Businessman with high-flying idea is keeping feet firmly on the ground

JPCT 10-08-12 S12329001 Paul Armstrong, Pictures from above, Slinfold -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT 10-08-12 S12329001 Paul Armstrong, Pictures from above, Slinfold -photo by Steve Cobb

Using a helium balloon to take pictures from the sky, one Slinfold man is hoping to take his business to great heights.

Paul Armstrong, who lives in Six Acres, got the idea of using a balloon to take photographs from the air while holidaying in France, taking three months to fine-tune all the equipment he uses, and now hopes to develop it into a commercially sound venture.

Using a white Helium balloon with camera rigging at the bottom controlled from the ground, he can take snaps from heights of up to 500 feet.

He said: “I have been thoroughly encouraged from the people I have spoken to, how everybody understands the concept, and people see unanimously what a good idea it is.

“Every time I go out I get to do something new, there’s no end of opportunity.

“It’s about maximising your efficiency and finding those opportunities.”

He pitches the business as ‘quality photographs from any angle’, possessing a flexibility not possible in other forms of photography, with uses for large or small businesses, private shoots such as weddings or parties, public events, or historic buildings.

The magic, he says, is that if he were taking pictures of a church, he could walk the entire way around it, taking pictures from every conceivable angle.

Most people are interested by his work, and he has a thorough privacy policy for those who might be concerned about the issue.

Fascinated by what he saw in France, he then spent time researching whether any existing companies offered something similar to what he was planning, and to his knowledge no one in this country is taking pictures from a balloon while controlling it, as he does, from the ground.

Paul said the switch to being self-employed did not daunt him, having previously worked in sales and marketing, specifically in document management computer software.

He explained: “I always enjoyed photography and always enjoyed business.

“The guy that I saw in France was doing it for pleasure rather than business but I thought, ‘I can do this much better’.

“Then I figured I could make this work and can build it up enough to make it a business.”

Asked what it felt like to swap an office environment for wandering around the countryside taking pictures from a balloon, he said: “I still spend 50 per cent of my time behind a desk when we are marketing, refining the equipment, and making contacts.

“But the other 50 per cent of my time I can go out into the fresh air and get out and about.”

He spoke of his excitement about the many applications the idea has, and is off to Parkminster Monastery near Cowfold this week, one of a number of jobs involving driving around Sussex to build up his picture portfolio so he can attract business and interest.

He added: “To get compliments when I have taken a good picture is brilliant and quite fulfilling.”

His white balloon isn’t quite notorious yet, but when he is around and about in the village with it up in the sky, some of the children from around the village on bikes make it a game to find him, travelling all the way down to his strings.

For more information visit www.picturesfromabove.co.uk or call 07968 596417.