You never forget which creaky step to skip as you sneak downstairs. You never stop pretending the floor is lava or hopping from one paving slab to the next as you mind the gaps. You’re still carefully dodging those bits in between, afraid to put a foot wrong. We all are. Balancing his whole world between two feet firmly planted on the deck of his skateboard, Jackson Rhodes avoids the cracks in the road, carving out his own smooth pathway that swerves the bad stuff. As he skims through the West Coast sounds of San Francisco, Jackson becomes himself by himself. Solitude in the streets. 

More and more we are pressuring ourselves to become part of a squad and follow in the footsteps of a clique, but photographer Amber McKee has created a personal portrait series that rekindles individuality in identity. Jackson (JE Models) is at home in San Fran; Amber’s lens follows him through his childhood playground, capturing the comfort that familiarity offers and catching the carefree bloom that bounces off his cheeks and gets tangled up in his long bronze mane. Merrielle Italia tames hair and make-up with natural ease, but the long-limbed model relaxes in his own clothes. Unstyled, this is no-one's ride but Jackson’s.

Walk with the surety that you like something because you like it. Don’t lose your footing, don’t lose yourself in the crowd. Amber describes Jackson as “unafraid” – her striking images inspire the same calm confidence it takes stand out as yourself, the initial courage to kick, push. Just as Jackson weaves through the zigzag tracks of Northern California, we skim down our own streets, sidestepping the lines in the pavement. It’s nice to know that we are not the only ones, that we are kept stable by a hand held tight.

Words by Jonny Clowes. 

West Coast Tracks