Not one for watching puddles gather rain, Jerry Alvarado makes a front shove look pretty plain.
Two summers ago, I made a contact at Thrasher Magazine. It was just an email to one of their long-time staff photographers, but it was an in, and I felt like I had found a secret passage to the holy grail. The first photo I ever sent him was a sequence of Levi Faust. To my surprise, he wrote back to me and was actually stoked on the sequence. He told me to send him eight or nine really good ones and he would help push for five of them to be posted on the Thrasher website. It wouldn’t pay anything, but it was exposure. Being the ambitious photo geek that I am, I started shooting as much as I could, sending him all the best sequences I shot. That summer turned into one of the most productive skate summers I’ve ever had—going out almost every day, sometimes with caravans of three cars packed 12 deep. As the weeks went by, the best of the best were hidden away and sent to Thrasher. Eight sequences turned into 12, which turned into 15, but nothing ever seemed to make the cut. They wanted big names like Adam Dyet and Lizard King. It was understandable, but Dyet doesn’t live here and Lizard is like a ghost—catching an SLC session with him is like finding a $20 bill on the ground. It stokes you out all day, but it just doesn’t happen very often.
The day I shot a sequence of Tyson Bowerbank, I thought I had hit my ticket. I sent it in and a couple weeks later, when Bowerbank turned Am for Darkstar, I got an email back saying I should try and sell it to Darkstar for an ad—if they didn’t want it, he would push for it to run in the magazine. I was ecstatic, the thought of actually selling a photo and seeing it in the glossy pages of Thrasher was everything I’ve always worked toward. Sadly, it never panned out. Bowerbank did it a second time with another photographer, and even though I got my sequence to Darkstar first, they still bought the other one. The only consolation I got was an email that said, “I saw the ad, your sequence was better.” A nice pat on the back, but still, nobody ever got to see my shots. Weeks turned to months, and winter was just around the corner when an email came to me with eight sequence shots picked out and a message saying to send in each frame as a jpg in their own file with my name, the skater’s name and trick.
Finally, I thought, after eight months of sending shots in, the sequence was actually going to run.
A few more weeks went by, but I never heard anything back and never saw anything go up. I sent another email asking what was happening, and the reply was short: “The mag is getting pretty picky these days.”
In other words, not happening—and I knew exactly why: not because the skating wasn’t good enough, but because all the skaters were just “no name” local Salt Lake kids. After that, I stopped sending things in. Not because the ambition had died, but because I realized it was a futile effort. If you’re not Reynolds or Rieder, then your photos aren’t getting run. But what about the skating? Some of the best skating that has ever gone down in Salt Lake was just sitting on my hard drive. Nobody, aside from myself and a few friends, had ever seen the photos. These shots still had value. They were progressive and should be seen. If they never go out, the skater never gets recognition and the bar never rises. So after two summers of collecting digital dust on my hard drive, I have finally picked out my five favorites. The ones that should have been seen and would have if only the last names read Busenitz, Huston, Cole, Van Engelen and O’Neal instead of Bowerbank, Hadley, Alvarado, Murdock and Hogan.