Michael Goetze and Jampal Williamson (AKA Jumps) are the duo behind Australian aerial photography collective Salty Wings. Although they’ve only been on the drone circuit for just over a year, they have quickly become the experts on aerial seascapes that are unique and unlike any other images already on the market. Their success is due to their meticulous planning and commitment to producing exceptional, vivid imagery, and the balanced partnership between Michael and Jumps.
Michael and Jumps traveled to Tahiti with Adobe Stock, and took some time to speak with them about their beginnings and rise to success.
Fotolia: Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves, and how you guys met?
Jampal Williamson: My name is Jampal – people call me jumps – and together with Michael Goetze, we run Salty Wings. We find and photograph coast lines that we find particularly beautiful, and we’ve been doing it for about twelve months.
I went to the same high school as Michael – he’s five years older than me. I hadn’t seen him for five years but met him again at a party. At the time, Michael was living on a bus at the back of a winery and surfing. We both shared a passion for photography, so we just started photographing together, and had the idea to monetize photography.
Fotolia: How do you guys work together? And when you’re shooting on two different drones, how do you make sure that the final images are cohesive?
Michael Goetze: I think we have a very similar style and taste for the end product, which is why we work so well together. Most of the time we are in agreement about how something should look at the end. At the start, we have different interests, so when we split up and we shoot, the content we come back with is quite different. But we’re good at coming together and deciding what to put out.
I’m more business-minded, and that’s an itch I need to scratch. Running an e-commerce site and learning the business of photography is really interesting to me. Jump is more creative-minded. We’ve got strengths in two different fields, so between us, we’ve got the business and creative side covered.
Fotolia: How did you guys come up with the name Salty Wings?
JW: Back in 2015, when we had the idea for Salty Wings, we were actively looking fro a name that rolled off the tongue and was relevant to flying drone around coastlines. Michael’s friends had recently returned from a boys fishing trip, and all the old fisherman on the trip would call everyone salty dogs, like “Ey! Salty dog, what’s up dude!” So when they came back, they were saying salty this, salty that, and Salty Wings came from that.
Fotolia: Why is travel important to you, creatively and professionally?
MG: I love the lifestyle – there’s nothing better to do than to go to new places, meet new people, and photography is the best way to do that as a lifestyle. I hate being stuck in one place!
JW: Travel keeps you guessing. Every place is a new feeling, you go to a beautiful place, you experience it, and then you can go to another place and have a totally different experience. For me, that’s addictive.
Fotolia: What’s the benefit of having your images on Fotolia?
JW: Because I travel a lot, I’m actively photographing and working. While I’m away, when I have my photographs on stock, they can work for me, so that I can focus on what I’m good at doing, which is creating.
Fotolia: Salty Wings is known for aerial image of oceans – what is it that draws you to water?
MG: Growing up in West Australia, I grew up next to the beach, so I’ve always gone to the beach, always been in the water. It’s the most important thing to me is to be by the ocean. So naturally, for photography, I was drawn to the ocean. I just want to be by the sea, where there’s surf and nice water.
Fotolia: And what about drone photography?
JW: When I’m photographing, I’m looking for something I’ve never seen before. With aerial photography, you can capture a landscape in a way that is otherworldly –You can capture so many things in one frame. When you travel with drones and photograph from the air, you can capture the sense of a place.
Fotolia: Do you have any advice for people getting started with drones?
MG: Understand the environment before you shoot it. Being a surfer meant that I understood what good conditioned looked like. When the conditions are good for surfing, that’s usually when the ocean is most attractive. When the winds are off shore, the water is glassy and reflective of the good light.
JW: When I’m photographing, I’m looking for something I’ve never see before. Try to photograph something that’s unique and odd, and work it. Move your drone around, angle the camera up and down, shoot at 45 degrees, shoot straight down, shoot a landscape, shoot a horizon. Move and try to capture all different angles.
Fotolia: Can you say a few words to reflect on your time in Tahiti?
JW: I don’t know what’s more beautiful, the landscape or the people. The people are the friendliest people I’ve ever met – they are so welcoming. They are genuinely there when you talk to them, and they’re interested in you. There’s a feeling here that is hard to describe, but easy to pick up.
MG: I’ve never been to a country where I’ve felt so relaxed. Everybody here looks you in the eye, smiles, and says hello. There’s not awkwardness. The water is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.