Risking it all for the perfect photo

Adventure photographer Christian Pondella shares striking images shot while hanging in mid-air.
Climber Will Gadd in action in Rjukan in Norway, 2010
Shooting Will Gadd in Rjukan, Norway in 2010 © Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool
By Christian Pondella

Often while shooting adventure sports I find myself dangling from a cord on the edge of a precipice to capture an image. Just free hanging in space, either actively shooting photos or just getting to and from a location.

Climber Will Gadd in action in Rjukan in Norway, 2010
Will Gadd in Rjukan in Norway, 2010 © Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool

Top Two Photos: Pondella hangs above Will Gadd to get the shot in Rjukan, Norway.

To shoot adventure sports it helps to be versed in a variety of activities and to be comfortable with heights, exposure and potentially dangerous situations. You must have trust and confidence with the people you’re working with, but understand that no photo is worth endangering you or your partner.

Will Gadd ice climbing at Helmcken Falls in BC, Canada
Will Gadd climbing at Helmcken Falls in BC, Canada © Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool

Above: Will Gadd climbs a first ascent on a mixed route called Overhead Hazard at Helmcken Falls in Wells Gray Provincial Park in BC, Canada.

It’s these unique opportunities that allow you to supply a perspective that the general public will not normally get to experience in their lives – a glimpse into a potentially life-threatening world. Coincidentally, it’s also something that makes you feel alive, as the forces of Mother Nature are working for you and could very easily work against you. The actual photography needs to be second nature since it’s critical to constantly focus on your surroundings.

Will Gadd ice climbing at Helmcken Falls in BC, Canada
Christian Pondella shoots climber Will Gadd © Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool

Above: Not your average selfie. Pondella hangs in place as he waits for Will to make the climb.

I cherish these opportunities in my photography career, and have captured some of my most impactful images while hanging from a cord...

Lonnie Kauk climbing Crossroads in Yosemite
Lonnie Kauk climbing Crossroads in Yosemite © Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool

Above: Lonnie Kauk climbs the third ascent of Crossroads in Yosemite National Park.

Stay tuned for more of Christian Pondella's "Behind the Photo" features on RedBull.com.

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