To inspire a generation of photography enthusiasts, Nikon invited three pro photographers from across Europe to share their tips on how to capture some of the coolest street sports: skateboarding, freestyle football and parkour. Equipped with a Nikon D5200 DSLR camera, and a selection of NIKKOR lenses, each pro photographer shares advice on how to shoot their chosen street sport, accessible to anyone with an eye for photography.
Born in Bucharest, Romania, Claudiu Voicu is a professional street sports photographer, videographer and a former parkour athlete. He developed his cinematic eye by capturing fellow parkour athletes on video, before eventually turning his attention to still photography. As one of the primary contributors of the free-running movement in Europe, he’s been involved with parkour for over a decade and has been shooting stills professionally for the past four years.
With a background in videography, the Nikon D5200 provides Claudiu an ideal balance between high-resolution image processing and HD motion capture. Prepared to climb even the most intimidating of architectural structures to compose an image, he’s a match for most of his subjects.
Tell-tale signs of his video heritage emerged in a shoot with top free-runner Sam Parham, where he frequently used the D5200’s vari-angle monitor to frame images in tight angles. This allowed him to get creative shots that would be difficult to compose using the viewfinder alone.
Stylistically, Claudiu likes to emphasize colours and capture adrenaline in his shots. “I see the movements in the locations”, he explains. He chooses to work very closely with his subjects, making calls like a movie director to signal the start of an energetic sequence or series of jumps. To separate the subject from the backdrop – both equally as important in parkour photography – Claudiu chooses to contrast the frequently neutral, earthy colours of distressed architecture with vivid block-coloured clothing on his subjects. By combining a bright red t-shirt with vibrant red shoes, front flips, footwork and feats of physical strength can really stand out against speckled grey walls.
Claudiu explains: “Trial and error makes the concept of shooting parkour accessible to anyone. The athletes express themselves freely, and that’s reflected in the way free-running is photographed. Parkour itself is about self-improvement, it’s about pushing the boundaries of what’s achievable and like any extreme sport, this involves an element of danger. To capture this, I use a wide lens to intensify the spectacle unfolding before me. If there’s a huge drop, or unnerving gap for a free-runner to jump, revealing it can add emotive context, in the form of adrenaline, to the still.”
Claudiu Voicu’s tips for shooting parkour:
- Shoot raw – Carry a large SD card to capture raw files that can be manipulated in post-production, and invest in a wide angle lens
- Choose inspiring locations – The urban landscape is your obstacle course, visualising the location before a shoot is crucial
- Capture colourful clothing – Think carefully about what your subjects are wearing in order to make them stand out from their surroundings
To see more of Claudiu Voicu’s work, take a look at his website.
Check back the I Am Nikon blog over the upcoming days, for the next installment from the ‘I Am A Street Sports Photographer’ series.