For many, skateboarding, more than defying gravity or holding a deep sportsmanship layer, it is a lifestyle and a primary form of expressive communication. In a much broader sense of philosophical thoughts and concepts, this discipline has a strong connection to the urban environments where it is practiced on an almost religious basis. The buildings, sidewalks, streets and alleys become witness of the squeaky boards and worn out bushings. Rolling through the shadows of these city-made structures turn skateboarding into the voice of neighborhoods and parks. It evens holds a strong relationship with society and how it is perceived. Illogic situations where skateboarders are taken to jail for practicing on parks or benches give way to the question of morality, judgement and pure nonsense. Rafael Gonzalez, a Panama-based photographer explores this relationship, through images taken in a variety of places, where cultures and societies collide or coincide, skateboarding remains as an underlying way of life. Below is Gonzalez’s own perspective.
Most skateboarders, by the fact of being on the streets everyday in search of spots, tend to develop let’s say a particular sense or way of seeing things. In my case it got me into photography and also made me more curious to explore my surroundings in search of different perspectives.
Travels, architecture, and everyday life scenarios have been my source of inspiration since the very beginning as a photographer, those elements combined with the grainy mood, textures, shadows and contrasts of the black and white film have definitely allowed me to express my personal vision through the lens, not only by shooting skate photos but also documenting what occurs during the sessions.
Regarding the Leica Cameras, my experience shooting with them has been outstanding; I really like their solidness, design and the sharpness of their lenses, they’re definitely top quality precision tools. Life on the streets is really spontaneous everyday and you never know what’s going happen next out there so I always try to carry my M6 with 2.0/50mm Summicron lens and some ISO 400 Black and White films.
All photographs of this series were shot with the Leica M6 and 2.0/50mm Summicron lens.