I wish I could fly…
I spent a few days last month photographing some local high school kids who practice parkour, and produced video, stills and even wrote the story (photojournalists are no longer “just photographers.”). You can read the story and see the photos that published and the video here, and a sidebar on their training here. I started learning Final Cut when I sat down to edit this video, so I’ve still got a ways to go. Below are a couple of the photos that ran in the paper and a few outtakes (these are full-frame and barely toned). I would have been happy with any combination of the 20 or so photos that were in the final round of editing. Contact the team at email@example.com if you’re interested in joining.
It was the first time I really attempted video and stills at the same time, and may have not been the best story to start on — these guys move fast, and it was difficult to decide which medium to use. So, I ended up following them for an entire session with just video, and one session with just still cameras, after my initial session with both kinds of cameras.
One thing I don’t think I was able to capture was the flow of parkour. The group has a few places they go to practice specific tricks and techniques, but they also use whatever is in front of them as they run up the street (running along benches, for instance). I was usually behind them when they were running, trying to keep up. This is the best shot I have of them, all approaching this ramp in a different way.
I was drawn to this group because of how seriously they take their practice. Of course it’s a lot of fun, too, but they know their limits. In the sidebar on training, I explain that they practice at a local gym, on soft surfaces, before they try anything downtown. In the editing process, we had to be careful to consider our policy of not printing photos of illegal activity, and in this case, things that are pretty obviously dangerous. That’s why I thought the sidebar about their training was so important.
Some people might say that what they do is a nuisance (in fact, check out the comments on the story for a few different responses). Personally, I alternated between being amazed at what I was seeing and photographing, cringing when they took a landing hard (and hoping they didn’t get hurt while I was around), and then wanting to try it out myself.
They found and used the most direct routes — which frequently involved climbing up and through parking garages. I had to run all the way around, cameras banging against my hips.. their way seemed like more fun.