Before Go-Pro

Years before mini hand helds, the pioneers of the POV risked everything to get the shot.
Hero beforego pro header

May 27, 2014 | By Nicholas Pell

GoPro calls itself the world's most versatile camera. And to be sure, there are some pretty cool things you can do with a camera you can stick on just about anything. It's one thing to watch skydiving from the third-person perspective -- It's a whole other thing to watch it from the first. Seeing NASCAR from a bird's eye view has nothing on seeing it from the perspective of the guy driving the car. But how new is the GoPro approach?

Easier, sure. New? Not so much. Safer? Definitely. Back in the 1960s, you used to just have to mount a whole human on the hood of a car to get action shots like GoPro provides now. Either that or you'd have to make your own goofy-looking contraption to mount on your helmet. 

Pretty impossible to look cool that way, unless you're Steve McQueen, in which case you always look cool. He wore a head-mounted cam (actually, he just taped a camera to his helmet) to get solid footage for Le Mans, then donned it again for the lesser known 1971 documentary on motorcycle racing, On Any Sunday

Part of what makes it easier these days is that with current photographic technology, basically anyone can be a somewhat passable photographer. No so back in the day and certainly not so if you're looking to get a decent shot of something traveling over one hundred miles per hour. Back then, photography was a bit like app development: The domain of nerds and hobbyists, not the average Joe. 

There's an added bit of awesomeness about this: Nowadays, anyone can throw down a couple hundred bucks and have a camera ready to record any adventure that they like. Back in Steve McQueen's day, you needed an insane amount of gear, the knowledge to use it, the skill to make the right mounting and the brass to be willing to put all that expensive gear in a totally high-risk situation. 

Our hats go off to the GoPro guys of a bygone era. These were true explorers who went out on a limb to boldly record what no man had ever recorded before.

All Images via Kottke