In recent years, Mike Harrington has produced a strong body of photographs around the themes of various outdoor activities, from cycling to swimming. One such activity, which has been developing a growing reputation in the UK, is parkour. Parkour, in short, is traversing locations filled with obstacles – largely urban – using a combination of running, climbing and jumping.
The popularity of parkour in the UK began to rise after the broadcast of a film called Jump London (click here for some superb highlights from it), which showcased the skills of three French practitioners, Sebastien Foucan, Jerome Ben Aoues and Johann Vigroux as they ran around the city, astonishing passers-by and television viewers alike with their athleticism.
Mike’s shoot, for Canon, involved photographing three practitioners in urban locations in Norwich, including various streets and stairwells, as well as an underground car park. In addition to the communication of skill, the shoot aimed to convey the point that any location can be used, and so Mike chose locations which included elements of the mundane – bricks, stairs, concrete and bollards – and graffiti. The shoot used only natural light, which allowed Mike to shoot at ten frames per second. In his own words, an artificial lighting set-up would have slowed the shoot down, as flash set-ups do not allow for such quick shooting.
The results of the shoot, as you can see from the example, were excellent – capturing the urban spirit of parkour and freezing the runners in motion perfectly.