Celebrating 12 years of being under the ownership of Ian Leslie, we look back at our humble beginnings and see how we’ve evolved with an ever-competitive industry.
When High Level Photography was established in 1985 by founder Keith Hallam, it ran successfully specialising in Highway CCTV surveys and commercial property photography. When Keith decided it was time to retire to the far east, he needed to find the right person to hand the baton to for the company to continue its journey.
With a lifelong passion to develop a career in photography and film, Ian Leslie saw this as the perfect opportunity to bring together his expertise and passions and channel it into a business. Having set-up and developed some very successful businesses since his first role as trainee film editor, including film, TV and video production, property development and a sets and staging business, he came in with a wealth of experience to bring to the table.
On the 12th of September 2007, after a few months of due diligence and negotiation, the contracts were signed and sealed. Ian moved the company from Ripley, Surrey to a temporary base in White City, London where he had been running another company. Within the first year of ownership the company consisted of two vans (one of which didn’t work!) so there were some big changes and challenges in the works! In 2008 the company took on its first employee David Reeves, who is still with the company, and is Chief Photographer.
Further Up we go!!
In the early days of getting elevated shots, the company used remote controlled helicopters with cameras slung underneath in addition to the masts and cherry pickers (MEWP’s). These drones have evolved immensely over the intervening years and enabled clients to have a much wider choice in image positioning and height
Having held a private pilot’s license since 1990 and maintaining a love of flying his whole life, there was a direction seemingly obvious that Ian wanted to go for – up, up and into the sky! Come 2008, High Level moved a step closer to incorporating aerial photography into its services by relocating to Fairoaks Airport in Chobham, Surrey. This move meant we had quicker and easier access to the motorway network for our expanded fleet of three (working!) vans to travel up and down the country, plus of course being only a stone throw from the runway!
When 2011 arrived, so did our fully functioning aerial photography services! Our beloved Cessna 172p (callsign G-BIOB) was rented for 2 years until the decision came to purchase the aircraft. This increased the flexibility and frequency of our flights, always a positive! This meant we could expand our aerial library by a vast amount, taking 1.3 million images alone in 2014! Since then we have purchased a second aircraft and frequently make use of hired helicopters.
Keeping up to date with the latest in the industry technology means we have all the tools to deliver a complete solution focused on achieving a client’s ultimate objective, rather than just supplying a ‘pretty picture’. Alongside our traditional methods of masts, planes, helicopters and drones we also use a multitude of unique techniques including cherry pickers, balloons, abseiling and even a giant selfie stick!! - offering clients the best method to suit their needs. The main challenge we face is the unpredictable British weather!
Given Ian’s background in film production, this was a service he was keen to perfect. In 2016 the company established a new company division specifically for video filming; prior to this we offered video services, however Ian was keen to invest some money into it to make High Level the best it can be. He acquired some new equipment to offer professionally stabilised filming from various heights alongside all their other services such as drone.
The expansion of services, methods and vehicles goes hand in hand with the expansion of our team, who have contributed significantly to the growth of the business and the relationship we maintain with our existing and new clients. Meet the team and their elevated personalities here - http://highlevelphotography.co.uk/about/team/
As we stand, we operate with 5 vans, 7 drones, 2 planes and of course a multitude of cameras! With a stock library of over 7 million images, we’ve got you covered. Our dedicated library team search through to find the perfect image for our clients, and if we don’t have it we can send our photographers out to get the perfect picture.
As for the next 12 years… world domination! Well, in commercial photography for the property sector at least!