According to DIG MAGAzine (hey where are the rest?)
This is all about opinions. There’s no right or wrong, there’s no best or worst. It’s simply our take on a select collection of individuals whose photographic work, in our opinion, has had the most influence within our world over the past 35 years. Whether it’s been inspiring others photographers, covering influential scenes, shooting for the most progressive companies, unearthing the next generation of riders, or already being on another level with their work when things in BMX ‘freestyle’ were only getting started; then right or wrong, better or worse, their influence is definitely undeniable. Enjoy.
There aren’t many out there in BMX media land who have managed to pull off the combined roles of editor/photographer over the years, but major respect is due to those who have. If we had a slightly longer list then a select group of other guys would undoubtedly be on here snapping at the heels of this guy. In the meantime consider Mark Losey to be lifting the 10th place trophy on their behalf. He led, and they followed.
Photo by Brad Lusky
Where was your first photo published? I had a bunch of stuff in places like the NBL paper, but the first magazine photo was in ‘90 or ‘91 when I was living in Florida (I was 20 or 21). It was a photo of Rob Nolli doing a wallride over Aaron Behnke and Steve Parks in Go. I sent them an 11” x 14” print. I think it ran two inches wide in the letters section. I was so stoked.
Tell us a little about your history with BMX Plus! and Ride US. I got a phone call in the fall of ‘92 from John Ker at BMX Plus! I was 100% sure it was Dave Brumlow prank calling me. When I finally did an actual phone interview, I never even asked about money. I just asked if I could go to all the BS comps – that’s all I cared about. I worked at Plus! from ‘92-’98 as Photographer and Associate Editor with Mike Daily. In early ‘98, Brad asked me to take over Ride as Editor/Photographer. I was there from ‘98-’05.
What are your memories from that infamous cover shoot with Voelker? We were doing a gatefold for the 50th issue (of Ride US) and we wanted Dave on the cover. I asked him to think of something cool, it just had to be on the left-side of the frame. I knew he’d come up with something rad. I met Dave and Mike Parenti in a parking lot where Dave pointed up a mountain and said, “See that rock up there? I’m gonna abubaca it.” We hiked up the hill to where he and Parenti had built a lip next to the rock. It took Dave a few tries, but he pulled the rollback perfectly. At one point the lip was crumbling so we had to take turns pissing on it for moisture. Later I noticed Parenti packing it with his hands. Now that’s a real friend.
So, going way back, who originally inspired you to shoot? Spike, Windy, and Oz were the ones that really got me hooked. The only reason I first got a camera was because my friends and I wanted to make a ‘zine and we needed photos.
Dave Voelker and that infamous Ride US issue 50 cover shot. Photo by Mark Losey
How important has photography been to BMX do you think? Hugely important. It was the only way to see what was really going on when I was growing up riding. I was in the Midwest, but the photos transported you around the world. It sounds so corny but the photos meant so much to me. I can still rattle off stats about who-shot-what in the ‘80s. Even now with the proliferation of video, a photo captures so much about the trick, rider, time, etc. There’s often only a split-second where the trick, lighting, and composition look their best. It’s addictive when all the stars align.
In your honest opinion, what makes a good photo? It’s honestly difficult for me to put into words. Sometimes it’s the craziest trick. Sometimes it’s something that you simply feel when you see it. Sometimes it’s something funny. I always remind myself that the riders have the hard part. If they’re going to throw themselves down something gnarly, you owe it to them to shoot it the best you possibly can.
“Mark Losey was the first photographer I ever met, the first I shot photos with, and the guy who took my first ever magazine photo. When I wanted to buy a camera he was the guy I went to ask, and once I’d started shooting he was even cool with me going into his office at RideBMX to show him my slides. Never in a million years would I think the editor of a huge magazine would let some random 17 year old kid wander in and ask for free advice. I couldn’t see myself being into photography the way I am if it wasn’t for Mark Losey.” – Joey Cobbs / Photographer
One of the old emails I received from him was signed Christopher Daniel Hallman the last, but he’s normally referred to as Chris, Hallman, Challman, or in certain circles, the Dude. I can’t remember exactly when we first met but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say it was in Shimerville Skatepark in Emmaus, PA. Despite the insanely high levels of riding I witnessed there, Chris still managed to stand out. At the time I had no idea the skills he had on a bike were also an indication of his skills behind a camera, or wherever else he decided to put his mind. You see, it turns out that Chris is one of those multi-talented people that makes things look easy. Not to try to play down the hard work he’s undoubtedly put in, it’s just that there’s no question in my mind that if something caught his interest, he’d master it in no time but look like he’d been doing it his whole life.
The black cloud of injuries seemed to follow him around for a while and maybe that played a part in his development as a photographer and designer. Either way, in the mid 90’s his path led to him starting up Tread Magazine with the Props guys. Already held in high regard as a photographer, his new job saw him undertake the positions of principal writer and designer (as well as photographer) and unsurprisingly grow in all these areas. Unfortunately, Tread was short-lived and only four issues were produced, yet they stand as a testament to his ability to adapt and excel in difficult situations.
From there he spent six years at Woodward as their photographer and advertising designer, built a miniature wooden bowl to shoot product photos in and called Binghamton, NY home as he worked as FBM’s photographer and in-house designer, traveled around South America in a quest to improve his Spanish, washed windows for a living in Austin, TX, among countless other jobs and adventures. He is currently living a happy and contented family life near Catskill State Park in NY.
It’s interesting to think what shape BMX would be in if his photography had taken him elsewhere. His enthusiasm for nature and wildlife could so easily have resulted in a career in the ‘real’ world, far from little kid’s bikes. National Geographic’s loss was definitely BMX’s gain!
Everyone has a story, but if the old creepy looking guy killing your local trails or skatepark happens to be Christopher Daniel Hallman the last, then his story is one that helped put BMX in a far better place. — Edward James Docherty, the first and last.
Kelly Baker and a ghetto winter spot on the 2nd floor of a barn. Shot during the winter or 03/04 while Hallman was working at FBM, dialing in a catalog, and compiling team rider photos. Hallzeye perspective. Straight badass. – Photo by Chris Hallman