Come Fly with Her: Japanese Teenager Takes to the Air, Photographically


posted Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 10:10 AM EDT

Natsumi Hayashi is a Tokyo teenager who likes to fly, or at least to photograph herself in mid-air as though she were Mary Poppins or Supergirl. She's made dozens of photographs of her flights across Tokyo and has become a bit of an Internet sensation.

In an interview with the U.K.'s Daily Mail, she explained she got the idea for her levitation images from a Japanese saying -- similar to the English -- "to have one's feet planted firmly on the ground." However Hayashi told the newspaper, "I'm not a very practical person at all. Therefore, I try not to have my feet firmly on the ground in my self-portrait photos to show my true self."

While the fantasy of flying is common enough, few of us have Hayashi's patience and persistence to turn our dreams into photographs. It is, after all, a demanding task.

Working alone, Hayashi places her camera on a tripod and frames up the image. Then using the self-timer,  she races into position in the scene and tries to synchronize her leap with the firing of the camera. It is a difficult process requiring a lot of running back and forth between camera and take off point.

Ultimately, Hayashi has to repeat this process, dozens, if not hundreds of times to get these photographs right. While others might have simply produced similar images using photo editing software like Photoshop, Hayashi wanted her images to be genuine and only retouched a few to remove a hoverboard she occasionally used to assist her leaps.

Hayashi, whether she knows it or not, is just one in a long line of photographers who have photographed human "flight." To name just two; there was French photographer Jacques-Henri Lartigue in the 1900s, who photographed family members zooming down staircases or levitating over swimming pools. Another was Phillipe Halsman, who worked for Life magazine and made a specialty of airborne celebrities and politicians photography. (See Halsman's image of Salvador Dali below.)

Like the work of those photographers, Natsumi Hayashi's images of human flight are charming and whimsical, and indicative of a young woman whose career as a photographer is certain to take off.

You can see a lot more of Hayashi's levitation at

Dali-and-flying-cats-by-philippe -halsman-web