photographs seriously on a trip to Europe in 2007. Travel always inspires one to document and collect their experiences but I had a bit more of an interested in the photography itself on that particular trip. I wanted to make pictures that were nice to look at not just a documentation of something I saw or did.

Did you have any local influences? Any friends that catalysed your interest in photography?
My friend Dangles (Dan Cahill) always had a camera when I was younger and I was really inspired by him. A lot of the party flash point and shoot photography that’s super hot at the moment. That sort of thing is pretty appealing to a kid. I was very impressed at how Dan always had his camera for that moment.

I have noticed you have worked on a very diverse array of freelance pieces for a number of different mags around the globe. How do you go about getting these stories? Do you throw pitches or do they find you?
Sometimes I pitch ideas and my girlfriend is a writer so she does a fair bit of pitching. I have been “working” in photography for a while now so most of my clients are repeat clients. Being in Perth helps a lot as there’s not a great deal of published photographers here. They tend to move east or abroad chasing the work which leaves me with a fair bit and I get to stay in the city I love most, Fremantle.

When did you decide you were going to do Bilde Paper?
Summer of 15, I was thinking it would be nice to make a skateboarding print publication focused around the photography and design aspects of print. It turned into more of an interview format in the end; which I am happy with.

How did you come up with the title?
There’s really not too much to it. A lot of people ask this and it’s honestly just a word I like the sound of. Bilde translates to image in some Germanic languages but that’s not why I chose it. I just like the sound of it. I feel it’s important to like the sound of a word and the title will mean what you want it to mean. Paper is paper because I didn’t want to call it a magazine and it’s not a book so this felt like a nice middle ground.

Were there any other hot favourites?
I almost went with Ugo but Keegan Walker quickly talked me out of it. In hindsight I’m glad. It’s also too similar to the Melbourne-based branded Uno from that crew of serious street rippers.

What made you commit to print in this era that seems to be so heavily based around a palm-sized screen?
That’s exactly what made me commit to print. I am a sucker for the phone. A lot of my work revolves around my phone so I don’t get many opportunities to see much stuff I’m actually interested on there at the end of the day. The print medium is a bit easier for me to pick up and actually absorb what I’m looking at or reading. Also, if Bilde is sitting on your shelf there’s a pretty good chance you will pull it out in 5 or maybe 10 years time. I can’t imagine myself going to someone’s Instagram to look at their work 10 years down the track. But maybe? It seems less disposable and more timeless.

What were the biggest challenges in starting the title?
Money unfortunately. That’s by far the hardest part. It’s a very expensive little project so its been tough getting it out there. I don’t want Bilde to be full of ads either which makes it much harder to fund it. It’s not that I have a thing against publications with ads, I like ads and thing they definitely have their place but it just didn’t seem right to have Bilde full of ads. Maybe that was a mistake?

If you were able to pick your magazine staff from four photographers (alive or dead) from any era who would they be?
Really like O’Meallys work, Ryan Gee’s early work was amazing. Same for Reda and maybe last one could go to Ari Marcopoulos, his photographs are timeless. I’m sure there are others but to be honest I’m not really to educated on the subject. All the old East Coast photography was pretty awesome. Old Flash work and hand printed c-type prints from Neg.

How did you get in touch with your star-studded cast for Vol 01?
Ha ha. I emailed most of them! People are quite willing to get involved in anything that is being printed I find. I feel if I had written to everyone and asked them to put in their hard work for a website or blog or something it may have been a different story. But who doesn’t like seeing their efforts on paper?!

Favourite spread in Volume One?
Favourite spread would be the photo of Harry Culy jumping the bar photographed by Sam Stephenson. So good. Favourite article is Takahiro Morita, great man. He was at the launch of Bilde in Tokyo which was a massive stoke.

Takahiro Morita on the cover of Vol 01

How often is the mag going to come out?
Bilde paper is going to hopefully be biannual. I am currently gathering content and securing funding for Vol 02 to be released in the first half 2017. Will let you know as soon as I do.

Can you give us any clues as to what will be in Vol 02?
It will be very similar to Vol 01 in terms of format and layout with some new ideas and topics on skateboarding. There’s going to be some big legends featured with some super cool ideas about skateboarding. I can’t give away too much!

I assume there has been enough time lapsed since the launch for the mag to get out to all the contributors, how has the feedback been?
Everyone seems very pleased with it, particularly the contributors. I think a lot of the people I contacted were expecting their work to show up in a little black and white xerox zine or something so they were quite surprised. But unfortunately, because I have launched this with no budget it has been real tough getting it out there and seen. Shipping 10 copies to a shop in the states cost more than the mags do themselves so its been tough getting it seen. I have a big magazine distributer based in Europe who’s got them in 100 book stores and newsagents across the world but unfortunately no skateshops. Its something to work on for Vol. 02.

 

After all you have learned in the past 12 months what advice would you give starting a print title?
Give it a go! It’s a lot easier than you might think. I thought it would be virtually impossible but with a fair bit of persistence it all came together and now its done. I think the biggest helping hand i’ve had is a great design team. My friends at Nude Design studio did all the layout and design which is probably the biggest part of making a nice looking magazine. It is a huge relief to not have to worry about it.

For a creative pursuit it is often important to have a consistent financial backbone, what do you do to fill in the gaps?
I work mostly as a photographer but I also have a few other small business’ I run on the side. I also live a frugal lifestyle.

Why do you think it is important do you think it is for your magazine to have local articles as well as international ones?
I’m not too caught up on the local articles thing. I would like to include as many locals as possible but I’m not considering by geographical positioning when gathering content. I really like the idea of an all local publication but not for Bilde. If you’ve got something I think fits its ok with me where its coming from.

How do you feel about skateboarding in 2017?
Stoked on it! I really like where its going. I fully embrace the big business street league thing going on and I think its super cool it’s becoming so mainstream. I also really like what all the filmmakers are doing with their videos and productions. It seems to be progressing more than ever. Can’t wait to see where skateboarding is going to be after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Thats crazy.

Who excites you on board and behind the lenses (both still and video)?
My favourite dudes are my crew here in Perth to be honest. Alex (Campbell), Ricky (Watt), Morgs when he’s around, Rowan White, Chris Luu, Eugene Stewart kills it. The whole Perth crew. Josh Roberts behind the lens of course, Yoan Taillandier, Chris Thiessen, Colin Read with Spirit Quest. All those VX dudes making some groovy videos that get me excited to skate.

stills from birrurung by josh roberts (click to watch)

 

Despite the apparent woes of the industry; skateboarding is everywhere at the moment but what elements are under-explored in the media?
I am really interested in the process behind someone’s work. It’s touched on a fair bit in the media but maybe not enough. I really like knowing how someone did something and why they did it. We are constantly seeing new videos and media coming out but not much about how and why, and that’s for anything to do with skateboarding – how was the skatepark built, who makes trucks, why did they decide to make their magazine like that? I find it all great reading.

bildepaper.com / @bilde_paper

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