Darina Shuparskaia participated in femLENS documentary photography workshops in Narva, Estonia, in partnership with VitaTiim, a local non-profit organisation. A week after the start of the workshop, Estonia implemented a state of emergency and the workshops continued online. 

boy on the skate board in the park femlens
Photo and text by Darina Shuparskaia

It often happens that many things go unnoticed to our eyes. We live our lives and only care about what concerns us. We often pass by the unusual, often do not notice the beauty and often miss the beautiful. A beautiful life can only be on a phone screen, that’s what some people think today, especially those who live in a small town like mine.

I have a friend, his name is William, he lives in a small resort town Narva-Jõesuu, which is located on the shore of the Baltic Gulf. A young man who’s devoted most of his time to skateboarding. Every day he allocates time for his hobby, every day he tries to learn something new, every day he faces his own difficulties, and feels the joy of the first-time tricks. To improve, to move forward despite losses and misses, to try again and again sounds like a big deal, but this is exactly what I saw in his life.

He started skateboarding back at the beginning of the second decade of 2000 when he and his brother were still riding scooters. But today that’s the most embarrassing thing he’s ever done in his life. Then he bought is first skateboard and he stood out among others, because in our small town there are only a few people riding skateboards. In the beginning it was difficult, nobody to learn from, even nowhere to ride, because a skating ramp was installed in our city very recently. I asked, what do you like so much about it? For passers-by, he’s just a boy who rides on a board and makes a lot of noise. It is also possible that he is stereotypically considered to be a hooligan and a show-off (he told me that apparently that’s relevant to people who ride scooters). But I was touched by the answer: “Doing this brings me peace of mind and it’s not just something I like to do. If I’m having a bad day, all I have to do is get up on the board and it’s already a little better”.

It’s easy to judge when you’re standing on the sidelines. But your opinion changes when you get closer. My idea of skater culture has turned upside down. There is so much to know, so much to learn, so much time to give to have growth. Bruises, scratches, holes in your shoes, dirty clothes – these are all steps towards the goal, these are all steps towards skill. It’s all so beautiful when you get to know it. 

Everybody has their own story, and there’s not one that’s not worth telling. I’m really glad that I could see his life from a new perspective. How he lives on the streets of a post-Soviet city, how he lives during quarantine, in these new conditions. I am glad that he is ready to move on and “plans to perform in competitions”, albeit small, but for him, as someone who is just beginning his journey to a dream, it will be a big and meaningful step. And before that, he will challenge himself again and again every day.

There are so many views on life, and I was happy to see life through his eyes. Through this story, I want to inspire us to take an interest in the lives of our friends. Everyone has a special treasure in their life. If your friend is passionate about drawing, if your friend has devoted herself to children, if your friend found herself singing, then do not miss the opportunity to learn a little more about it… If a person has found what he or she likes, then he or she is happy. And seeing a happy person next to you is the best gift that a person can get.