Jordan Matter captures crazy photo of daredevil dancer on one leg atop bridge in NYC


posted Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 6:58 PM EDT


Photographer Jordan Matter is a friend and neighbor of mine but when I saw his recent daredevil "Dancers Among Us" shot, I had to catch my breath and wonder if he really is crazy. In the stunning image, which you can see to the right and below in a larger size, Matter photographed dancer Rebecca Wilfer posing on one leg on the edge of a pedestrian bridge in New York City's Fort Tryon Park.

I jog across that footbridge a couple times a week and it spans a beautiful but vertigo-inducing spot high above an entrance to the Henry Hudson Parkway. The drop below is at least 200 feet.

Matter, whose "Dancers Among Us" book came out last year, was photographing Wilfer for a 2015 wall calendar he's been working on.

Photo © Jordan Matter, used with permission

"I had the idea and I knew she had the control to hold that pose. I knew she could do it," Matter told me about the shoot, which took place on Tuesday. "So, I asked her to sit on the wall (of the bridge) and she freaked out. And I said: 'I'm not going to do this if you're not comfortable.'"

After talking for a bit, they found a more stable stone on the bridge's wall that Wilfer felt secure sitting on. And then she stood up, extended her left leg until it was nearly vertical and held the pose. Matter did three takes, shooting about ten shots with his Nikon D800 and 28-70mm f/2.8 lens of Wilfer each time.

Photo © Jordan Matter, used with permission

For the fourth take, he had her hold the bouquet of wildflowers you see in the final image. Some onlookers were not amused by the scene, with one angry jogger even threatening to call the cops unless he stopped. Matter did one more take with Wilfer and then agreed to call it quits.

"She nailed it and the jogger said: 'Can you please stop doing this? This is crazy.' And I said you're right. It's crazy. I'm done."

Photo © Jordan Matter, used with permission

Matter's been part of some wild shoots before but this is the first time he actually sounded rattled. And, perhaps, with good reason.

"The scariest part of the whole process was when she would release the pose and then her weight would come back down again. If she fell, there's no doubt that she dies. It was stupid and I knew it but it was so cool I had to keep shooting."

Check out a few outtakes below and more on Matter's Tumbr. But please, do not try this stunt yourself!

Photo © Jordan Matter, used with permission
Photo © Jordan Matter, used with permission