The Lower East Side (L.E.S.) skate park is a very interesting spot within the city. It is a physical space that attracts a subculture of devoted skaters from all areas around New York. The entirety of the skate park is covered by a bridge, casting a shadow over the park from midday into the evening, but when the sun is rising or setting, the concrete park is illuminated and appears lively. This space is unique as it fosters an environment for both isolation and community. Individuals arrive at the park and tend to either corner themselves off, using skating to separate themselves from others and focus on being with themselves, or they use skating as a method of creating a community. They meet others, socialize, congratulate each other on impressive tricks, all while doing an activity they enjoy. L.E.S. draws in crowds as it is well known for hosting major skating events, such as World Skate Day. In 2017, Barbara Krueger did an installation in the space, attracting more visitors globally.
For my photo essay, I wanted to focus on what makes the L.E.S. skate park what it is: the people. After talking to many visitors, I got the sense that the people who frequent the park are very devoted and visit a few times a week. They were very friendly and open to talk. I got to know each personality that I encountered and wanted to do them justice in my photo essay. I decided on a zine format as I had collected multiple images from each person and wanted the viewer to view specific images together, following each face to another. The zine format also echos the eclectic feeling of the skate park as the pages jump from one person to the next, introducing new faces and moving on to the next.
The images themselves are pretty straightforward, most being portrait shots. Other shots included the belongings that skaters brought with them, their boards, and them utilizing the space. I also incorporated some shots of the surrounding environment, showcasing the graffiti, concrete, and surrounding architecture that make up the space.
Here are the spreads from my Photo essay first draft
Here are spreads of my final Photo Essay