Photographer Olly Burn Captures The Life & Culture of Pop-Up Skate Park in South East London [@OllyBurn]

Olly Burn

The skatepark popped up in an abandoned pub car park during the lockdown.

Olly Burn
Photography by Olly Burn. Location @thegrovediy
Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m Olly Burn, a photographer from London. I like to approach my projects with a reportage style and work as unobtrusively as possible, documenting the relationships between people and the places where I find them. This project centers on a DIY skatepark close to where I live in South East London, the crew responsible for creating it, and the skaters that make use of the space.

What inspired you to do what you do?

I’m always on the lookout for unique connections between people and places to document. The skatepark popped up in an abandoned pub car park during the lockdown. I spotted it as I was driving past and decided to go back with a camera early one morning when I was struggling to sleep. Over the space of a few weeks, it became a real community. There was a spirit to the skatepark and its creators that really captured the small positives to be taken from this unusual year. It encapsulated the togetherness and resourcefulness brought about by lockdown, and an ambition to create and flourish against adversity.

Olly Burn
Photography by Olly Burn. Location @thegrovediy
What was the biggest challenge when creating this photo series? 

To be totally honest the process was just really enjoyable. Every time I went back to the park there was something new to see or a different vibe to explore. This was entirely down to the skaters (shoutout SE15 SK8 Crew), their passion to share their project and eagerness to be involved in mine. Everybody I met was open and interested, and most of all buzzing about the space.

What are some of the highlights/successes you’ve had in your career most recently?

I’ve been really fortunate so far in my career to work for some amazing clients and collaborate with incredible creatives. Just prior to lockdown I had a shoot for Nike in Shanghai. My photography was combined with insane artwork by I Love Dust and the campaign was plastered on billboards all over the city. That was a dream come true for me for sure.

Olly Burn
Photography by Olly Burn. Location @thegrovediy
How has Covid:19 affected you as a creative?

Lockdown meant that my commissioned work was suspended for a while. Despite the challenges that came with that, it was an opportunity to take some time out to reflect and refresh. Almost everything I photograph is oriented around people so rather than becoming creatively frustrated I forced myself to embrace the hiatus. As the restrictions began to lift I felt particularly re-energised to start shooting again.No one knows how the next few months are going to pan out, but the past few have made me more grateful than ever to be doing what I do for a living and appreciating the basic freedoms we often take for granted in everyday life.

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What’s next for you on your journey?

This year I’ve learned more than ever to take each day as it comes and make the most of opportunities as they arise. I’m always on the lookout for interesting or unique relationships between people and places, and this year has made circumstances especially distinctive and often poignant.

Olly Burn
Photography by Olly Burn. Location @thegrovediy

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