I was recently commissioned by Miller Construction to get some shots of the new Helipad at St Georges hospital, south London. It was nearing completion and there just so happened to be an enormous crane on site that would make the perfect vantage point.
I’m not the best with heights, so why did I accept the gig? Well the thing I love about photography is the access it gives you to many places otherwise out of bounds, so I had to say yes. Bravery? Courage? Not a bit of it, it was foolhardiness of the highest order.
The crane itself was a tower crane, and it was massive. We were effectively to take aerial shots from just below the cab, at the top of the tower itself. To get there we had to climb up a series of tiny ladders that joined together little platforms, each 6 metres apart. We must have climbed at least 8 ladders, so were about 50 metres / 150 feet in the air.
We were so high that halfway up, the chap I was with took a phone call and directed a delivery van by sight, from outside the hospital grounds to where it needed to be on the site.
And it doesn’t just sway up there with the wind, it rotates slightly too.
Mind you, what a view.
- I took quite a heavy kit up on my back, two bodies, 80-200 mm, 24-70 mm and 14-24 mm. This gave me options once up there, but also made it very tricky getting up and down the ladders.
- Once up there I had to watch for camera shake from a number of factors, the tower itself in the wind AND when it picked up a skip and moved it about 3 yards (I nearly cried), and consequently my own hands shaking from fear.
- Don’t forget like I did to get the other person to get a pic of you while up there, as proof. I wish I had, but I’m not going up there again to get one.
You can see the final artwork for this shoot in my tear sheets gallery.