The empowered portrait

Nikon Z6:II, f5, 1/1000, ISO 2000, 100/70-300mm.

Nikon Z6:II f6.3 1/1000 ISO 2800 116/70-300mm

Nikon Z6:II, f5.6, 1/1000, ISO 600, 300/70-300mm

The assignment brief was to enable an individual to create their own portrait, resulting in three pix, one in their chosen environment, one closer and one close-up.

I am working with London’s parkour community for my project this term, working title ‘parkour portraits from London’s streets’. The overall project will obviously focus on several individuals but we were asked for this initial assignment to work with one person. My subject was Arthur, a young man who is passionate about parkour. For the photographs, he wanted them to illustrate the skill, fun and beauty of movement, which in parkour is intimately related to the environment, as well as the grounded integrity of the community, if ‘grounded’ is an appropriate word in this context!

The first shot shows a classic moment of movement in parkour, a leap caught mid-air between walls, being filmed while it happens by another member of the community.

The second shot shows a moment of vulnerability. Such moments are common to all parkour athletes, when possible injuries need to be inspected. I loved the way the afternoon sun was caught on the buildings behind in Archway, north London and how he chose a pretty high wall to sit on to examine his bruised feet. I hope further on to catch some of the powerful contrasts between the human vulnerability of parkour in the context of brutalist architecture that is so much a feature of London’s inner-city communities. This photo shows a little of this, in the beauty of the late afternoon sunlight.

The third, close-up portrait shot is taken during a casual moment when he is chatting to other members of the community while reflecting on the opportunities in the urban landscape to train.

In the process of empowering the subject of this and other photographs for the project, it became clear that as much as possible I should blend in the ‘background’ in the sense of not attempting to set up moves or shots, and not get in the way of jumping or running routes. In that sense, shooting parkour is very much like the street photography genre – trying to capture the ‘decisive moment’, even lying in wait for it for as long as it takes, but absolutely not trying to ‘set it up’ myself.

Above is a selection of a few more photos from the last two parkour shoots.

Published by Placement

Journalist, photographer, mum.

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WILD WORDS

By Kelly Hargie

Alan Franks

Writer, Musician

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