We recently collaborated with photographer, Matt Hawthorne to frame this beautiful (and a bit unnerving) perspective of New York City. But before we get to that, a little bit about Matt and his experience shooting from such dizzying heights...
The iconic Chrysler Building from above (and Matt's Nike's) Photo: Matt Hawthorne
Based in Dallas, Texas, Matt Hawthorne is an advertising and commercial photographer with clients that include Nike, Gatorade, FedEx, JCPenney, American Airlines, and many more.
Check out more of Matt's work. Keep reading to see the end result of our collaboration.
What might surprise you about Matt though is how he credits skateboarding with helping get him into commercial photography. Before he picked up a camera Matt was a sponsored skateboarder who was constantly in need of photos of himself skateboarding for this sponsors. Instead of hiring someone, Matt borrowed an old 35mm Olympus camera from his father and along with a tripod, he did it himself. Eventually, in his desire for better photographs, he started learning about and adding in off-camera lighting to his skating photography. And there a commercial photographer was born. After graduating from Texas Christian University he began assisting for commercial photographers in the Dallas and grew his craft and business from there.
I asked Matt a few questions about this experience flying above New York City. As someone who has never been in a helicopter, let alone an open helicopter, I was quite interested to hear his thoughts...
How on earth (or sky, I guess) did you end up photographing from above New York City?
I was approached by a friend who does marketing, about teaming up with Epic Helicopters to trade airtime for images that Epic could promote with on their website and social platforms. I have over 10k followers on Instagram (@HawthornePhoto) so even me posting aerials would be a huge way to help Epic promote themselves. I have flown with Epic numerous times helping them build a nice library of Dallas images that they can promote with, while also getting the opportunity to build a great portfolio of aerials for myself. It’s been a win-win for everyone.
Is it difficult to photograph from a helicopter? Or were you scared or nervous about hanging out of an open helicopter cockpit?
Yeah it's a little difficult. Of course being in the air you can get neat photos, but being specific and trying to coordinate certain shots are a little tricky. Technically it's not too difficult, but you definitely have to be able to make decisions and adjustments very fast!
I would say I was more anxious about what it would be like, my first time up was doors off so I knew it would be a wild experience. It was way different than I expected though, much smoother and after about 10 seconds I wasn't worried anymore at all. Its exciting every time I go up!
How did the coordination and communication with the pilot work? Does he just go where he wants or do you have plan in place ahead of time?
On standard helicopter tours, the pilot always creates a perfect flight pattern and takes the riders on the best experience he can give. When I get to fly with Epic its a little different, we do communicate before the flight and come up with a concept or strategy and how the flight pattern will best help us to capture it. I am able to direct to a certain level in order to line up our chopper to get the best angle. Since we are basically shooting marketing images for Epic we are able to go off the standard path in order to get unique shots.
We had a blast working on this project. The detail and beauty of Matt's photo was just astounding in to see in person. To add a clean, contemporary feel to the print Matt decided to frame his print in our white maple Gallery Collection frame design for 16" x 24" photographs. The punch of color that Matt's shoes add in this print is emphasized by using a white frame and matting. When viewing in person your eyes tend to start at his shoes and then move into the Chrysler Building, the key focal element of photograph. While adding a stronger visual element around the photograph such as a black frame would certainly look good, in this situation the frame just kind of gets out of the way and lets the photo make an impact on its own.
Bonus...here's a photo Matt took from inside his Dallas studio of his set-up for the above photo.
Make sure to check out more of Matt's work on his website. He also runs a great Instagram account for more regular updates into his daily work as a commercial and advertising photographer. Find him @hawthronephoto.
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If you'd like help choosing a frame for a particular photograph or are interested in working on a project together email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.