Who hasn’t dreamed of being a cool skater girl at least once in their life? Skateboarder and skateboard lifestyle photographer Charlotte Thomas has recently released the coffee table book Concrete Girls documenting the British female skateboarding scene. So if you can’t skate yourself, you can at least get some insight into the fascinating lifestyle. We chatted to Charlotte to find out what it’s all about and how skating is empowering girls around the world…
When did you first get into skating?
I started skating when I was 16 in my hometown of Hereford, just through my friends really. But I didn’t really come into my own until I was 19 and started university in Leeds. I spent most of my days at Hyde Skate Park, where I met some of the greatest dudes in the world who made me a skateboarder.
You got injured skating and had to take some time out – what advice would you give people whose circumstances mean they have to take a step back from their passion?
Don’t let it get you down, things in life are meant to change. Look for ways to keep in touch with your passion but approach it from a different angle. For example, if you can’t be a dancer anymore, you could start teaching dance. Or for many sports you can become a photographer, TV presenter, journalist… there is so much scope out there.
How did you get into photography?
Photography has always been part of my life since an early age. I really enjoyed using old Polaroid cameras and the disposable ones you got from Boots! It wasn’t until I moved to London and started working in fashion that I realised this is what I’d like to do for a living. Skateboard photography started as a full-time venture in 2013. I’d always taken pictures of skateboarding but that was just to capture memories of my friends. My injury meant I wasn’t able to skate as much as I’d liked to, so to stay in the scene and still be a part of skateboarding I started using the sport as a subject. I wouldn’t call myself a “skateboard photographer”; I’m more of a “ skateboard lifestyle photographer”.
What’s your photography process?
I want to show the culture in the most natural way I can. I love capturing the smiles, the day as it unfolds, skateboarding as a lifestyle as well as strong skateboard photos. I’m lucky because the UK scene is full of wonderfully different personalities, styles and beautiful faces – the women in the scene make it very easy for me.
What do you hope to show and achieve with your photography?
I want to show the British female skateboard scene as it is, and put us in front of the world. I’m collecting memories so we can all look back in the future and show our grandchildren how cool we were. And still are! I plan on being a silver-haired skater one day.
What advice would you give young girls wanting to learn how to skate?
It’s the best thing I’ve ever done – I would recommend it to any woman of any age. Skateboarding has taught me to be myself, push hard, commit, express myself, build friendships and see the world! Grab a skateboard and go skating. Be patient as its does take time to learn but its worth it! Everyone is welcome, so come join the family!
What is the biggest stereotype about female skateboarders you’d like to break?
One thing I’d like to stop is the cruel comments left on my friends Instagram accounts, usually commenting on their appearance or being sexualised in some way because of the way they dress. Skateboarding is just skateboarding – men and women, there is no difference and we all skate together. We’re one family!
With the release of your new book and Crystal Moselle’s movie Skate Kitchen currently showing skater girls in a new way, have you noticed a change in the scene recently?
Yes, its getting bigger and bigger and I’m seeing girls on Instagram who are absolutely killing it! Plus internationally girls are getting together to go on skate trips and are encouraging each other off and online. It’s just a great place to be right now. We are the new punks and I am honoured to be a part of it.