081: Nick Hamilton/The Golden Cage

Nick Hamilton, Cardiff, April 2019. Photo: Tozer

“Paying for media today is a lifestyle choice. It’s like buying vinyl.”

I go way, way back with legendary snowboard photographer and Transworld lifer Nick Hamilton. We first met in the mid-90s, and subsequently spent a glorious 6 year period putting together Whitelines magazine as part of a team that included friends and colleagues such as Ed Leigh, Chris Moran and Tudor ‘Chod’ Thomas.

Photo: Tozer

Nick was always destined for greater things, and it was no surprise when in 2001 he was headhunted by Transworld Snowboarding, subsequently moving to Cali to work first as Photo Editor and then as Content Director. His old friends, myself among them, watched on proudly as his career flourished, overseeing Transworld’s expansion into the digital realm, stewarding the most famous title in snowboarding to ever greater heights and becoming one of the most well connected and respected people in the industry.

In conversation, April 2019. Photo: Owen

As a photographer, Nick is rightly legendary. And the story of how he carved out one of the most enviable and influential careers in the industry is equally enthralling. There’s also nobody better to pass comment on the state of modern action sports media.

Self-portrait, 2019.

In this conversation, recorded at Nick’s Cardiff home in April 2019, we delve into the entire story. It’s an epic that takes in Nick’s own extraordinary tale, but also traces the evolution and changing of the media landscape, an ongoing upheaval at which Nick has witnessed first hand. We also dig deep into the recent developments that have seen Transworld shuttered permanently in the wake of a much-publicised takeover by American Media and which has seen Nick finally end his association with the title after almost two decades. In making this show, I’ve been lucky enough to interview some of the biggest names on the planet. But there’s something special about grabbing a couple of beers and sitting down with one of my oldest friends to reminisce about old times and their own extraordinary career. Hope you enjoy the episode. Listen to it by clicking below.

Show Notes

  • Two years later.
  • Transworld Snowboarding: “really sucks that it’s going away”.
  • Being bought by American Media on 1st Feb.
  • The abrupt news for subscribers.
  • His role as Content Director across whole group.
  • Working on three movies last year: The Future Of Yesterday, Kamikazu, Rewind Salt Lake City
  • Print titles are the shop window for action sports.
  • “Make every issue like it’s your last”.
  • The tangible nature of print.
  • Joining Transworld Snowboarding in 2002.
  • Transworld Snowboarding working with Bonnier Group – which provided an influential digital push for publication.
  • Print titles embracing digital through film.
  • Transworld Snowboarding going through four different ownerships.
  • Being sold to competitor: join forces instead of competing
  • Onboard and Whitelines working together.
  • Trying to sell the company for 9 months.
  • Why media and marketing teams take the hit in changing industries.
  • Rider’s Poll Awards 2018.
  • Less resources and doing more each year.
  • Working with Kazu Kokubo and seeing him develop.
  • Working with Halldór Helgason on Arcadia and Future of Yesterday.
  • Eric Jackson’s ‘Alignment’ project.
  • The revenue models of the media.
  • Blurring the lines between advertising and subscription models.
  • The role of branded content.
  • Working at Whitelines.
  • The “brutal” job cuts he saw when joining in Transworld Snowboarding in 2002.
  • The Forbes article stating that there were no Transworld Media layoffs during the American Media acquisition.
  • David Pecker in the ‘dick pic’ news with Jeff Bezos.
  • Why Nick felt hopeful during the changes.
  • Nick feeling excited to “move on to do something new”.
  • Initial plan was just to work in California for two years – it’s now been 17 years.
  • The Golden Cage.
  • How the snowboarding community saw Transworld Snowaboarding as “a guiding voice”.
  • Building a global audience.
  • Snowboarder is still alive.
  • “Seasonality of snow” affected the industry’s cash flow.
  • Brands and riders reach their own audience now.
  • Why certain journalism will survive.
  • Nick’s next personal projects in photography.
  • The need for experience in media, brand, and agency work.
  • The new opportunities in the media’s void.
  • What to do with archived content.
  • Making content free.
  • Revisiting the past to know what to do next
  • First shooting: Nicks’ Finnish friends in Stryn in the early 90s.
  • Jon Foster’s shot of Jamie Lynn in 1994.
  • Shooting at competitions is like “a wildlife safari”.
  • His life in London.
  • Hanging out at The Snowboard Asylum and skating at Southbank.
  • His snowboarding seasons in the Alps.
  • Being held at gunpoint at a bank robbery aged 18 – which realigned his career and life ambitions.
  • Whitelines in its heydey.
  • The story of a blocked toilet.
  • Having a ‘boys snowboarding trip’ with his son in Red Mountain.
  • The Sascha Hamm interview with Whitelines.
  • Exploring new resorts.
  • Learning through skateboarding.
  • The Night Quarter issue.
  • Shooting on slide film.
  • Shooting for different magazines.
  • Scanners movement.
  • Sharing his old photos on social media.
  • The joys of not being polished on social media.
  • ‘The Descent of Man’ by Greyson Perry.

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