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Emma Scaramozzino - September 09, 2020

SK Features: Lucinda Grange

Lucinda Grange Chrysler Building

Photo by Lucinda Grange

Lucinda Grange is an award winning photographer known for scaling some of the tallest and most iconic structures and buildings. Some of her most remarkable climbs include the Great Pyramid, Firth of Forth Rail Bridge and the Chrysler Building. Lucy and Shahla met towards the beginning of her photography career when most of her photos were taken underground in New York City's subway tunnels. 

Lucinda GrangeLucinda Grange

Photos by Lucinda Grange

Subway Series

Photo from Shahla Karimi

Around the same time that Lucy was photographing subway tunnels, Shahla launched the subway series, which highlights popular subway routes in NYC. When Lucy stumbled upon the series, she couldn't think of a better way to remember this time in her life than by getting her own subway rings. Shahla has always believed in marking life's milestones in jewelry, and this did just that for Lucy. 

Lucinda GrangeLucinda GrangeLucinda Grange

Photos by Lucinda Grange

Fast forward a few years, Lucy found herself itching to photograph NYC from a birds eye view. How? From the top of the Manhattan Bridge, Times Square, and most impressively, the Chrysler Building.

Shahla Karimi Chrysler Hoop Stud

Photos by Natalie Pluck

Coincidentally, Shahla had also expanded her collection to include a few special landmarks in NYC. Each piece includes a nod to a different building or place in the city. As you could imagine, the Chrysler Building inspired some pieces in the collection.

Shahla Karimi Chrysler Hoop StudShahla Karimi Chrysler Hoop StudShahla Karimi Chrysler Hoop Stud

Photos by Natalie Pluck

Now in 2020, Lucinda and her longtime partner, Christoph, decided to tie the knot. The perfect wedding jewelry? You guessed it - Shahla's Chrysler Building inspired jewelry. 

Lucinda Grange Great PyramidLucinda Grange Notre Dame

Photos by Lucinda Grange

Since meeting Lucy, we have continued to follow her climbs and explorations via Instagram. When she reached out to us for her Chrysler wedding pieces, we couldn't help but ask a few questions about her photography and all that goes into it; her answers were too good not to share. 

1. What inspired you to start doing photography like this?
I'd always been climbing as a child; walls, trees, anything my parents let me close too. It's something I never grew out of, so naturally, as I got bigger, the things I climbed got bigger too. I then discovered photography when I was 17, and combining the two happened organically.
People were often shocked that I would put myself in danger and go to these places, for this reason my self-portraits got the most attention. I didn't like that people thought that I was less capable of going to these extreme locations because of my gender, so I started photographing other women too, women I found inspiring, dressed in a way that highlighted their femininity, contrasted with a building/structure that people wouldn't imagine a woman, never mind a woman in a ball gown, to go to! This ongoing project is called 'Backwards and in High Heels', based on the quote about Ginger Rogers. As a woman, everything I do is judged as something done by a woman, and not simply as something done by a person. I want to highlight this, and highlight that women are just as capable as men, but ironically, the first response to the images in this series is often that they must be photoshopped!

2. How old were you when you took your first underground exploration?
I was 17/18 when I first went underground. It was like discovering another world under our own, parallel (in some cases literally) to that above. For all the infrastructure above ground, there's just as much underground; subway tunnels, sewers, drains, cable tunnels, mines, foundations. It's fascinating.

3. How do you prepare for a shoot? Do you have experience in rock climbing?
Preparations vary massively depending on the location and duration of the shoot. Sometimes I'll climb something in order to spend the night or an entire day there. I've spent 24 hours on top of chimneys, bridges, in the catacombs under Paris, and even once on top of the Notre Dame; I climbed at night, I watched the street lights flicker off as the sun rose and watched people in their daily routine. Followed by the lights flickering back on as the sun dipped below the horizon, watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle one last time, before all the bright lights on the iconic buildings and churches around the city (including the Notre Dame) turned off, allowing me to climb back down once again.

I do climb, which helps me know my physical limitations and capabilities, but I think it's equally valuable for me to know my mental limitations with this. To know how I handle heights, or react to extremely enclosed spaces.

4. Have you ever gotten caught climbing a building or exploring subway tunnels?
I've never been caught in a tunnel or climbing, but I was caught in an abandoned building once. But, I found the local police to be very hospitable, offering my friends and I a bed for the night. Which was great, as we were going to camp somewhere rough...maybe in another abandoned building!

5. What's the scariest moment you've had during a shoot?
There have been many scary moments, I guess it's a given part of this. From an unexpected storm coming while I was on top of the Forth Rail Bridge, to security nearly catching me on top of the Paris Opera House. Sometimes the fear is about physical danger, sometimes about being caught and the possible legal consequences.

6. Do you have an assistant while shooting or is it a solo expedition?
I have a number of talented friends who shoot in the same types of locations, and like any expedition, it's always safer not to go on your own. I used to occasionally go on my own, but I recently promised my now father-in-law that I'd no longer do that. For shooting self portraits, it helps to have someone there to assist, it's easier than using a self timer and a remote. I can set the camera on a tripod, have all the settings as I want, and ask them to press the button for me. With my timer I'm limited to 9 shots before I'd have to go back to the camera again, which is a pain when you have to, for example, climb back out onto the eagle of the Chrysler Building every nine shots!

7. How were you able to get to the top of the Chrysler Building?! Are you allowed to tell us?
Sadly it's not possible to get to the eagles of the Chrysler Building any more, for that reason I'll let you in on the secret... I made a dentist appointment! That got me past security on the ground floor. Unfortunately the only dentist I could make an appointment with was on a lower floor, so from there I had to use the stairs, and there's an awful lot of stairs!

8. What is your ultimate climb / shoot destination? What locations are on your bucket list?
This is a difficult one, there are so many amazing places in (/on/under) the world! It would be incredible to climb Christ the Redeemer in Rio. Equally, I'd love to photograph the Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland, or the subway tunnels of Pyongyang Metro in North Korea. Climbing the Great Pyramid had been at the top of my bucket list for the longest time, I don't know if I've had anything I've been so passionate about climbing since climbing that.

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