Issue 08 – out now 

“I had one of those ‘life’s too short’ moments and thought fuck it, I’m going to start a magazine!”
Graham Tait is a Scottish Photographer and Owner/Editor of North Skate Magazine. We asked him about his work, and his hometown.

Tell us a little about yourself, how did you get in contact with skateboarding and photography?

I was born and raised in Livingston which is just 20 miles away from Edinburgh in Scotland. It’s a ‘New Town’, which was built in the 70′s to accommodate the overspill from the bigger cities. There were a lot of these ‘New Town’s’ popping up all over he UK at the time.

There wasn’t much there at first, a shopping centre, a couple of schools, and just houses. Then out of nowhere they was a big outdoor concrete skatepark, a BMX track, exercise circuit, and a lot of open space. The skatepark was built in the early 80′s but I didn’t go there for the first time till around 88 or 89, and i was very young and didn’t really know what was going on. I had a toy skateboard and to me it was just a place to play. It wasn’t till the end of 1993 that I got a glimpse into what real skateboarding was. Livingston had an amazing skateboard scene for being such a small place. At the other end of the town there were a couple of small barns with a spine mini ramp and little street section, I had no idea they were there. I went along for the first time on a Friday night and i was blown away. I was in awe of the style, culture, and whole scene. I was 13 years old and I haven’t looked back since.

A few years later I took a photography class at High School. I’d never owed or even used a camera before but for reason I thought it would be cool. It was.

What kind of cameras did you use over the years?

I started taking photography more seriously went I hurt my back in 2005. I had a few photos published here and there previously that but it was still skating first, photography second. I was still shooting on 35mm film and all the pros had moved onto Medium Format. I found a good deal on a 6×6 Hasselblad and decided to upgrade and go for it. I’ve been rocking the same kit for 10 years now. I’ve always loved polaroids too, but that shit is expensive so i’m waiting for the right project to do more.

At what point did you think about starting northmagazine?

I had been contributing to a UK magazine called Document, but during he credit crunch it was dropped from it’s publishing house, which sucked. I was still shooting more than ever but didn’t know what to do with my photos. This would’ve been around 2009. Sidewalk was still the main magazine but with the influx of new photographers shooting digital i didn’t really see where i could fit in. I had some personal things happen and had one of those ‘life’s too short’ moments and thought fuck it, I’m going to start a magazine!

Why do you think it is to have a printed skate magazine nowadays, especially one that focusses on film photography?

For a photographer, nothing beats the feeling of having one of your photos printed in a magazine that you’re holding in your hands. I like to think that kids, even adults, still cut their favourite photos out of magazines and stick them to their walls. I did it, you did it, everyone of our generation and before did it. I love technology as much as the next guy, i’m definitely addicted to Instagram, but you can’t hang an ipad on your wall. Film photography is just my preferred medium. I see digital photos that I think are rad all the time. But I love the whole feel of film. The shooting, then waiting, then the relief that you didn’t mess it up! But most of all the hard copy. I’d be stressing if all my photos were on a hard drive.

STILL SHOOTING ON FILM – Patrick Kleiner / Koni Rutschmann/ Ollie

What is the advantage of distributing a free mag?

The main advantage for me is that more copies get out there. If a shop gets 50 copies of the magazine and they’re free, kids will be stoked and they’ll all get picked up. If i were to sell it, the shops would probably only sell 5 copies. I have two distributors in the USA (Theories & Quasi) and it’s a great feeling getting tagged on Instagram from shops in Buffalo NY or New Orleans. I’d rather give away more copies than try to sell a lesser amount.
What are your plans for the future of the magazine? Any plans for distributing in Germany?
I’m planning on going quarterly next year. So I need to get finger out and shoot more. I’d love to get more copies over to Europe, i’ll definitely be looking into it!

Thanks Graham for answering our questions. Go get your copy at:

Interview by Patrick Kleiner