The Story behind the photo: SoulFlying @ Outdoor Games September 20th, 2012
This story and photo take place the 14th of July 2010, the last day of the 2010 Nissan Outdoor Games (which sadly was the last edition to ever happen, but that’s another story). There’s only one day remaining in the 7 days of the photo / video competition, and the photos needs to be handed to the jury at 4pm at the latest, so each team is working really hard to put the final touch to the video edit, and to the photo slideshow. We got no photos yet of the base jumpers, and its mandatory in The outdoor Games rules to bring back at least one photo of each activity.
Base jumping is one of the hardest, most technical, most frustrating discipline to photograph. It takes forever to hike to the jumping spots, the action is happening at mach 37, the athletes are just flying in front of your lens, and it takes forever to try again, as they need to walk all the way back up… again. Plus its very hard to get a good angle, most of the shots are taken at take off, so all photos look a bit alike. And Its so damn easy to miss your shot.
On top of that in my team,the base jumpers are the dream team, the world very best. Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet are the Soul Flyers, several times Freeflying world champions. I never met them before the event, and photographed only once base jumping (at a previous winter edition of the outdoor games).
As some of the very best european outdoor photographers are here competing at the event, there’s no question that there will be a lot of extremely good photographs in front of the jury’s eyes. So i went all week about trying to be different, coming up with something new in all the activities i shot. And for the last one, i thought: As the organisation gives us a free half day mountain guide support, im gonna ask a guide to help me rope down the face to get a new, original angle. And as if it wasnt enough, i also decided to flash them as they would pass – at mach 37 – in front of my lens. the guide would be my Voice Activated light stand as i would ask him to hold the flashes, on the rope beside mine, aiming at them as they would fly by. That’s another difficulty added to the mix, as if you use flashes you only got one shot, you cant burst a frame and pick the best one.
So pressure is on.
Vince and Fred were excited about the idea as well, so we were all tense but in a very good mood when we started the morning hike. After almost 2 hours walking we reached the spot and i was already exhausted. I told the guide we would get down 50 meters at least under the take off, so we had to carry the ropes that would allow him and i to get down.
After climbing down 15 meters and sweating all i could, being quiete tense in my harness – i never did any climbing before and thus had no idea standing vertical in a 500 meters face could be so exhausting and intimidating, i told the guide the angle was good enough for me.
After much careful preparation and different flash tests, we were ready, so Vince and Fred jumped with a very technical tandem manoeuvre.
We completely missed the first shot, Vince Reffet’s Bottom is pretty much all you can see here.
After another 2 hours of waiting for the 2 jumpers to get back up (it took me 45 mn to climb back the 15 meters so i waited actually a bit less) we decided that they would simplify their jump and jump hand in hand facing me. Pressure was at maximum, as it was our last attempt and we had no photo (no decent photo) of base jumping… yet.
Next jump was a success, i triggered at the spot i wanted them to be in the frame, the flashes worked right, banger.
We had our shot. And it ended up being one of the most talked about shot of the photo slideshow that gave us the first place in the photo competition.
And without the massiv teamwork that happened there, with the athletes, the guide, our friends that came with us, there simply wouldnt be any shot.
I dedicate this shot to my great friend Antoine Montant, who as usual, gave me a great hand that day. He was the one who convince me i had the right idea and i had to pull it through. I’ll write some stuff about you my friend here on this blog when i’ll be ready.
Antoine fuse testing the jump so i could sort of guess if my angle / flash settings were right.
Rest in Peace brother.
Many Thanks for reading,