6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, photographer and art director Fernando Paz shares his playful series of New Yorkers posing as skateboarders. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
In a city where “fake it ’til you make it” is a mantra shared by many of its inhabitants, Fernando Paz‘s cheeky photography experiment “Skateboarding loves you too” couldn’t have found a better setting. For the series, the die-hard skater approached individuals from all walks of life and asked them to pose with one of his many boards—a strange exercise with the simple goal of placing a familiar but altogether foreign object in the hands of the unassuming. The results, as you will see ahead, are wonderfully humorous, apt, and also bring out what Paz says is the “strong, happy, enthusiastic, hard working, loving, and any positive adjective wanna add” spirit of New Yorkers.
First, how long have you lived in New York City?
I’ve been living in NY for the last 11 years and I’m currently in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I moved from Mexico City to continue my work in advertising as an art director.
Where did the idea for this series come from?
I’ve always tried to express myself through every media. I switched to full-time photography around two years ago. I’ve been skating since I was 15 years old; I’m 41 now. I love skateboarding and whatever involves it, I’m in. The idea behind the series was very simple: Being proud to carry a skateboard even if you are not a skateboarder. So, it was basically to show a contrast between the skateboarding world and the people outside of it.
What were some of the initial reactions you got when you first approached your subjects? How many people turned you down, if any?
The encounters with these people were spontaneous, and I was always looking under the basic principle of them being completely unconnected to the world of skateboarding. I would say that 90 percent of the people agreed to pose with a skateboard despite the fact that the object was so foreign to them. The reactions were always positive, even from the people who declined to pose with it.
What is your favorite thing about New Yorkers?
That everybody is cool no matter what they do. And as for cool, I mean strong, happy, enthusiastic, hard working, loving, and any positive adjective that you wanna add.
What else are you working on right now?
I was working on becoming a New Yorker but heard that after 10 years of living here you get it automatically. So now I think I’ll continue to work on my photography, some video art projects, and my happiness.
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