How to Photograph Parkour with Flour
We already know how fireworks can make a difference in skateboarding photos. Now it’s how flour can show movement in photos meant to capture the movement of Parkour, which is the art of displacement. [Steinberg, 2010] It is a training discipline created by David Belle.
Photographer Ben Franke came up with the idea to use flour as his powder of choice. Shooting dancers usually entails some off-camera flash and something similar to flour to show trails and such, but most of the time you’ll hear them using chalk, not a cooking ingredient like flour. It just goes to show how improvised materials can turn out to be excellent photoshoot props after all.
He talks about his project:
I have been shooting the parkour scene in New York for the past few years. It’s a challenge for any photographer to convey authentic movement in a photograph — as it’s a 2D medium — but my series “Parkour Motion” attempts to translate motion by displaying the energy and power of these athletes.
The photos were shot over two days in Manhattan with a Canon 5D Mark II and a 24-70mm lens. They were lit using a 580EX flash with an umbrella and a reflector for a bit of fill. The trails were created using flour.
The series entitled Parkour Motion is an excellent depiction of the discipline, and the flour further emphasizes the frozen motions so that the viewer can better appreciate the power and precision in the movements. If you’ve ever seen “traceurs” (male) or “traceuses” (females) in action, you’ll notice how quickly they can navigate obstacles. Fast distribution of body weight, as well as an efficient use of momentum enables them to move at great speed despite the difficulty of the maneuvers.
“I love how [Ben] is trying to capture this kind of sport that is different from a lot of photography that I’ve seen depicting parkour and martial arts,” says Kenny Wong, one of Franke’s subjects. “I feel like Ben also captures an essence of the parkour scene in a way that is very unique in a New York City sense.”