Shutter Life | Photographer Finn Pomeroy’s Life Behind The Lens
From big mountain skiing to Mercedes speed machines, wingsuits to rock stars, the Oxford-born photographer takes us through his eclectic and stoke-filled portfolio
Hours before throwing himself out of a plane door and plummeting towards Earth, Finn Pomeroy is helping us make sense of his uniquely diverse career. “Distilling it down,” he says, “I like taking photographs of people that are really passionate about what they do. People that give everything to that one little moment, be it a massive line down a mountain or a song in a tiny venue. It’s an outburst of energy that could have been building up for weeks. I love to document that.”
We’ve caught up with Finn as he prepares to head over to Portugal for his latest wingsuit shoot – a sport he’s documented for more than a decade – and then out to the Austrian pow, where he’s chased wild backcountry lines every winter since he finished school at 18.
“It’s an outburst of energy that could have been building up for weeks. I love to document that”
To flick through the 33-year-old Oxford-born photographer’s portfolio is to fall into an envy-inducing and adrenaline-soaked narrative punctuated by punk frontmen growling down microphones, friends tumbling out of planes, enraged F1 drivers spinning donuts in parking lots, and unreal powder action.
From the outset, it’s an epic schizophrenic collection that straddles niches aplenty. Now, it’s clear that Finn points his lens with a laser-like focus. It’s a focus that’s helped him find one of the most inspiring (read: envy-inducing) work-life balances you’ll ever encounter, and one that’s led him to work with brands like Mercedes, Nixon, Black Crows, Picture and more. Here, he takes us through ten of his wildest and most memorable images, and dips into the epic stories behind each…
The Hard-To-Get One
Jamie Cartwright, Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland, 2015
“This is the earliest shot in this collection, and probably my favourite one, too. Jamie, the guy in the picture, is one of my oldest mates. We started skydiving together about 10 years ago, when I was 22. I was working for him in a landscaping job, and we’d watch skydiving, wingsuiting and BASE jumping videos all the time.
“One day I turned up for a job, and he said “Right, I’ve signed us up to a skydiving course.” I was hooked immediately – it’s a massively addictive sport, with so much to learn. I only wingsuit out of a plane – I don’t BASE jump – so for this trip I was on the ground with the camera. I think this was only Jamie’s second or third base jumping trip ever, and I was super keen to get him a photograph he loved.
“I love the distinction between the gnarled rock and the placid open space”
“I had a really clear idea of the shot I wanted to get – a separation between the cliff and someone flying away from it, with an open space to one side – but even so, it took me about three days to get it. I started out by standing right under the cliff, which was a real bad idea given it was Autumn, and snow was melting and stuff was falling around me.
“Jamie would be at the top, I’d be laying on my back, and I only had the roughest idea of his exit point as I couldn’t see him. What’s more, I only had a fraction of a second before he’d fall out of frame. But yeah, finally it worked out. I love the distinction between the gnarled rock and the placid open space.”
The Post-Crash One
Jamie Cartwright, Alvor in Portugal, 2017
“When I’m shooting skydiving, the camera – a big DSLR, not a GoPro – is mounted on top of my helmet. And because I’m skydiving in a wingsuit, I have a cable that runs down to my mouth that lets me bite to take a photo. I also have an eyepiece over one eye that’s linked to the viewfinder in my camera, so I know exactly where my lens is pointing. Yeah, it looks as ridiculous as it sounds.
“I have a cable that runs down to my mouth that lets me bite to take a photo”
“It’s the set-up I was using here. I remember really cocking up on the landing before this jump, and smashed my leg into the ground, taking all the skin off from ankle to knee. It was only day two of a five-day trip, so I wrapped my leg in a bandage and got back up there. This was taken on that very next jump, and I really like that fact it feels a bit industrial – everyone shoots over beautiful scenic areas, and this is the total opposite.
“You get the impression that everyone’s leading their ‘normal’ lives on the ground as we tit about up in the sky, 12,000ft above them. I love the eye contact in this image too. Jamie had no idea I was above him until he flipped onto his back, half a second before I hit – or rather, bit – the shutter.”
The ‘One Last Chance’ One
Jamie Cartwright & Shaun Crockford, Dubai, 2016
“This was at the end of a ten-day wingsuiting trip in Dubai, and things were getting a little strict in terms of flying over the palm. There’s a tiny landing area in the sea, just a small patch of grass, and people kept missing it, landing in the water, and having to be rescued by boat.
“People kept missing it, landing in the water, and having to be rescued by boat”
“This was our last jump of the trip, the sun was setting, and I wanted to get as much of the scenery in the shot as possible, so switched to my GoPro. I’d wanted to get this shot for a while and got it on our very last chance. The guys had no idea I was behind them at the time, so showing them I’d got it, it was a cool moment.
“Starting out wingsuiting requires a heavy investment: a course will cost you a couple of grand, a ‘chute can cost five or six grand, a wingsuit can cost a couple of grand, too. But once you have all that, the actual jump itself, the getting up there, costs around £20 a go. A bit more in Dubai, sure. But like most action sports, once you have the kit, it’s not too bad at all.”
The Pretty Illegal One
Nick Davison, Midlands, 2017
“I love this. It captures a really weird sense of still, calm and solitude in what was, no doubt, a full-on moment up there. BASE jumping from wind turbines, you have to break into them to get to the top. Then, it’s a really low jump – in his hand, you can see the ‘chute that he has to throw out behind him. By the time he’s a quarter of the way down, his parachute needs to be open. It’s… stressful.”
The Road Rage One
Valtteri Bottas, Goodwood Festival of Speed, 2019
“I’ve done a bunch of work for Mercedes over the last five years. They’re my main client, I’d say. It’s the commercial jobs like this that earn the funds needed to go off and mess around in the sky or in the mountains, and capture images for myself.
“He just shot out, all pissed off, and started doing donuts on the tarmac”
“As ‘commercial’ jobs go, though, it’s very cool. I get good access to the drivers and the cars and events, like Goodwood. This was a soaking wet day, and Valtteri [Bottas] was waiting to go out to do a lap, but the stewards kept on holding him back.
“I only had a 50mm lens – for portraits, really – when he just shot out, all pissed off, and started doing donuts on the tarmac. You can see the stewards having to push everyone back in the background. Because of the lens I had on me, I was only a couple of metres from the car. I really like the motion in the wheels and the water spraying off them.”
The Homegrown Hero One
Lewis Hamilton, Silverstone, 2019
“This was the very final frame I took on a five-day project with Mercedes. It’s part of Lewis’ victory lap after winning at Silverstone, and I really hedged my bets on my position – I saw all the Union Flags in the crowd, so thought it was as good a spot as any. About 30 seconds before this was taken, he pulled over. Luckily, it was to get a flag from one of the marshals, and he came into frame with the flag flying out of the top. It was epic.”
The Sweaty One
Frank Carter, Birmingham, 2015
“I’d always been a big fan of [Frank Carter’s previous band] Gallows. This was a massively energetic Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes show in a tiny venue, on their first UK tour, and I was down the front with my camera, getting battered.
“If I shot the same thing over and over again I think I’d lose my passion for photography”
“I love the energy – the dude’s legs in the air, someone falling into the stage. I guess it’s common for people to find their niche and stick to that area, but if I shot the same thing over and over again I think I’d lose my passion for photography.
“If I shoot skiing for a month, by the end all I’ll want to do is shoot music. If I shoot a bunch of shows, all I’ll want to do is shoot some wingsuits. Distilling it right down, I like taking photographs of people that are really passionate about what they do. People that give everything to that one little moment, be it a massive line down a mountain or a song in a tiny venue. It’s an outburst of energy that could have been building up for weeks. I love to document that.”
The Terrifying One
Niall Pomeroy, Arlberg, 2015
“That’s my brother, getting caught in an avalanche. In the winter I shoot a lot for Black Crows and Picture. Niall’s in a Picture jacket, and we were getting a couple of pics for them. Yeah, we fucked up massively here. We should have known better, really.
“Niall lives in Austria and is a part of the mountain rescue team there, and we’re both pretty knowledgeable about snow and safety. The light was perfect on this line and it had dumped the night before, but we both knew this face just sits on rock, so there’s nothing to grip the snow.
“Yeah, we fucked up massively here. We should have known better, really”
“He put the top turn in and the whole face just ripped out above him. This was actually shot as a sequence, and the image that came after this, he’s under. I’m on a massive lens, stood on the opposite face, so I felt so helpless as I saw him disappear into a cloud and down a gully.
“As I eventually came around the corner, with my camera still around my neck but ready to dig, he walked up from the other side with the airbag deployed around his head. He had no idea how bad the slide was until I showed him the shot. It was a foolish decision from the two of us. Lessons learned.”
The Epic One
Frederik Danielsson & Kristina Becanovic, Narvik in Norway, 2017
“This is one of the most beautiful peaks I’ve ever stood on. It’s quite the opposite from most of the other images I’ve put in the list as it feels really placid, but looking at it reminds me why I keep going back to the mountains. I was on assignment for Cloud 9 Concepts, who create high-end extreme ski packages, and we’d hiked in for hours from the sea at the back of the frame.
“Looking at it reminds me why I keep going back to the mountains”
“I’m not the fittest guy by any stretch, but when I saw this peak I pushed on to get to the top, to get the photo of them coming over the brow, with the most unreal scenery in the background. Knowing that there’s absolutely nobody in the whole of that photo apart from those two guys, you can’t help but feel the calm and solitude.”
The Dead Cold One
Nikolai Schirmer, Stuben am Arberg in Austria, 2019
“This is a face that had only been ridden around five times before Nikolai, a crazy Norwegian skier, called me to say he wanted me to shoot him hitting it for Black Crows. He somehow failed to mention that we were going to be wild camping up there because the only time it gets good light is first thing in the morning.
“Nope, no tent. We’re sleeping in this”
“When we finally stopped after skinning in, Nikolai started digging a hole. I assumed we were going to pitch our tent in it. ‘Nope, no tent. We’re sleeping in this,’ he said. Yeah, it was f*cking brutal. It dropped to about minus 18, the wind picked up, and to make matters worse, into the burner he said would make our hole feel like a sauna, he poured water instead of fuel. The burner immediately froze up, with no hope of defrosting it. All we had left to do was to put on all our clothes and try and sleep. I got zero sleep. Nikolai slept like a baby.
“At 4am he climbed up the peak like a lone mountain goat, just as the light started to hit the face, and he sent it in three turns. We wrapped up and got out of there, and were sat in a bakery by 9am. Yeah, that was a surreal one for sure. I love camping, but that was f*cking horrible. But considering the line Nikolai got and the look on his face when I met him, it was absolutely worth it, a million times over.”
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