Vitaly Raskalov is a photographer, traveler, co-founder of On The Roofs and internet sensation, whose climb on the 650-meter-high Shanghai Tower gathered over 60 million views on YouTube. The young daredevil travels the world, scales head-spinning heights and recommends everyone to ditch “ your brilliant career and start living”. Vitaly talked to us about his start in photography, relativity of risk and his favorite cities.
Describe your path to becoming a photographer?
I got into photography 8 years ago. It all started when I bought my first camera and was curious about what photography was. This whole climbing thing came up later. At the beginning I would photograph pretty simple things, you know, what most people usually photograph. Then one day my friends brought me up to a roof and off I went.
When did photography cease being just a hobby and became something you’re doing for a living?
I don't really know, I think it’s been something I do for a living this whole time. I used to have occasional day jobs but never stopped making photographs. Maybe now I don’t focus on photography as much as I used to, but it’s still not only part of my job, bot my main hobby too.
Were there any photographers who influenced you?
There were people who inspired me, but none of them actually shaped my artistic views, meaning no one really gave advice of any kind. I’ve been on my own in my artistic journey.
What was your first photo-related job?
I can’t remember. I remember selling my photos for the first time. Then they started hiring me to do photo shoots, also I worked for different agencies, shooting things like architecture and factories. I even got invited to Kazan during the 2013 Summer Universiade to photograph the city from above. I think this was the first time someone paid me to do that.
What does it feel like to risk your life every time you climb on a roof?
It’s not like I particularly feel anything. It’s all part of my work routine. There are other risky situations in my life, which aren't in any way related to roof climbing.
How do your friends and family feel about what you do?
They are cool about it. I’ve been doing it for a while already and managed to explain that it’s just a job, like any other. Also, I’m not some sort of a reckless nutcase, I use my head while I’m there. It seems much more dangerous from the outside. Riding a motorbike brings much more danger, because during one day on a motorbike I encounter twice as many risky situations as I do during a year of roof climbing.
Home is wherever my mom is. But if you’re talking about a particular location - I don’t think I have one.
What’s your favourite city?
There are a few cities I like: Hong Kong, New York, Moscow, Paris and Vienna. Hong Kong is the city I’m always happy to come back to; Moscow is pretty neat too, however, there’s no one particular city I can call my favourite.
What do you like about the cities?
I love their energy, that peculiar atmosphere and the way people live there.
How would you describe your style?
I don't think about it that much. I guess, like an impressionist painter, I just try to express something I feel through photography. There’s no hidden meaning in my works.
When you climb on a roof, do you have your shots planned out or does it just come to you?
Photography is not the first thing on my mind, because often just getting where we want to is a big deal. Images come later when I see the shot I want to take. I don't consider myself a great photographer, I simply do what I like.
Your advice to someone starting out?
Don’t listen to what others say, do what you like even if someone says your photos are bad, just keep going if that's what you like.
Why did you join Alter-View?
Micha Stroyev, who I knew prior to joining, invited me to join a great project, so I took it on board. For me, everything in life is as simple as that. When I don’t see a reason why I shouldn’t, I do it.
To see more of Vitaliy's work go here:
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