If you hire New Hampshire photographer Jay Philbrick to shoot a project, whether it’s a wedding or self-portrait, you better make sure you aren’t afraid of heights. One of Philbrick’s unique approaches to photography is capturing his subjects standing 400 feet above ground on a small ledge – not surprising for a man who was formerly an Air Force pilot and climbing guide. In return, he delivers spectacular photographs that can’t be duplicated by most photographers.
While seemingly death defying, Philbrick’s subjects are never placed in real danger. Working with another professional climber, Marc Chauvin, and his wife Vicki (who’s his assistant and fellow photographer), his subjects are properly harnessed and carefully lowered onto a very small rock platform on Cathedral Ledge in North Conway, New Hampshire – a 700-foot rock that’s popular with climbers. Whether it’s a newlywed or a ballerina, his subjects change into their costumes or special attire only after they reach the small ledge. At the same time, Philbrick, equipped with ropes and harnesses, lowers himself down the side of the rock to take the photos from various angles; meanwhile, his wife photographs the entire experience from afar. The whole process can last more than two hours.
Usually, Philbrick takes the more traditional approach to photos of weddings, headshots, and graduating seniors, but he aims to give his photos an extra edge – sometimes literally. Putting his subjects off the side of a cliff or in other dramatic places is just one way he does it.
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