Using a Paraglider to Gain New Perspective as a Photographer

National Geographic just released an intimate black-and-white interview with one of their most prominent landscape photographers, George Steinmetz. Steinmetz is known for his aerial photography–impossible images taken while floating overhead in his absurd-looking, slow-moving, ultralight motorized paraglider:

“You see the world three-dimensionally. Even very minute differences in position. I can get a very different feeling in a picture.”

A motorized paraglider is an awkward flying contraption; Steinmetz says it’s “the world’s lightest and slowest aircraft”, and it resembles a harness attached to a giant leafblower-like fan and held up by a gliding parachute.

Steinmetz started flying the motorized paraglider around 15 years ago years ago, and it’s a miracle he hasn’t died. Not only does he fly this precarious device often, but he flies it to some of the most dangerous, remote parts of the world–post-war Libya, the remote desert of Chad, the salt domes of Iran.

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“I want people to be amazed at our world, to see things they didn’t know existed, and to be excited and enthusiastic about our planet.”

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The interview is full of inspirational quips and stories about capturing moments and finding little details. His demeanor is calm and comforting–he makes it all look so easy.

“I once did a story on the Sonoran Desert. I went down this one little road in Mexico, must have been down that road, like, a dozen times, and every time I went down I saw different things. I just kept finding different ways of looking at it, and it was just endlessly wonderful.”

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