Spectacular photos taken hanging out of a helicopter

(CNN) — Seeing the world from above is always a thrilling experience — even if it’s just from an airplane window.

So imagine how photographer Jin-Woo Prensena feels hanging out of a helicopter. The daredevil lensman takes spectacular shots of the world from above — suspended in the air, often more than 75,000 feet above ground.

“Aerial fine art photography attracts me because it is one of the most challenging types of photography,” Prensena tells CNN Travel.

The resulting photos are intricate, perfectly composed photos of beaches, airports and cities — all from this incredible vantage point.

Helicopter heights

Prensena took this beach shot of the Spanish island of Mallorca.

Courtesy Jin-Woo Prensena

Germany-born, LA-based Prensena has always had a penchant for travel — his international background imbued him with a sense of adventure.

“English is my second language,” he explains. “I originally come from Germany and my parents come from South Korea.”

He’s lived in California for the past 20 years and branched into aerial photography three years ago. This art form attracted Prensena because it combined his interest in travel and his love of adventure and challenge. He previously worked in Hollywood — traveling across the globe and mixing in high-profile circles.

“I worked for around 12 years for a very well known, A-list celebrity as his estate manager/handler,” says Prensena.

Prensena used to work as a Hollywood handler. Pictured here: Downtown Los Angeles.

Courtesy Jin-Woo Prensena

“I traveled all over the world […] I started wanting to capture all the experiences I had throughout the travel. That’s how I got slowly into photography.”

Prensena has always been daring — he has a head for heights and loves a challenge.

“When I was younger in Germany, I was a paratrooper in the military service, so I did quite a bit of jumps out of helicopters and airplanes so it’s not totally new to me,” he says.

“I like any type of challenge, I’m a very competitive person,” he admits.

Inspired to experiment with aerial photography, Prensena took to the skies with his helicopter pilot friend Aaron Fitzgerald, from Airborne Images. The two discussed how Prensena could get the best possible shots.

“We’re both daredevils and so I said in an ideal world I would love to shoot not just in a helicopter but actually hanging out,” recalls Prensena.

“It gives me much more freedom to use the camera in any type of angle. Especially if I want to shoot vertically, fully vertical down, which, I believe, as a photographer gives you a very unique angle.”

Unique vantage point

Prensena says aerial photography is an adrenaline-fuelled experience, pictured here.

Courtesy Jin-Woo Prensena

Prensena says the experience of photographing the world from above, suspended from a moving helicopter, is unforgettable.

“You’re totally fueled up with adrenaline, but then on the other hand you have to be creative,” he says. “You have to be technically very savvy, you’re up in the air and you have to be creative as well.”

During these aerial shoots, Prensena is attached to the helicopter with a professional rescue harness, to ensure his safety. Everything else in the helicopter is strapped down so there’s no chance anything could fly out. The whole enterprise has to be meticulously planned. Fortunately, Prensena’s former Hollywood job instilled him with great organizational skills.

Prensena’s helicopter trips require a lot of planning. Pictured here: Mallorca, Spain.

Courtesy Jin-Woo Prensena

“Aerial photography has to do with a lot of logistics, so a lot of planning,” he says. But by its very nature, helicopter photography is unpredictable.

“It is windy, shaky, extremely loud, where you can’t hear the shutter and your eyes constantly water up due to the high winds,” Prensena says.

“One thing that I learned very quickly is that hanging out on the ground of the helicopter is very different than hanging out up in the air of the helicopter.”

Capturing the moment

Prensena took this image of a plane at LAX Airport by hanging out of a helicopter.

Courtesy Jin-Woo Prensena

From this intense, adrenaline-filled situation, fine-art photographer Prensena produces pastel-colored, striking images — suffused with a sense of serenity.

“I’m drawn to obviously beautiful images,” says Prensena. “But behind the scenes I’m willing to go the extra step and to take any possible challenges on, in order to get that image.”

He’s enticed by shoreline scenes with royal blue seas and sandy beaches dotted with candy floss-colored umbrellas.

He also photographs busy industrial airports — including Los Angeles’ LAX, capturing winding roads, and planes flying by below.

An alternative view of secluded Pirate’s Cove in Malibu, California.

Courtesy Jin-Woo Prensena

“They were taken at 75,000 feet up in the air,” says Prensena of the airplane images. “If you look at them there’s still a simplicity about it.”

All Prensena’s images are designed to be viewed large-scale.

The photographer sells his prints on canvases up to 58×103 inches (147×261 cm) in size: “I shoot mainly on a Phase One XF 100MP medium format camera system,” he says.

“Most of my business comes from word of mouth because all of my prints are so big. Once they go up on the wall they become a topic of conversation automatically.”

He also shares his images on his Instagram account @jprensena.

Celebrity success

Prensena has a big celebrity clientele. Pictured here: Mallorca, Spain.

Courtesy Jin-Woo Prensena

Presena still moves in high-profile circles — he’s based in LA and his wife is celebrity makeup artist Monika Blunder.

“I have a pretty good celebrity clientele,” he says.

One A-lister has even recruited Prensena to shoot photographs for her.

“Jessica Alba called me last year and asked me to collaborate with her and Honest [Alba’s skincare collection] to shoot the cover art for Honest’s new product line that just launched,” explains Prensena.

Prensena has collaborated with actor Jessica Alba. Pictured here: Amalfi, Italy.

Courtesy Jin-Woo Prensena

Prensena’s aerial shot of the Napali Coast of Kauai is one of the photographs that now adorns Honest products. His work also hangs in the offices of top attorneys including divorce lawyer Laura Wasser, who represented Angelina Jolie.

Prensena’s photographs are getting noticed — but he still has more goals. From April to June 2017, he exhibited work at 45 Park Lane Hotel, in London, in a photo exhibition called ELEMENTS.

He is keen to do more exhibiting — but in similarly unexpected places, rather than conventional galleries.

“I like to think a bit more outside the box, I always try and find different ways and not necessarily go the traditional route,” he says.

Future heights

Prensena hopes to photograph over Africa and Antarctica in the future. Pictured here: Downtown Los Angeles, California.

Courtesy Jin-Woo Prensena

Prensena hopes to continue photographing the world from above — he wants to travel to more locations, opening up his prints to new audiences.

“I’d love to have an exhibition in South Korea, because that’s where my original heritage is coming from,” he says.

Prensena would also like to photograph other destinations from the air.

“The list is long, but I would like to shoot over Africa, especially during the migration time, when all the animals move from one place to another. And then also flying over Antarctica,” he adds.

Thanks to his determination and daring attitude, don’t be surprised if you see Prensena hovering above a city near you soon.

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