Lonely Planet Writer

South African photographer captures his hometown of Durban in a series of fantastic aerial shots

South African photographer Daniel Theron was recently offered the opportunity to take to the air and view his hometown from a whole new perspective. Of course, he brought his camera, resulting in these fantastic aerial shots of Durban, the country’s third-largest city. “Rohan Myburgh, the drummer from a band I’d been photographing, happens to also be a helicopter pilot,” he tells Lonely Planet. “One day, he invited me to fly with him in an R22, a model that has no doors. Needless to say, I accepted his offer!”

Photographer snaps Durban from above
Durban from a helicopter cockpit. Image by: Daniel Theron

Seeing somewhere so familiar from the air was a thrilling experience for Daniel. “I never knew that Durban’s landscape, city and coasts would be so vivid and beautiful from this new perspective”, he says. “It was definitely a life-changing experience. I didn’t think I’d be so calm flying at this height, but it was really fun – you actually just fall in love with it.  We flew from Durban to this majestic mountain, and easily landed on the top of it. That really blew my mind – how you can be anywhere you want, so quickly. It was a lot easier than climbing up it!”

Photographer takes to the skies over Durban
Air adventure with helicopter pilot Rohan Myburgh and Daniel Theron. Image by: Daniel Theron

That said, due to the helicopter’s lack of doors, there was a close shave at one point, as Daniel explains; “I almost dropped my camera over the Umhlanga coast, but it was definitely worth the risk for that photograph! It looks like a sword, and during the golden sunset hours, the light really captured my eye. The whole experience taught me that there are so many ways to see a place; every lens I used gave me a new perspective. I realised that if you get the right angle and the right time of the day, you might actually capture the perfect Durban scene.”

Helicopter view of the Durban beachfront
Durban seafront from the air. Image by: Daniel Theron

Another highlight for Daniel was the region’s stunning beaches. “We saw dolphins along the coast”, he recalls. “Having no door, you feel like you’re part of the atmosphere as you glide across the sea.”

Durban from above
Durban cityscape. Image by: Daniel Theron