The Big Ladder Photographer: Pictures of the Year 2022

 (Big Ladder)
(Big Ladder)

Drone photography has made people see the world in a different perspective, according to The Big Ladder photographer Chris Gorman.

Gorman, who is a fully CAA qualified drone pilot, highlighted the increasing importance of drone photography in today’s news, in what he describes as a “photogenic year”, with events such as Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee and her subsequent funeral creating historically significant images.

On the popularity of drone photography, he said: “In the last five years I’ve been shooting entirely by drone.

“Basically, you’re seeing the world in a completely different perspective. We’re used to seeing the world from the ground, with conventional cameras.

Gorman, who uses a DJI Mavic 3 drone with a 20-megapixel camera, said: “Drones mean you can send cameras almost anywhere, with permission.

“Crucially, a drone isn’t just for height, it’s a camera that can go anywhere. It’s a camera that can go where the photographer generally can’t.”

Gorman’s aerial shot of Stonehenge (Chris Gorman/Big Ladder)
Gorman’s aerial shot of Stonehenge (Chris Gorman/Big Ladder)

UK weather provided huge news lines and opportunities for drone photography, with extreme weather in the summer sending temperatures soaring to 40-degree heat , and an Arctic blast this winter plummeting temperatures to lows of -9, with snow and ice this month.

“Weather is crucial for all my picture. Every picture you can see is thoroughly planned, they’re all pictures that I have had planned out maybe months before they’ve been taken. Finally, the weather conditions come right for you to be able to do the picture,” he said.

Gorman also covered images of landmark attractions including Stonehenge – which saw him highly commended for the Landscape Photographer of the Year exhibition. His image is set to be displayed in London Waterloo early next year.

Despite the increasing use of drone images, they are illegal to fly in central London unless prior authorisation is provided, which takes at least a week to receive, making drone footage effectively redundant when it comes to news stories, with helicopter images of Westminster and inner London usually dominating broadcast

For Gorman, this meant that image of Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland had to be planned a month in advance to make sure the drone use could be authorised in time.

Gorman’s aerial shot of Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland (Chris Gorman/Big Ladder)
Gorman’s aerial shot of Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland (Chris Gorman/Big Ladder)

He said: “I had permission from Met Police, air traffic control, Winter Wonderland and Royal Parks. I had all those permissions in one go to be able to fly there.”

Issues around safety measures for drone use have been a talking point since Gatwick Airport was brought to a standstill in December 2018 following reported drone sightings, causing police to enforce stricter regulations around them.

Despite this, drones are more prominent than ever, widely used in media and major events, including at the Platinum Jubilee’s Party at the Palace.

Gorman added that drone displays like these are growing in popularity as an alternative to firework displays.

He said: “They are extremely clever displays. Each drone is connected to an internal central computer that matches drones to a picture and line them up accordingly.

“It’s more environmentally friendly and they also don’t frighten animals.”