I am afraid of heights, and my fear falls more into the genre of phobia - which is an extreme or irrational fear of something. My height phobia is not extreme. I can usually manage it, but it is irrational in that the needle really starts to red line on man made heights as opposed to natural heights. For some (irrational) reason, a fire escape or balcony terrace makes the lower body clench a little tighter than a granite cliff or oak tree.
Late last year, I was approached by the Golf Pros at Safaa Golf Club in Saudi Arabia for a commercial photography campaign. Safaa Golf Club is a 9 hole, par 36 golf course that rolls out to just over 3,500 yards. The holes are lined with stadium style lighting and you can play under the lights until 10 pm - which, in Saudi Arabia, can be a relief in the hotter seasons and a novelty on the cooler evenings. It also provides a green space oasis in our predominantly beige environment, and the course is closed to golfers once a week but remains open for community members to walk or jog the meandering fairways.
The Golf Pros contacted me after they saw a creative portrait session that I had done with Jim Daum where we built some “exploding” golf balls and had Jim smash them into clouds of beautiful color against the dusty backdrop. The Safaa Pros liked the creative imagery and details of that session and asked if I could spearhead a photo campaign for the club that incorporated a similar style. In one of our first meetings the idea of some aerial shots came up, and this is where my nerves started to kick in as well. I believe the conversation went something like,
“We’d like the whole place covered and a variety of shots - landscape photography for the course, some portraits sessions with the golf pros, junior golf lessons, the clubhouse and restaurant, and we want you to do a walk around with a four ball to get the players in action.”
“Yep, I can do all of that.”
“And we are thinking we could get some aerial shots during the next tournament.”
“We can get the lift that we use for maintaining the floodlights and we can put you up there.”
“Up there? Like how high?”
“Well, they can go above the light fixtures.”
And this is the part of the creative process when you don’t tell them you are afraid of heights because if you tuck that in your back pocket and face that challenge head on - you get to spend the day in a boom suspended above the world churning below. And the calm is only broken by the comforting hum of the camera shutter that is making for excellent company in that little pocket of time and space.
A few behind the scene shots