How much do you trust your partner? Even in marriage, this trust is not always one hundred percent. But this photo shoot demands complete trust between two newly-weds – at the top of a 100 meter cliff! Daredevil Jay Philbrick makes the most incredible wedding photos. They have to put their lives in each other’s hands and dangle from the edge of the cliff. Christie Sulkoski and Kevin Coleman will never forget this one-of-a-kind photo shoot.
This is really testing out the borders of their new marriage. It is a symbol for the trust they want to give to each other during the rest of their life together. According to 62-year-old Jay, “the edge of the cliff is about ten meters below the peak and 100 meters above the ground.” – “We secure bride and groom with a rope and let them down to the ledge. The harness is very safe and reliable. It is actually more dangerous to drive to this cliff than dangling off of it! They were let down one after the other and secured at a hidden anchorage in the rock.”
This photo is really awe-inspiring. 100 meters from here to the ground!
It looks like Christie is only holding on to her husband’s hand, who seems to try and rescue her. In reality, both are secured with ropes and hooks.
Some brides wear their dresses while being lowered down, others only put on the expensive gowns when they have reached the rock ledge. It depends on the length of the dress. Jay Philbrick is known for this kind of photo shoot, so he gets lots of requests. The artist from North Conway, New Hampshire, found his passion for extreme photographing after working as a mountain guide for several years.
While saying that he doesn’t “seek danger”, he still looks for the most unique and beautiful places. Among them are glaciers, steep snowy slopes, and even places under water. “They are all fun, but have their own, unique challenges, and many don’t require ropes or hooks. We don’t seek danger deliberately. I worked as a mountain guide for a long time and know much about risk management, customer service, dealing with ropes, avalanche danger, and so on.”
Singular photos emerge from singular angles – sometimes the photographer hangs above the couple, sometimes below them, and sometimes next to them. In a few instances, he even stood next to them on the cliff.
“We usually choose angles where the ropes and hooks are not visible. We want to avoid photoshop as much as possible.” For every 90-minute photo shoot, Jay and his wife Vicki require the help of a third mountain guide, who helps with the lighting. The scenes take place in the mountains of New Hampshire. Jay and Vicki have been doing this since 2008.
Jay might not look for dangerous places, but that is where he seems to end up all the time. Snow, ice, or water – everything’s fair for him!
Of course, you can’t become an extreme photographer over night. Jay had to take many courses and lots of hours of training.
A ballerina in a red tutu is practicing her steps – on a narrow ledge! This is the kind of things Jay loves to capture.
The security equipment is hidden with convenient angles. Sometimes, when it’s not possible to hide it complete, photoshop is used.
“At a height of several hundred meters, I sometimes have to twist around a lot. Above, below, or next to the couple – for the best photo I give everything,” says the photographer. “I always felt drawn towards depicting delicate and beautiful subjects in a rough and hard environment. The rock ledges are made for this.” – “We have done this kind of photo shoot with four or five wedding couples, and many have booked for the next season.
Jay runs his business together with his wife Vicki, and they often need a third mountain guide to help with the lighting.
When the couples book a photo shoot like this, they are usually sure about it. Only once did a bride cancel the shoot – for understandable reasons.
Landscapes and natural phenomena are the backdrops of these gorgeous pictures. This time, it was northern lights. These shoots usually begin before sunrise, so there is enough time to bring the couple into position and use the natural lighting of the sunrise.
One couple waited patiently on the cliff for hours, until snow and fog had gone away.
One of the brides explicitly wanted frost and ice as a theme for her photos. For this, they went to a small ice cave in the side of a cliff.
“We get the best photos if we take photos while hanging closely above them,” said Jay. “On some days, we had lots of fog. We had to improvise and use it for some dramatic pictures.”
In the beginning, Jay only wanted to do extreme shoots with wedding couples; but he got more and more requests, so he included others, like models, tattoo models, and dancers.
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