document of a london skate park
Photographer Pani Paul spent years with the East London skaters before he won their trust enough to shoot them.
"Mile End is a skate park in east London. It is a rare space which still remains un-gentrified compared the other surrounding east London suburbs. With this being the case it holds a firm grip on its own personality and character.
"I have been taking pictures at Mile End for over 3 years. When I first started skating there I was quickly drawn to the people and the atmosphere. I was pretty much immediately accepted as a skater, however it took me a long time to gain people's trust as a photographer. After asserting myself as an adopted local the real people became more familiar with me and began to let me take their portraits.
"I was inspired by the genuine nature of the of the place and the way people just hung out like one big family. Mile End is an extremely multi cultural place and everyone is very accepting of others regardless of their background, and to be honest I don't feel this has anything to do with skateboarding bringing people together. A lot of skate parks still can remain heavily localised. I felt Mile End was unique in this way. A big factor in this is that Bryce Campbell and Carl Richardson operate Parlour skate store out of an arch that backs directly onto the skate park along with their second store on Hackney Road. Within this they promoted a safe environment for kids to hang and be themselves as well managing to deter trouble makers. (which is not easy as statistically, as Mile End boasts some of the largest crime and poverty figures in the UK).
"This project is a tribute to the people who populate the park and surrounding areas. I wanted to create a body of work that celebrates their personalities and would be something they can look back on in 10 years and be proud of. Hopefully it helps them to see that you don't have look or be a certain way to "make it" and can give confidence to pursue their genuine interests."
Mile End by Pani Paul is published by Palm* Studios, curated by Lola Paprocka, designed and edited by Michael Bartz. All images hand printed by Daren Catlin. 1st edition of 300 copies offset printed by MOS in Poland
The I-P-F London's official media sponsor for 2015 is VICE.
Photography Pani Paul