Black Spell takes its inspiration from board sports culture and the arts. As part of an ongoing ‘Community Feature’ series here at blackspell.co.uk, we’re going to highlight some of the other creatives we have the pleasure of working along side. This is your chance to get to know a little more about the people and processes behind the art; the riders, artists, photographers, makers, creators and collaborators.
Chances are, you are already familiar with Concrete Ocean’s seascapes; seen his phenomenal shots of the infamous Nazare online, or you may have noticed Black Spell tagging @concrete_ocean_ in our team rider surf shots. We spoke to Ade (Concrete Ocean) earlier this week to see what makes him tick.
Concrete Ocean – Photographer
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Ade Bagley. Im a normal enough guy (I think). I spent most of my youth playing guitar in hardcore bands around the Birmingham area then 20 years ago I moved to Cornwall. Hence ‘Concrete Ocean’ – it’s my life story in two words.
How long have you been shooting?
I used my Dad’s Practica SLR as a kid. There were no auto functions back then so it was a good way to learn until I dropped it at the beach while on cub camp in Weston-super-Mare. It never properly worked after that day. A few years later I still had the bug so I studied traditional photography techniques at Collage and then Uni but I left it all behind for a career working with and for the Ocean. I have always carried a camera around but only started shooting with a purpose in the last 4 years.
Who’s work are you influenced by?
I get influence and inspiration from all sorts of places and people. Mainly those who are simply passionate about what they do. Simon Shields [Surf team rider for Black Spell] is a good example, a truly great guy to be around with such focus and positivity. Photography wise it started off with the guys that documented the late 90s skate scene as I was growing up like Mike Blabac. Definitely a lot of old war photojournalists showed me how powerful the camera could be, but as far as ocean photography goes Mickey Smith’s images constantly inspire me and blow my mind.
What’s your favourite thing to shoot?
Waves,waves waves. All waves, small ones, big ones, bigger than a multi-storey car park ones, weird ones, you name it, if its water with shape I’m interested. I loose myself in the hypnotic power of the Ocean and it makes me feel alive.
What equipment do you use?
I used a fairly middle of the range Nikon until last December when it just keeled over and died on me in the middle of storm Atiyah. I didn’t feel as bad taking a cheaper model into crazy stormy conditions. Cameras have come such a long way recently so I’ve been playing about with everything from my partners Fuji to the Sony Alpha range, they are all weather sealed now so no matter which model I settle on I hopefully wont kill anymore. As for lenses, the new Sigma’s are the absolute bomb and do exactly what they say on the tin.
Which piece of equipment could you not live without?
My monopod! Holding a big DSLR with a long lens steady for several hours sometimes in Cornish storms or knee deep in the Atlantic wouldn’t be possible without it. Its rusty, its covered in several layers of stickers and it squeaks like an injured animal in great pain every time I adjust it, yet even if I’m walking round the supermarket without it I feel a little lost.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photos?
Confidence. I didn’t think I was or could be good enough to produce images I myself was proud of but thanks to a couple of key people encouraging me and many many hours of just being out there doing it the rest has started to follow. If you had told me a year ago that The daily Telegraph would say great things about an exhibition I had in little old Padstow or that my work would be published and sold I would have considered you a little bonkers.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into photography?
Go out and shoot!!! It doesn’t matter what camera you have or where you are just do it until it becomes second nature. You don’t have to live by the Ocean. If you’re on a crowded bus full of grumpy people in the rain that’s just as important and as interesting as what I’m doing. Find your passion and run with it until your feet bleed.
What’s your favourite photo you have ever taken?
This one is more about feeling than anything else. It was my first ever morning at the legendary big wave spot Nazare in Portugal. I had just set up my equipment in the dark and cold. I was so excited I had arrived at Praia do Norte even before the organisers of the comp had rocked up and as the sun was just peeping over the cliffs I got my first dose of real ocean power. Pierre Rollet and Julian Reichman were slingshotting each other into some perfectly lit mountains of water and I realised I had found the one thing alongside my family that gives me true happiness.
Where can we see more of your photos?
I have a website and mainly use my instagram as more up to date ‘Modern’ scrap book. I’ve also started to make a few little videos on youtube which you can check out too!