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It is hard to tell where the idea of the project “Russia From Above” came from. I was learning about the creations of the western maîtres of the artistic aerial photography in the course of my own work. Of course now many of them serve as the benchmarks for me.

Classics of the genre - the book "Earth seen from the top" by Ian Arthus Bertrand - became both a desk book and a kind of quality standard.

I can spend hours looking at the fantastic patterns of the Iceland’s and Australian landscapes, captured by Klaus Franke.

I get invaluable lessons of courage and professionalism from talking to my friend - Canadian photographer Carl Hiebert. More than 30 years ago Carl broke his back in an accident on a hang glider. Forced to move in a wheelchair, Charles became an instructor of flying the microlight aircraft, flew all over Canada: from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean, and made a beautiful photo album. (Ultralight plane - the device that is a little bigger than a hang glider: fabric wings on a frame of aluminum tubing, the motor and the pilot's seat. Dashboard is very small. Small shield for the wind protection.) Now, Carl continues to take pictures and travel, collecting funds for charities at the same time. He has already collected about a million dollars.

After spending first years of life in a room without facilities with the size of seven square meters I learned to love boundless spaces. Besides this almost Freudian motif, I guess that the strongest driving factor was, no matter how trivially it sounds, love of the country where I was born.

An endless series of local and world problems falls on us every day, leaving indelible raid on the gloomy faces of the compatriots.I really don't want to get bogged down in the bad mood untill the end and turn into an incurable grouch.

What should than an incorrigible optimist do? Get on a plane, helicopter, balloon, and once again prove yourself that the country that we live in is boudless and wonderful! And, thanks to the profession, it is in my power to bring down to earth (depending on the talent and luck) the clear evidence of this beauty.

When I had just started photography, it wasn't as smooth as I it was intended. Neither my climbing past nor the substantial experience as an Aeroflot passenger helped me. It is not hard to imagine what does the photographer experience during the flight. Take ten trips on the carousel in a row in the nearby holiday park. Don't forget to take your army binoculars with you. Once the carousel picks up the speed - try to see through the binoculrs at the world around you, then try to focus on any detail - bird on a tree or a friend who affably waves to you from the ground.

If by the end of the tenth trip you can confidently stand on your feet than you are quite suitable for the astronaut or the aerial photographer. After the first aerofotosession that lasted for five hours I fell down on the grass and was not able to move. Looking from the ground at the smooth flight of hot air balloons, I had an illusion that shooting from the balloon would be the same as in a studio. Fly and shoot. As it turned out, for each of the burner flame puffing the ball pulled up and I had the same feeling as if my head was seared with an iron and the greasy soot falls on the invaluable photography devices.

I had a special adventure when landing as a balloon passenger for the first time. Confident young pilot broke the network of the telegraph wires with the slings and drove into a swamp with a great acceleration. My lenses survived by the miracle. (Later, I have met with an ace of the aeronautics Lev Borisovich Mavrin. He is a woonderful wizard who can seamlessly as a feather, land the balloon on the open body of the UAZ car).

As it turns out - you get used to the exercises. After the first hundred of hours spent in the air tiredness remains the only uncomfortable symptom.

However it is impossible to get used to the fantastic landscape in a window. It doesn’t matter what I managed to photograph on that day - a strict geometric pattern of the St. Peter and St. Paul Fortress, goose flock spilled over the Ob river or the lake in the crater of the volcano in Kamchatka – while landing on the ground I catch myself on the same thought: "How beautiful the flight was!"

Serguei Fomine