High-flying Brooklyn boys on a magical trampoline: Jamel Shabazz’s best photograph

High-flying Brooklyn boys on a magical trampoline: Jamel Shabazz’s best photograph

The Guardian

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‘I came upon them in an abandoned parking lot. Watching them was like reliving my own childhood’

This was taken in 1981, in Brownsville, my neighbourhood in Brooklyn. I was 21 and my father, who photographed weddings and took portraits in our community, had been teaching me the science of speed and light, and how to capture decisive moments. When I came upon this scene in an abandoned parking lot, I felt something was coming on. They reminded me of myself as a child. Observing them was like reliving my own childhood. I took three frames, but it wasn’t until I got the film developed that I realised I had created something magical.

This has become one of my most popular images. It’s housed in a number of renowned institutions in the US. It was used on the cover of Undun, the album by hip-hop band the Roots. It’s also the cover of one of my books, Seconds of My Life. A magical image is, for me, one that has a magnetism, that draws you in and holds your attention. You don’t need a caption. You can study it and draw your own conclusion.

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