The city is full of surprises, and street sports are a great reminder that urban space can be full of play and creativity — sometimes completely unexpected, driven by people's desire to make a city their own. Photography is a fantastic way to capture the playful, sometimes anarchic means of engaging with the built environment.
I've been photographing parkour for more than 15 years, visiting cities around the world to document practitioners' alternative uses for public and private space. Parkour shows how people often interpret architecture in a way that is completely divorced from the intentions of the corporations and city planners who are preoccupied with functionality as opposed to creativity, and this can be found in many of the entries shown below.
This week's challenge, though clearly a little more niche than previous contests (hence only a top five rather than a top ten), has seen some incredibly diverse submissions, from the streets of Peru to abandoned land overlooking the English city of Sheffield.
5. Rostom Abdelbagi
Gorgeous late-afternoon light and minimalism makes for some strong shadows in this shot. Soccer barely needs a street, definitely doesn't need shoes, and is played the world over.
4. Pedro Pulido
35mm film and street photography have such a strong relationship, as conveyed here by Pulido. For me, creating physical permanence for such a fleeting moment gives this shot a slightly special feel. Football is a global language, played by kids on streets around the world, and given a local flavor here through the mention of Peru's famous Rainbow Mountain, made to seem a little less inviting through the use of monochrome and the closed shutter.
3. Lukas Biba
Urban slacklining and highlining have exploded in popularity in recent years, with festivals appearing all across Europe, especially in eastern capitals that are keen to bring in tourists and are less rigid when it comes to providing their iconic plazas and landmarks for something slightly different. A lot of street sports photography is about capturing eye-catching movement but also creating a strong sense of its context, and Biba does a great job here. It might sound weird, but the novelty of knowing that a human body has never occupied these spaces before and possibly never will again is exhilarating. Highlining is a truly unique way of experiencing a city, and the glee on the faces of the athletes and the unlikeliness of their bodies suspended in space is captured beautifully.
2. Richard Baybutt
Play can appear in some unexpected places, taking advantage of parts of the city (including those on the outskirts) that have become disused. Creativity often appears in the cracks of city planning, filling gaps and taking advantage of redundancy. Sports facilities are often funded by governments or local authorities, but many are grassroots projects, sometimes initiated without the necessary permissions and taking advantage of the blurred lines between public, private, and abandoned spaces. Sheffield's Ski Village burned down in 2012 and has sat disused ever since, creating opportunities for alternative uses.
1. Evan F Smith
For many hardcore skaters, purpose-built skateparks defy everything that skateboarding represents: a counter-culture that finds alternative uses for random parts of the city, bringing the familiar rumble of wheels on concrete and numerous encounters with security guards and angry property owners. Skateparks are controlled spaces that have none of this subversive potential, but bring two huge assets: accessibility and inclusivity. Sky, the ten-year-old girl in this shot from Evan F Smith, can't hang out in random parts of the city at night, grinding rails and tearing up parking lots. Instead, her domain is the skatepark, watched by her peers and, no doubt, by her parents.
For me, this shot shows the focus of the young athlete but also presents her in the context of one of the world's most iconic skate venues: Venice Beach, with a gaggle of fellow skaters looking on. The timing is perfect, the sponsor is visible without being in your face, and there's a touch of danger implied by the steep, unforgiving terrain.
What Is This Week's Theme and How Do I Enter?
We're going a bit more abstract for this week's challenge: teamwork. If there's one thing that the Fstoppers community has proven over the years, it's their ability to be creative. So, embrace the abstract, exploit the scope of the theme, and we look forward to seeing your entries.
To enter, simply use the hashtag #weeklyFstopTeamwork (capital letters are not necessary) on any public Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr post between now and our next weeklyFstop article. Please keep it to one entry per week to keep it fair and less cluttered.
Here are the previous week's results for anyone who may have missed them:
- Leading Lines
- Long Exposure
Remember, there is no guarantee posting a photo will result in it being featured. If you happened to submit but fell short, please don't be discouraged. Keep shooting and try to gain techniques or ideas from the photos that are selected. If anyone has any suggestions or ideas, feel free to contribute in the comments. We're always open to future theme suggestions. We hope you are all enjoying the themes as much as we are.