Documenting the Earth from Kites

Ben Ruhe
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If you love kites and are skilled at photography, how do you put the two together to make a vocation? Nicolas Chorier, 37, of Montpellier, France, faced this question a few years ago. His answer was: aerial kite photography.

Chorier discovered there was a small but steady market for documentary photographs. Planners, architects, builders, bureaucrats, tourist officials, even homeowners wanted shots of their sites of structures from the air. Besides being useful, aerial photographs from low altitude are often surprising and pleasing in the unexpected view they yield. They give a jog to conventional ways of looking.

Kites, Chorier discovered, had it all over noisy, expensive helicopters, which are in fact barred from low level flying by some French cities. Kites on the other hand are inexpensive, portable, easy to fly and take down. Above all, they are nonintrusive. They can also get really close up. And they can sit in the sky for hours. They have the advantage too over fussy, expensive balloons-another potential rival-because they can readily be flown in winds that will drive the balloon down from the sky.

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