Adventure sports photographer Tom Bol loves doing commercial shoots that involve an adrenaline rush. Even if that means making photos while hanging perilously on the side of a sheer cliff-face. So, when he had this opportunity to take portraits of a wedding couple, he combined his love for adventure sports and his passion for making interesting on-the-edge images to produce this series of breathtaking photographs. Here’s how he did it:
Shooting images while hanging on the side of a cliff isn’t exactly the easiest of assignments. It becomes that much more complicated and dangerous when you factor in the models, your crew, and the expensive equipment you’re using all hanging on the side of a cliff. Thus, safety is of paramount importance.
Before the actual shoot began, Bol went ahead of the models and the other crew, along with some other climbers, to make sure that safety devices like anchors and ropes were in place. He set up six ropes, which allowed six people at a time to be lowered down on the cliff-face for the shoot.
The timing of the shoot was midday, so Bol needed an array of lights to overpower the sun. Bol’s choice was the ELB 400. These are lightweight battery packs just over four pounds and powerful enough to produce over 100 full-powered flashes. Portability is a major factor when you’re shooting in the mountains.
Bol also used the Elinchrom Skyport which allowed him to control his lights from his camera.
Bol originally intended to use a large octabox for the shoot. However, given the strong winds at the location, he had to opt for a smaller box to go with the lighting setup. He set up the small octabox as the main light. A standard reflector on a light head and mounted on a light stand acted as the accent light from below.
Was all the effort worth it? I think the final shots answer that question:
“The number one rule with all this is you have to be passionate about it. I’ve been climbing for 30 years. I absolutely love it. I think that’s how you produce your best work, is if you want to be an extreme sports photographer then you have to believe it, live it, and just think about it. That will get you the images you want.”
For further training: The Complete Guide to Wedding Photography