Looking back over the years, it’s kind of crazy how things happen. I was probably around 14 or 15 the first time I met Sandy Carson. It was at an Etnies Demo if I remember right. After that I some how ended up emailing him and to my surprise he responded and was always really friendly to this random kid for reasons I never understood. Over the years, I’ve stayed in touch with Sandy for different things and it’s always awesome catching up with him since he’s always getting into something completely different and unique whether it’s bikes, photos or music. It had been a little while since I hit him up and figured with the release of his revamped portfolio website, SandyCarson.com, a little while back that it would be a good time to see if he would be up for answering a few questions and sending through some photos for you to check out. Let’s see what he had to say, then check out a quick Photogallery…
Name: Sandy Carson
Location: Austin TX
Years riding: 36
Years shooting photos: 23
What was it that first caught your attention with BMX?
Bright coloured bikes of the 1980’s with mag wheels, that lasted longer than 10 speeds when you jumped off ramps to flat!
What about with photography?
Capturing said moments of jumping off ramps to flat and punk rockers making a racket.
First camera: Minolta x300
What’s your current setup?
Film cameras- Tachihara 4×5, Hasselblad 501 cm, Nikon f100, Yashica t5, Olympus Penn E Half frame
Digital Cameras- Nikon D700, Canon S95, Apple Iphone
Are there any new cameras on your wish list these days?
I’d like to get a Nikon D800 and get back into filming. Also would love a Leica M6. That’s it a reckon… for now!
Don’t worry… It’s a mannequin.. I checked.
Over the years your work has appeared in pretty much every BMX magazine and a number of publications outside of BMX. Where are you contributing most of your work these days?
I don’t get to shoot as much BMX content as I’d like to these days, but what I do shoot, goes in The Albion, Ride BMX and online at ESPN BMX. My non-BMX editorial recently has been featured in The Huffington Post, Spin Magazine, NME, Texas Observer, The Austin Chronicle and with the photo agencies I work with. It’s kinda all over the place when you freelance.
I know you are always working on different projects in and outside of BMX. What are some of the current projects you are working on?
I currently have a few of ongoing projects I’m working on to some degree. One of which is a documentary on TNR (trap, neuter, release) of feral cats and population control within Central Texas and another is the domestication of urban coyotes and human encroachment of their territory.
Over the years you have been showcased in a ton of different galleries. Do you have any new ones coming up that people will be able to check out?
My next show is in the fall at The Center Space Gallery, in the University of Texas Visual Arts Center.
Your book “Paradise Has Relocated” came out a little over a year now. How was the reaction to it? Do you have any plans of doing another book in the future?
It got some decent feedback and sold quite a lot surprisingly. I’m hoping to get working on an all Black & White street photography book and a BMX book in 2013.
Now that 2012 is well underway, do you have any particular goals or plans for the year that you would like to accomplish?
Yeah, I kinda have a checklist for the year. Just got my new website done. That was a huge undertaking. I’m turning 40 in 2 weeks and to celebrate, I’m riding my bike from Seattle to San Francisco with Taj, Seth Holton and Nick Coombes. The trip is raising money for the Austin Humane Society also. You can donate here- AustinHumaneSociet.org.
We are also wrapping up the new IGLOMAT record as we speak and should be out next month too. Other than that, just going at it with Fairdale and hoping to help get more kids on big bikes!
Photo: Joe Rich
Over the years you have had the opportunity to shoot with large number of pros. Who are a few of your favorite to work with?
Josh Stricker, Sean Burns, Butcher, Taj, Joe Rich, Paul Buchanan, Jimmy LeVan, Ruben Alcantara, Seth Holton, Ryan Worcestor and Danny MacAskill.
Are there any that you never got the chance, but would have liked to or would like to still at some point?
I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to shoot with all the nutters I’ve already encountered on the BMX journey and I’m sure there will be more opportunities. The ones I missed out on, I was too young but I still love looking at their photos, the ones that got me inspired as a wee nipper.
Let’s say you could take a trip anywhere in the world to shoot with 5 riders. These riders can be past or present, in their prime or at their current status. Who do you bring, where do you go and why?
To be honest, I’ve already done some of the most memorable and epic trips around the world with a handful of riders that I can’t believe happened. I’m ready for the next chapter of doing the same with big bikes, or any bikes for that matter. This next trip from Seattle to San Francisco is with 4 of my best mates through the most epic scenery in western America, does that count?
That work for me! What else have you been up to when you aren’t shooting these days? Do you have anything outside of photography and BMX that you are pretty into?
There’s not a day goes by that I’m not shooting for fun or for work, or riding some sort of bike. I got really into road bike riding and mountain biking as well, so even more bikes to play with. Out with that, whenever I have time, I really enjoy cooking, making and playing music with Iglomat.
Do you still find much time to ride these days? Where can you usually be found for a session?
Yes, every day. On the road, or the trails.
I know you have been calling Austin home for quite some time now. Do you have any plans of spending some extended time anywhere else around the world?
I wish I could spend more time in the Pacific Northwest. I go every summer and swear I’m going to move there. Seattle has every activity to get into within an hour, mountains, ocean, trails, riding, snow. Pretty dialled.
What’s something about yourself that might surprise people?
I run my brake lever on the left hand side.
Photo: Joe Rich
It seems like these days everybody wants to be a photographer. What kind of advice do you have for the people looking to get into it?
Everyone IS a photographer these days, aren’t they? They have Iphones. Ha. My advice would be, if you really want to learn photography, you should pick up a film camera and learn the basics first.
Do you think you would have developed into the photographer you are today without BMX?
Probably not. The bike has always been a compass and catalyst for me. As cheesy and cliché as it sounds. It helped open my eyes to a unique subculture that allowed expression, and the camera was right there to document it all. I was able to travel and even emigrate because of it. It helped me find my eyes as a photographer. You will also never look at a piece of architecture again, without thinking of photo compositions or what move could go down.
After all these years, what is it about bikes and photography that keeps you going with it?
They are still fun and I’m grateful to still get along with them.
Do you have any shout outs or thanks?
Yeah, thanks to my family in Scotland, and Team Sano, my extended family in Austin and the States. Thanks to Taj at Fairdale for sponsoring a 40 year old, and thanks for the interview Kurt!
Anything else you want to say?
Stop reading this and go outside.
Now, check out this PHOTOGALLERY with some of Sandy’s work behind and in front of the camera.