Behind-The-Scenes With Jessica Ambats

First of all, if you haven’t heard of Jessica Ambats – or you need a high-flying refresher course, go see her here. When you’re done gawking and scraping your jaw off the floor, come back over here. Because your NEXT question is going to be: “How does she DO that??”. If you’re like me, you probably can’t quite wrap your head around how a shoot like that even happens! Well my friends, I had the divine opportunity to go on a shoot with Ms. Ambats and got to make a behind-the-scenes video about the experience so that you, my friends, could experience it right along with me:

I wrote, produced and narrated it – and it was a blast!

Jessica and I have been trying to get out schedules to coincide for about a year. I just missed out on a Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco flight by that much at one point and was sad for a week. But this time it finally happened! I got to bring my camera along – and when she said “You’re welcome to shoot behind the scenes video too” and I grabbed my Sony NEX-7 and went for it!

Mind you, I’m not a videographer or anything. But I do love a good story – and my little Sony does great video, so I figured I’d have some fun footage for just us chickens to enjoy. By the time we were done though – I had a veritable feature film!! It all sort of evolved in real time, I didn’t plan any of it ahead of time or anything. Jessica supplied me with video footage from the Contour cameras she installs in the planes – which has the voice recordings of her calling the shots during the flight. For the rest, I just used the on board mic of the NEX-7 and hand held everything. I DEFinitely need to get better at being steady. But heck, all in all I was pretty happy with it it!

Now, the pilots. Dude, the PILOTS!!! We’re talking full-on pro, amazing aeronautic professionals. Of course, Jessica Ambats is a pilot herself, recently certified for multi-engine aircraft. That, plus her stunning aerial photography makes her like this awesome double feature! For this day though, she was the photographer and left the flying in the capable hands of the day’s team.

Some of you may know Sean D. Tucker, of worldwide airshow fame. If you haven’t heard of him, check out one of the many YouTube videos featuring his unbelievable flying! Sean’s a superstar – and generously let me wander about his Salinas, California hangar for photos and video.

Randy Howell was a United Airlines pilot for many years and now owns and flies with the Patriots Jet Team.

Brian Norris is also part of Sean’s Team Oracle, and he piloted the Seneca – our photoship of the day.

Mary and Dick Compton owned the Citation jet that was part of the photo shoot; Mary is, herself a jet pilot and just as badass as the rest!

I have seldom felt in better hands with a flight team; and definitely felt privileged to be given the warm welcome and access that I was!

As the day progressed, I could start seeing the movie of the day in my mind. The only thing that made it different from any other mental movie that I typically enjoy when I’m shooting is that I really WAS going to be able to make this movie! When I combined my photos and NEX-7 footage with Jessica’s on-board video from the Contour cameras and her stunning photos (which you’ll see towards the end)… well, we had us a veritable feature story. Which I’m delighted to be able to share with y’all!!


What the most exciting, unexpected experience YOU’VE ever had?