Photographer Pat Nabong climbed to new heights for our cover story—literally | Bleader

Photographer Pat Nabong climbed to new heights for our cover story—literally

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Photographer Pat Nabong (in gray shirt and black pants) top rope climbs to shoot Abhijeet Rane and Jforpaydotcom, while Siyang Huang is belaying Nabong, below.
  • Photographer Pat Nabong (in gray shirt and black pants) top rope climbs to shoot Abhijeet Rane and Jforpaydotcom, while Siyang Huang is belaying Nabong, below.
This week's issue features photographer Pat Nabong's sweeping photographs of Brooklyn Boulder's Chicago's annual Out to Climb event.

Nabong elected to take her shots while aerial—top-rope climbing as she documented the event, which raised money for the Howard Brown Health Center.

The photojournalism fellow at City Bureau—whose has also done high-risk assignments like documenting protests in the Philippines—proves that neither a fear of falling nor water cannons can get in her way.  (More of  her work can be seen at patnabong.com.)

Here are her answers to some questions about her work:

How long have you been climbing and how did you get started?


I've been climbing regularly for almost five months now. My friend introduced me to climbing and I was hooked. I had only climbed once before when I was a little kid and I was so terrified, I couldn’t even rappel down.

Have you photographed while climbing before and do you have other experiences shooting from tough vantage points?

Pat Nabong
  • Pat Nabong
This is my second time photographing while climbing and my first time top roping while photographing. The first time I did it, I was photographing people who were bouldering, wherein people climb shorter walls without ropes. I had to climb to the top and hang there for a minute while photographing the climber below me. Those two experiences are so far the most unstable and scariest for me, because even after climbing for five months, I’m still paranoid about the possibility of falling. It’s something that I haven’t quite gotten over yet.
Other than that, the most challenging vantage points I’ve shot from was probably in the middle of a protest in the Philippines. When I was starting out in photojournalism, I covered a lot of protests there, some of which were quite chaotic. One time, I was taking pictures near clashing protesters and police. Water cannons were being fired. I’ve also experienced taking pictures inside a claustrophobic mine.

Why is climbing meaningful to you personally?

Climbing got me through a lot of hard times and taught me lot about life. Through practicing, I learned how to take calculated risks, stop overthinking, overcome my fears, and be more resilient— lessons that were applicable to life outside the climbing gym, too.

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