Afraid of heights

August 5th, 2014
By

Window washers Ikaika Pahulu, top, and Barry Iona of World Wide Window Cleaning rappel down as they service the makai tower at One Waterfront Plaza on Thursday, July 24, 2014 in Honolulu.

Window washers Ikaika Pahulu, top, and Barry Iona of World Wide Window Cleaning rappel down as they service the makai tower at One Waterfront Plaza on Thursday, July 24, 2014 in Honolulu.  

Now that our Progress Edition of Hawaii at Work has published, I can tell you a little story about a big fear that I had to overcome for my subject for Hawaii at Work--HEIGHTS!!!!

When we were asked to brainstorm ideas about photographing subjects with interesting jobs, the first people that came to mind were window washers--the fearless, rappelling, keepers of the some of the nicest views in the whole state.  I turned specifically to World Wide because I had photographed a bunch of their crew a few years ago rappelling down Century Square in downtown with Jason hockey masks a la Friday the 13th for Halloween.

20101031_newsWDAwashers

I've always had an admiration for the fearlessness these guys have in hanging off the side of a 400-foot tall building.  Working them on this current assignment, the guys at World Wide gave me such great access and knowledge into their craft--400 feet in the air!  The day I worked with them, they were working on One Waterfront Tower--the two building high-rise condominium across the street from our Restaurant Row newsroom.  Site manager Steve Kaaa oversaw the operations and led us to the rooftop of the makai tower.  Upon opening the rooftop, I was instantly mesmerized with the view looking out.  But looking down....well, let's just say, knots began to form in my stomach.

Window washer Barry Ionn of World Wide Window Cleaning prepares to rappel  down.

Window washer Barry Iona of World Wide Window Cleaning prepares to rappel down.  Canon 1D mark IV, EF15mm fisheye, 1/2000 @f8, ISO 200, manual exposure, daylight whitebalance.

As soon as Barry, Ikaika, and Gordon were rigged up and ready, they attached my safety rig so I can get onto the scaffolding.  I noticed I was talking at 90 miles an hour, and my palms began to sweat.  But I had to concentrate on the task at hand.  An overhead perspective was best, and that meant lying prone on the scaffold to eliminate the guardrails in the photo.

Here I am, trying really hard to work and trust that the scaffold won't suddenly disappear from underneath me.  Photo by Steve Kaaa.

Here I am, trying really hard to work and trust that the scaffold won't suddenly disappear from underneath me. Photo by Steve Kaaa.

It's pretty daunting to look down through the "cheese grater," as Barry put it, and see the street, cars, and pedestrians moving about like ants below your feet.

Here's another perspective of where I shot from.  Photo by Steve Kaaa.

Here's another perspective of where I shot from. Photo by Steve Kaaa.

From top, window washers Ikaika Pahulu, Barry Iona, and Gordon Susau of World Wide Window Cleaning rappel down as they service the makai tower at One Waterfront Plaza on Thursday, July 24, 2014 in Honolulu.

From top, window washers Ikaika Pahulu, Barry Iona, and Gordon Susau of World Wide Window Cleaning rappel down as they service the makai tower at One Waterfront Plaza on Thursday, July 24, 2014 in Honolulu.  Canon 1D mark IV, 15mm fisheye, Manual exposure, 1/1250 @f11, ISO 400, daylight whitebalance.

Window washer Gordon Susau of World Wide Window Cleaning rappels down to service the makai tower at One Waterfront Plaza on Thursday, July 24, 2014 in Honolulu

Window washer Gordon Susau of World Wide Window Cleaning rappels down to service the makai tower at One Waterfront Plaza on Thursday, July 24, 2014 in Honolulu.  Canon 1D mark IV, 70-200 f2.8 @95mm, Manual exposure, 1/640 @f2.8, ISO 320, daylight whitebalance

All in all, what an amazing experience.  Am I still afraid of heights?  HELL yeah!  But seeing Barry, Gordon, and Ikaika in action, and seeing the passion for their craft was well worth the sweaty palms and dry mouth!

 

Leave a Reply