Ever since his first skydive, Staff Pro Jesper Grønnemark had the idea of doing a shoot while in the air. Even though as he says, his first skydive was more than enough for him, this idea was remained stuck in his mind.
The idea became a reality when he teamed up with the guys from Flux freefly, gave them a Profoto B1X and jumped out of an airplane at 13,200 feet to take his photography to new heights.
In this article Jesper takes you through the whole experience in his own words, with stunning images and a behind-the-scenes video of the shoot. We'll hand you over to Jesper from here...
His heart is racing, adrenaline is gushing into his veins as the door of the airplane opens. 13.200 ft. (4 km) under him the ground stares back. This is it, one chance, one shot. His grip on the Sony A7R II tightens as they move out the side of the plane, 45 seconds of free fall awaits, 3, 2, 1…
The eternal strive to push the boundaries of what people believe is possible in sports photography, has put Jesper Grønnemark in a position he did not imagine himself in again. After his first skydiving experience, some years ago, it wasn´t an immediate love story. Now, here he is again on account of his own creative thinking. Why would he do it again you might ask. Well, the answer is, he needs to. In order to push those boundaries, he is more than willing to put himself in extreme situations.
How do you make it happen then? In short, you need a man with a plan, and that man was Michael Boe Laigaard, head of the project in terms of finding the right people, and those people came in the form of the Danish national team in free fly - FLUX. They are the best when it comes to jumping out of planes and falling controlled through air. The original plan was that they would all have their parachutes out, Jesper with the camera and Benjamiin with the Profoto B1X flash. Like this, it would be easier to track the skydiver, or Mr. Bill as the “model” is called in skydiving, through the air. However, shortly before the jump, it was deemed too dangerous due to wind and the plan changed to free fall. This new challenge was going to put an even greater demand on Jespers skills as a sports photographer, since they only had one jump and now had to nail the shot in a fall going 200 km/h.
GO! As Jesper is falling through the air, he sees the skydiver approaching from above, he gets his camera in place and suddenly he is cool, calm and collected. The work flow is such an integrated part of him, that even in a time like this, it overthrows the adrenaline rush. Furthermore, he only has one shot, so he better make it count! The skydiver is head down, shots are fired and not long after it´s parachutes out and touchdown. Fingers are crossed on all parts. How did it turn out?
Once again Jesper proves that hard work and quite a bit of sacrifice, pays off. A lot of planning went into this shoot and even so they changed. However, it was for the best. Jesper got the image he originally envisioned; a man hanging in the air above the clouds, head down. It feels as if it would be safer if his head was up, but when trying to capture the emotions of a skydiving experience, safe is not part of the vocabulary.
When not jumping out of planes at 13.200 ft. Jesper carries his gear in the f-stop Ajna from the Mountain Series. When carrying a full array of camera gear he uses the Large Pro ICU. For working with a mirrorless system only, like the Sony A7R II used here, the Medium Shallow ICU maximises the remaining space in the pack for other gear - not including parachutes!