"The skater grinds across the traffic barrier, undeterred by the surveillance cameras around him, or the fact that his stunt may be illegal, performed near an entrance to a United Nations garage in broad daylight. Elsewhere, a skater floats from one Midtown rooftop to another. Another rider uses a moving subway car as his personal skate park.
The skateboarding photographer Allen Ying captures such scenes, casting an artistic light
on this distinctly urban activity. He publishes them in an annual magazine of skateboard
photography he edits called 43 (an old name for a skateboard trick now known as a frontside
no comply). Mr. Ying, 30, gained some public attention this year when the image he took of
a skater flying over subway tracks at the 145th Street station went viral.
If skaters in his images are defying authority in some way, all the better, he says. He started
43 (currently in its third issue) in 2011 as a response to what he felt was the commercialization of skateboarding.
Big competitions and endorsements by energy drink companies rankle him.
“Questioning authority is a big part of it,” he said. “Some kids today probably don’t even know that there’s this part of it —
breaking the law and skating.” Mr. Ying, who grew up in White Plains as a thin, mild-mannered son of Taiwanese immigrants, isn’t
encouraging bedlam. But he believes that incurring a trespassing ticket or two is simply in tune with skateboarding’s cultural roots.
Commercial skate photography, he says, is sometimes staged; certain photos in edgy locations are made possible by permits.
“If he does the trick, it’s still the trick,” Mr. Ying said of the skaters in such images. “But that’s not true; it’s different when the skater
knows he only has so much time.”
“It’s fake, and you know it’s fake,” he said. “Skateboarding was always the one window into something real.”