A high-rise photographer’s view from the top
Sanjog Mhatre fell in love with high-rises as a teen and dreamed of being allowed to the roofs so he could shoot from them. Persistence paid off and he’s now paid, by developers, to do just that.
It’s the ultimate outsider’s view. Sanjog Mhatre was 18 when he first accessed the roof of a high-rise and gasped at (and captured) the view.
He’d always loved photography. And he’d loved skyscrapers so much, he used to collect photos of views from high-rises around the world; just save them off the internet so he could look at them.
He’d gaze at real-estate billboards and dream that one day a photograph he’d taken would be up there too. And now he’s doing, if not just that, something very similar.
The young man who started out struggling for access so he could shoot high-rises and shoot from high-rises is now getting commissions to do just that, from some of the biggest brands in the business.
Perseverance turned out to be the key. “I had approached several buildings requesting them to grant me access to shoot using just my cellphone,” Mhatre says. “Fortunately, in 2015, the project manager of one high-rise, Ahuja Towers, agreed. Those were my first posts on my Instagram page — @Towering_Goals. It captured Mumbai, from the 55th floor.”
Two years later, Mhatre gained access to the rooftop of the 48-storey residential tower Indiabulls Sky, via a senior sales manager. This time he was armed with a DSLR he had borrowed from a friend, and in exchange for permission to shoot, Mhatre offered Indiabulls the right to use the images in their publicity material.
His first paid assignment came the same year. Emmay Entertainment asked for a cityscape from the top of a tower. Mhatre’s passion was becoming something of a career. He now had regular posts going up on @Towering_Goals. “Work was coming in and has kept coming in ever since,” says Mhatre, now 23.
He has shot the World Towers for the Lodha Group, and worked on shoots for Raheja Universal. In all, Mhatre says he has shot from the tops of 133 buildings, always picking unusual angles, views and weather conditions.
Last monsoon, he shot Lodha Venezia and Lodha Azzuro, both in the heart of Mumbai, at twilight with dramatic results. “The pictures were taken as a storm hit the city. It was getting dark. At one point, I was exposed, on the edge of the 50th floor of one of the buildings, in bad weather,” Mhatre says. “These skyscrapers were peeking above low-lying rain-laden clouds. In the image you see these skyscrapers standing strong in the violent yet beautiful storm, amid the blues of twilight and the light of a rain-drenched metropolis.”
Mhatre opted out of a graduate-level film course last year, and is now focused on letting his work speak for him. Meanwhile, he’s dreaming a new dream: to someday live inside one of the buildings he so loves. “I want to make this happen… or to at least buy some property somewhere,” he says.