San Francisco photographer Jon Hope specializes in location portraits and aerial photography.

Today is the 30th anniversary of my first published photograph. It also happened to be my first ride in a helicopter, and my first attempt at aerial photography.

My school had visit from a military helicopter and gave a few students a short ride around the surrounding area. I lived near the school, so there was just enough time to run home, grab my camera, a roll of film and try to catch the last ride of the day.

I was lucky. One of the helicopter crew saw my camera and suggested I wear the winchman’s harness. So for my first helicopter flight I sat on the floor with my legs dangling out while we flew around the town. I was more excited than scared. What really worried me was losing my shoes somewhere over the town, and how angry my mum would be if I lost them.

My aerial was published in The Wellington Weekly News. I think I got paid £2, which is about $3 for my first published shot. It was on page 7. Score!

It’s funny how life goes full circle. I had no idea I would end up shooting a lot more aerials. 

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