Lonely Planet Writer

Photographer shares stunning images he takes hanging from a helicopter

A photographer has shared a collection of striking images taken all over the world from the unique vantage point of hanging out of moving helicopters at an altitude of 7500 feet.

Jin-Woo hangs out of the helicopter to get his shots.
Jin-Woo hangs out of the helicopter in order to get his shots. Image by Jin-Woo Prensena

Taken by Jin-Woo Prensena, a professional fine art photographer specialising in large-scale limited edition prints, the series includes stunning shots of planes landing at LAX airport in Los Angeles, remote riverbeds of the Icelandic highlands, a beach packed with colourful sun umbrellas in Montauk, New York, snow-capped trees in a silent forest in Whistler, British Columbia and the crystal clear azure shores of the Amalfi coast in Italy. Raised in Germany, Jin-Woo began taking photographs while travelling, turning his interest in the medium into an occupation.

Amalfi in Italy, photographed from the sky.
Amalfi in Italy, photographed from the sky. Image by Jin-Woo Prensena

“I started around three years ago with aerial photography. My close friend Aaron Fitzgerald is one of the best helicopter pilots in the business. Both of us came up with the idea to do a project together shooting Los Angeles from the air, with him flying and me shooting. I was immediately hooked by how it felt to take pictures hanging out of a helicopter and fascinated by the images I was able to capture. I need to wear a professional rescue harness that is securely connected to the cabin. I call this my life line, and the setup gives me the most flexibility to work with my camera, as well as total freedom to choose which angle I can shoot my subjects from. This way I can capture beautiful beach scenes and dramatic cityscapes,” Jin-Woo told Lonely Planet Travel News.

Having worked in Hollywood for a number of years, Jin-Woo’s former clients include Jennifer Garner, Ben Stiller, Chelsea Handler, Molly Sims and Daniel Tosh, and his series of vibrant beach pictures have become well known internationally.

An incoming plane at LAX airport.
An incoming plane at LAX airport. Image by Jin-Woo Prensena

With experience in different fields, the challenges of aerial photography taught Jin-Woo a number of valuable lessons. “It can get quite shaky up in the air as you hit unexpected winds and turbulence, and you constantly have to balance and try to hold perfectly still to get your shot. Your senses are very limited as it is extremely loud and very windy. I can’t hear when I press the shutter and my eyes tear up constantly due to the high winds. Therefore it is very important to be 100% familiar with your equipment to be able to be creative up in the air and to lock your right shots in,” Jin-Woo said.

Kauai, Hawaii's fourth largest island.
Kauai, Hawaii’s fourth largest island. Image by Jin-Woo Prensena

More of Jin-Woo’s work is available at his official website.