Tal Roberts Gallerie

Convince Him Otherwise: Tal Roberts’ Reluctant Dream

When I first met photographer Tal Roberts, he made his cash working construction, building McMansions for unknown millionaires in the Sawtooth Mountains. In the winter, he oversaw the halfpipe for Sun Valley Resort in Ketchum, ID, managing a crew of pipe rats. He’d receive calls from employees at 1 a.m., many along the lines of, “Tal, I’m not going to make it to work. I threw up in my shoes, and that was the only pair I own.”

Ketchum is a small town, and it’s not hard for newcomers to make friends. It was 2005, and I’d recently taken a job with Smith Optics as its lone in-house graphic designer. Tal had migrated east from his hometown of Gig Harbor, WA, from where he had commuted to work at Stevens Pass Ski Area. We met while spinning spring hot laps on Dollar Mountain, and became roommates a few months later.

I knew he had a Hasselblad medium-format film camera, but it was only as we became close that he let me in on his other world—photography. He had this box of black-and-white prints, skateboard rail tricks caught at the perfect moment, BMX shots with stories of being run off by cops, and portraits of friends or other skateboarders. All black and white. All stunning…

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