- Posted March 31, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Photo essays: Your stories in pictures
The man behind Egypt's pyramids' photos
A week ago, the world learned about some crazy people who climbed the pyramids in Egypt and shot a fantastic panorama of the place with Cairo aglow in the background.
People crowded to post their opinion on the comments for a CNN article online. Positions went from people who wanted them dead to the understanding ones who said it wasn't a selfish deed because they shared their pictures with the world.
But, who is the guy behind the lens?
Meet Vitaliy Raskalov. A 20 year-old Ukranian from Kiev who can't easily be described.
A huge mop of blond hair flowing in mid-air atop one of the highest buildings on earth would be a nice try.
But make no mistake. This huge mop hides the hyperactive, hyper-generous and fantastic brain of a gifted man.
Vasiliy is a photographer, a filmmaker, a designer, a writer, a "roofer" -one who walks, jumps and flies on and from roofs. At 18, he already knew a good part of the world.
He's traveled more than 4,000 miles riding a shared motorcycle through Russia, Dagastan, Kazakhstan and a myriad other places, to document them in 25 days.
He's climbed antennas, lighthouses, bridges, statues, pillars, minarets, cranes, posts, churches and everything in between.
That's the way he conveys the world to his viewers. And he's not alone. His friends -lads and gals around his age, are in the same "team", and share the same passion for heights and all the challenges and risks they come with.
He loves to teach and learn how to be a better photographer. His uncanny ways of holding his D40 with one hand while balancing 1000 feet above the ground is just second nature. He sees what most of us can't. On terra firma or floating in the sky.
He loves to share his passion with all of us who can't go where he goes or do what he likes or see the way he looks at things.
His photographs can make your stomach flip in an instant, but they bring a fresh and unique way of looking at things.
Undoubtedly, he's a hero, an achiever and a dreamer. He and his friends have managed to do -illegally 99% of the time, what police and the rest of us have difficulties to understand: getting to the top of a building unnoticed and do some roofing, a sport that resembles parkour but in the heights of the roofs only.
And they're masters at their sport. They have to study the place, watch for possible inconveniences they could cause to the owners or inhabitants of any particular building, time their escapade, and document the process as thoroughly as possible.
They sketch the ways in and out of the building and the intended goal.They also film with GoPro cameras, so they always get many POV's from the team. As they go, they mark the route with stickers that signal their success.
To many people, yes, these guys go breaking rules all the time, and they get into dire straits every time they are caught. Police know them. They've been featured in many TV shows, the radio and magazines in Russia and Europe. So, Police know about them. To many others, they're among the few pioneers of roofing and extreme basejumping. And they're their heroes.
Watching them is something else.
They're careful, patient and calm when it comes to do the job. But they enjoy it and clearly do it for the fun and the joy adrenaline provides... and for the views... and for the thrills!
In a video that hasn't been translated yet, they decide to go for the tip of a crane on top of the tallest building in Kiev, Ukraine. Maybe one of their most daring objectives.
The detail with which the plan is presented, is as close to perfection as you can imagine, and everything works like clockwork.
They make their way to a spot past two-thirds the height of the building and they bivouac there.
Very early in the morning, still with a clear sky, the base-jumper reaches the tip of the crane, balancing into the void and off he goes. A car awaits patienly at the landing spot right in the middle of a wide avenue. In five seconds, the base-jumper has packed the parachute and runs to the open door of the car while a siren is wailing in pursuit. The whole thing is filmed from the helmet camera of the building-diver, from the street, and form above.
The rest of the team makes it to the tip of the crane as the weather changes radically and becomes a snowstorm. The photos are stunning, and the video is vertigo-inducing. You can judge by yourself.
Vitaliy and his team now have another summit under their arm.
The Creative Side
An aspect of the creative side of these people is their commitment to show the world the way they see it.
Several exhibitions have stunned the visitors in Russia with photography that defies the imagination, because these pictures are not your typical aerial photos. The composition and the clear sense of height they convey are their trademark. And, since so many of them contain a member of the team, the more awe-inspiring they become.
I don't think many of us will ever travel the world to look at it from these heights. But Vasiliy and his friends have done it and will go on doing it for the time being.
The Egypt stint may have made them a bunch of careless weirdos to the world, but Vasilyi's work will remain one of the best and, probably, most unique creative styles in the trade today.
The photos on this article:
1. A visit to Northern Russia in the Arctic
2. El-Cairo, Egypt
3. The Gizeh Pyramids, Egypt
4. Dubai, UAE
5. Mission: Impossible Burj Al-Arab, Dubai, UAE
6. The crane at the Mercury Building, Moskow, Russia
7. Reaching the Star, Moskow, Russia
8. Contrasts in Mumbai, India
9. Atop of the city, Mumbai, India
10. The Blue Dome, Istanbul, Turkey