Chris Arnade is a photographer based in New York City. I've blogged his urban photography before. Check out these fantastic shots of young men in Hunts Point Bronx, doing crazy gravity-defying freestyle jumps. Below: more photos, and the story behind those photos, from Chris.—XJ
Last year I was in a desolate part of Hunts Point, talking to a friend. A group of about ten teenagers came down the street, loud, filled with energy, and seemingly marauding (kicking over cones, jumping on and over stationary cars, etc). I have never had a problem in my twenty years in New York City, but that does not mean I don't stay aware. As they passed, out of the corner of my eye I spotted Jose, do a back flip over a hydrant. Amazed, I yelled out to him. He and his friends, who were also warily eyeing me and my friend, thinking we were cops, were planning to run away, but his friend Henry had a sprained ankle, so they stood their ground.
Since then I have come to grow very fond of Jose and his friends, and have done two proper photo shoots. Big fans of Parkour, Hip-hop, and Anime, they are fighting against an area where the pressures of poverty, drugs, and limited opportunity weigh heavily.
For me it's another lesson in expectations. All of my accumulated baggage from popular culture signaled for me to get away from these kids and their bad intentions, all theirs told them to get away from the cop who would treat them unfairly. Neither of us did that, and because of that I certainly have learned a bit more about the Bronx.
Groups of teenagers have thrown rocks at me from a distance (I just spread my arms and say "Give me your best shot, you arm aint that good." So far that's worked). I understand what the combination of boredom, energy, and hormones can do. Hell, I threw rocks at things when I was that age.
—Chris Arnade, 2012.