Her skateboard has long accompanied the Austrian photographer Sophie Köchert in one way or another. Now it automatically became the subject of her new series, which gives insights into a scene that turns the city into a playground and explores it with completely different eyes. So sit back and let yourself be taken on a journey on wheels across Vienna.
Sophie grew up at Lake Traunsee but moved to England at the age of ten, where she had her first contact with the skate scene. The skateboard helped her to make friends in a new school and to overcome the language barrier. At 17 she dropped out of school, worked as a snowboard instructor, and traveled for several years.
In 2012 she had to have an operation and therefore spent the summer back in Austria, where she took a two-week photography course at the summer academy of Eva Schlegel. The experience also led to the decision to study photography, which Sophie did at the Neue Schule für Fotografie in Berlin.
Sophie began her first analogue steps with the purchase of an old Minolta at the Vienna Neubaugassen flea market. While studying photography, she worked as a personal assistant for Vitali Gelwich, where she finally fell for analog photography
Since February, Sophie has been living in Vienna again, where skating became the subject of her new series all by itself - and she is especially interested in the girls, who are slowly but surely taking their place in the scene.
"It's super meditative to watch and a nice mixture of rough and soft. The fearlessness has always fascinated me, that's probably why I feel so connected."
It was quite by chance that Sophie got to know a skating group here in Vienna called the "Brettl Bande", which she photographed for this series. They try to create an environment, especially for girls, where you can learn to skate and spend time together:
Quoting Brettl Bande: "Brettl Bande was born out of a need for a community and out of the wish to create a space for womxn, queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming people to connect, share ideas and skate together. Whether it is their first time on a board or they have been skating for years. It takes a lot of courage and commitment to step on a skateboard. Skateboarding asks you to put yourself out there both mentally and physically. We’ve all started skating from zero and know what it feels like to be new to a skate spot. This feeling is especially heightened for womxn/LGTBQ+. Although nowadays we can see more womxn who skate and there’s a lot more media coverage, skating is still a cis male-dominated space. We learned from our personal experience that we needed each other. Not only to motivate and push each other to learn something new but also to take space together. Skateboarding is an individual activity, but we often learn collectively."
Sophie's tip for aspiring and full-blooded photographers:
"Get a camera, turn up the music, and just try it out. Get to know your city and find out what inspires you."