Jesper Grønnemark’s work is characterized by power and speed, conveyed through the subjects he shoots, the choice of location and the unique angles he pursues. As a sports and action photographer, Jesper is not afraid to stray from his comfort zone. In this recent shoot, Jesper took the power of the B1X to new heights.
His heart is racing, adrenaline is rushing through his veins as the door of the airplane opens. 13,200 ft (4000 m) below him the ground stares back. This is it, one chance, one shot. His grip on the Sony A7R II tightens as they jump from the side of the plane, 45 seconds of free fall awaits, 3, 2, 1…
The eternal strive to push the boundaries of what people believe is possible in sports photography has put Jesper Grønnemark in a position he could not have imagined a few years ago. His first skydiving experience was not an immediate love story. Now, here he is again on account of his own creative thinking. Why would he do it again, you might ask. Well, the answer is he needs to. In order to push those boundaries, he is more than willing to put himself in extreme situations.
The plan, and then a change of plans
How do you make it happen, then? In short, you need a man with a plan, and that man was Michael Boe Laigaard. Michael headed up the project in terms of finding the right people, and those people came in the form of the Danish national team in free fly - FLUX. They are the best when it comes to jumping out of planes and controlled falling through the air.
Right before the jump, Jesper wanted to capture some lifestyle-like portraits of the skydiving team simply because he had some really cool subjects to shoot, including an aircraft. For the portraits, he used a single B1X with OCF Beauty Dish Silver to give the subjects some character and edge.
The original plan was that they would all have their parachutes out, Jesper with the camera and Benjamiin holding the Profoto B1X camera left. Like this, it would be easier to track the skydiver through the air. However, shortly before the jump, it was deemed too dangerous due to the wind conditions and the plan changed to free fall. This new challenge was going to put an even greater demand on Jesper, since they now only had one jump and one chance to nail the shot in a free fall going 200 km/h.
In terms of lighting, Jesper used one B1X with OCF Magnum Reflector to light up the skydiver and to give it more of a studio feel. The plan was to use TTL to get the right exposure quickly and HSS in order to make the skydiver stand out while retaining the colors of the beautiful sky.
GO! As Jesper falls through the air, he sees the skydiver approaching from above, he gets his camera in place, and suddenly he is cool, calm and collected. The work flow is such an integrated part of him that even at a time like this it overpowers the adrenaline rush. He only has one shot, so he better make it count! The skydiver is head down, the shutter is triggered and shortly thereafter the parachutes open and touchdown. Everyone crosses their fingers that the images turn out well.
Jesper proves once again that hard work and quite a bit of sacrifice pay off. A lot of planning went into this shoot and even so plans changed. However, it was ultimately for the best. Jesper got the image he originally envisioned - a man hanging in the air above the clouds, head down. It may have been safer had his head been up, but when capturing the emotions of a skydiving experience, safe is not part of the vocabulary.