Rooftopping -- Don't Ever Do It

yeshi-kangrang-roof topping.jpg
(photo by Yeshi Kangrang)

Social media has a deadly side. If someone does something that hasn't been done before and becomes famous for posting it on social media, it can instantly become a challenge or a new thing, no matter the risks involved. 

Rooftopping -- illegally free-climbing the skyscraper or tall-building rooftops -- should not be your shortcut to fame. Or likes. Yes, the images are stunning, but the cost is too high. Nothing is worth losing your life over to become Insta-famous... NOTHING. 

wu yonging .jpg
(photo by Wu Yongning)

Why do we sound like a PSA today? Ask Wu Yongning, a 26-year-old Chinese man, who recently slipped fell while live-streaming himself trying to do pull-ups from the top edge of a 65-story building. 

What's that? You can't ask him because he's dead? 


So, why do people do it? Photographer Tom Ryaboi, one of the crusaders of Rooftopping, tries to answer those questions in an interview with Kerry McQueeney for the Daily Mail.

'It's addictive and I am always looking for a higher roof in the city. But I still 
feel the buzz whenever I reach the top and feel the wind. It's a pure rush of 

Disguising themselves so they can carry out their daring stunts, the thrill 
seekers avoid security and CCTV before climbing to the top of skyscrapers 
and hanging off the edge - photographing the evidence as proof of their antics.

Tom added: 'I try to blend in as much as possible. In an office building I dress
 like I work there, on a construction site I dress like the workmen.

'It's in my blood. When I was a child one day, my dad came home from work 
and found me sitting on top of the fridge.

'They had no idea how I had got there, but obviously I just liked climbing things.'

Tom Ryaboi city.jpg
(photo by Tom Ryaboi)

Tom Ryaboi may be comfortable taking the risk, but we hope our readers and fellow photographers know the difference between risks worth taking and ones that are never worth the risk. Don't climb skyscrapers to take pictures. Don't shoot on active rail lines. Don't wander into the wilderness without telling people exactly where you are going.

Photography is life-affirming and inspirational and amazing. And using your artistic talents to build a personal brand and chase fame, that's fine too. I hope you succeed.

But no photograph is worth dying for. Ever.