So, I’ve been thinking recently about my situation. Not my in a mystic or profound sense, but about my physical location. Central London. Not a great deal of outdoor playgrounds, no mountains, no waves, no rock faces and certainly no snow. Leaves me kinda short on things to shoot no?
Well, of course not. What I enjoy shooting are those moments when people put the daily grind behind them, let all else fade away and assign 100% of their focus and attention on the here and now. Moments when people choose to push themselves and explore their limits. I want to capture and represent those moments, to show someone at the pinnacle of their game (Athough sometimes I’ll settle for a pretty landscape with someone in a brightly coloured top in the middle of it) The point is, people do this everyday, everywhere, not just out in the hills but in the urban playground too. So, this winter I’m heading ‘Into The City’.
Kinda feel like that should have had a fanfare.
BMX, skate, and parkour are the obvious choices but I’ll see what else turns up as well. Now, here are the first couple of challenges….
Understanding a sport well enough to shot something meaningful. What do I mean by meaningful? Well, in mountain biking no one is interested in a picture of a wheelie (unless its some epic power wheelie blasting out of the start hut of the World Championships final.) and in skating, I doubt an ollie is a worthy subject either (Unless its down a monumental stair set, as a linking move in some jaw dropping sequence) There is definitely a case to made for bringing your own style and vision to capturing a sport, but an appreciation for the difficulty of a move and its respect by its participants is also essential. As skate photog’s say “Where’s the coping?”
A week or so ago I arranged to shoot with a parkour crew. Totally new for me, other than knowing its trendy, I couldn’t name any particular move, nor really understand the difference between it’s ‘wheelie’ and its ‘World Cup power wheelie’. (Ok so maybe the analogy hasn’t worked so well).
- Flickr: An hour or so browsing through Flickr with some obvious search terms helps to get a feel for the images which a)I liked and b) were rated highly by others. In doing so it starts to build a sense of what is important in this sport and, helpfully, gives a scattering of useful terms too, such as Cat Balance (?)
- Dedicated media: Spending some time to find a couple of e-zines (Like this or this) and flick through those to see what kind of images manufacturers use to promote their stuff, seeing what sponsored athletes are pictured doing is a great way to see what is considered the current edge of the sport, or at least what is trendy, styled and well respected.
- The people in front of the lens: After the initial awkwardness and tentative test shots to get exposures dialled a few rounds of ‘shoot n show’ is really valuable. Listening carefully to responses and degree of “yo that’s sick!” helps guide what is considered worthy, what is considered meaningful and important. In this case, it turns out its the landing style that was considered important; legs straight, arms back, looking to nail balls of the feet on the edge of whatever you’re trying to hit.
So, the selection of shots in this post are an initial take on ‘Into The City’. They’re a combination of shots which were well received by the guys I was shooting with, and my picks which lean more to setting context and scale, such as above and below.
Next up…. skate shoot in Nottingham.