- Meet the photographer who travels the world capturing athletes at great heights
Aidan Williams AKA the Slackline Photographer has an incredibly niche photography style. He travels all over the world photographing slackliners; athletes who walk along a length of nylon rope across chasms, mostly in extreme conditions.
While the athletes down the barrel of his lens are impressive, Aidan himself displays a huge amount of athletic prowess to capture them. Whether it’s scaling cliff faces, trudging through snow storms and even dodging the odd cougar, Aidan’s dedication and commitment to nailing the shot is nothing short of extreme.
We asked him a few questions to get an insight into how he captures the details in his world.
Shot on a Canon EOS R and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens + Extender EF II
ISO 100 | f/5.6 | 1/500s
Tell us about you, your photography style and how you managed to get into photography?
I’m a 23-year-old adventure sports photographer from the beautiful Blue Mountains in New South Wales. Using disposable cameras since I was five years of age, my parents gave me my first camera at age seven.
They must have known something that I didn’t until I was older. My style of adventure sports photography lends itself to large vast landscapes with a small figure in the frame.
Explain your go-to gear and why you rate it so highly
The Canon EOS R Body and RF 24-105mm is my go to combination. The camera is versatile, compact and amazing in low light situations, and combined with the new 24-105mm lens, it means you can walk into any extreme environment and be able to take a great shot. The focus ring takes it to a whole new level.
Shot on a Canon EOS R and RF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens
ISO 100 | f/5.6 | 1/500s
What inspires you as a photographer?
I still feel inspired with the same things as when I started. I love waking up early with the unknown and hope for amazing light.
Tell us about your greatest achievement as a photographer
Growing up and seeing my idols published in National Geographic. I always dreamt of being published too, and at 22 years of age I was.
Share the story behind your most memorable photograph
My most memorable photo is called ‘Freedom’ - ‘8338’ and it came from Nazare, Portugal.
I was on a project involving the Eiffel Tower and I heard about a small group of Portuguese Slackliners, walking through waves over thirty meters in size. I instantly booked a 24 hour night bus travelling from Paris down to Lisbon.
Eventually I got my opportunity to shoot, but the waves reached no larger than seven meters for that entire week. I was scheduled to have Christmas with my family in Scotland, but when I was told about the huge waves predicted I sacrificed that for the potential of an amazing shot I had envisioned.
Shooting at this location meant getting saturated. The anchor was thirteen meters above the water level and the waves were coming in around thirty meters in size. In these situations, there’s a fine balance between protecting your gear and knowing when to keep shooting to get the best images.
Kodawari* is an uncompromised attention to the details that matter to you. What’s your Kodawari?
My Kodawari is dedicating myself to the image, through ideating exactly what I want to capture, sometimes years or months in advance. The margin for error is so small and there are a lot of variables in extreme locations.
Shot on a Canon EOS R and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens
ISO 100 | f/6.3 | 1/125s
What are your photography goals over the next year?
My goals over next year are relatively simple, I really want to improve my portraits. The athletes I’m working with have such amazing stories, I would love to tell them in a better way.
What’s one tip you’d give to other photographers?
Persistence. Persistence. Persistence. Photography holds such an amazing journey, so work hard - get up early for the sunrise even though you are craving a coffee. Most of all enjoy the journey. If you‘re enjoying your photography, you’ll exceed your own expectations and improve out of sight.
Shot on a Canon EOS R and EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens
ISO 100 | F/5.6 | 1/640S
If you could only capture one image what would it be?
Oh that’s a really hard question. It would have to be repeating Philippe Petit’s ‘Tightrope’ on Sydney’s Harbour Bridge — getting a highline photo from there would be a dream come true!
Aidan’s Photography Kit:
Aidan Williams is an Australian photographer based in New South Wales. You can see more of his work on his Instagram here.
*Kodawari is the Japanese philosophy for the dedication to a craft. It’s uncompromising attention to detail. It’s something we've pursued for over 80 years and something you unlock every time you put a Canon strap around your neck. Learn more here.
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