A Lethal Moment: The Death of a Daredevil Photographer
Most photographers want to capture the perfect shot that almost no one else can get, but sometimes the effort can be deadly.
This is what happened this past Thursday evening to daredevil urbex photographer and extreme sports enthusiast Remi Lucidi when he lost his footing outside the 68th floor of a Hong Kong skyscraper.
The 30-year-old had spent years capturing nerve-wracking aerial shots along the edges of some of the world’s tallest buildings, where he’d often balance himself with no safety equipment.
After falling hundreds of feet to his death, he finally paid a price that’s far from uncommon among those who practice this kind of work.
Lucidi was also known as “Remi Enigma” on his Instagram page and a whole collection of his previous shots is still there showcasing the extremes of capturing rarified views in our urban world.
In what was to be his last adventure on Earth, Lucidi checked into a hostel after arriving in the skyscraper-packed city of Hong Kong on July 17th.
Just a few days later, at 6:00 pm on the evening of August 27th, he gained access to the 721-foot-tall Tregunter Tower after telling a security guard that he was visiting a friend on the upper levels.
As soon as the guard let him in, Remi Enigma made his way to the top floor where he was able to force open a door onto the roof. This is where security footage recorded him alive for the last time.
Shortly afterward, things went disastrously wrong, even by the normal standards of this already extremely dangerous hobby.
Apparently, Lucidi became trapped outside the building and eventually was desperate enough to signal for help from a maid by knocking on a window. This prompted the woman to call the police, but by the time they arrived, it was too late.
Lucidi’s body, along with his camera and other equipment, were found lying on a patio near the base of the enormous building.
One source commented to the South China Morning Post, “It is possible that he got trapped outside the penthouse while practicing an extreme sport in the building, and he knocked on the window for help but accidentally fell to his death,”
What exactly made Lucidi fall this time, after years of spidering his way to truly extreme edges and corners along so many treacherous structures will probably remain unknown.
Then again, this is also how this particular sport just is sometimes, a game of luck in which even experienced adventurers randomly get dealt a lethal hand.
Lucidi had already traveled around much of the world looking for stunning (and stunningly dangerous) shots prior to his abrupt death.
In March of this year, he posted a photo of himself and friends sitting on a rooftop inside the radioactive exclusion zone around Chornobyl in Ukraine.
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Other photos on his Instagram profile show Remi Enigma standing on or clinging to the tops of towers, spires and spindly structures in Bulgaria, Dubai, Portugal and Bangkok, among other cities.
Lucidi had even been busy with other daredevil stunts in just the days immediately before his death. His last posted shot is of himself on top of a tower in Hong Kong’s Times Square, added on July 24th.
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One of Remi Enigma’s other recent shots was taken from another tower in Bulgaria.
This he uploaded just a month ago along with the eerily prophetic caption: “Life is too short to chase unicorns” followed by a little skull emoticon.
Lucidi is far from the first victim of bad luck in the small world of extreme urban exploration photography.
Just a couple of months before Lucidi’s death, there was the case of 22-year-old Conrad Rybicki, who had spent weeks sneaking up to the rooftops of numerous towers in the city of Toronto, Canada.
His luck suddenly ran out on May 23 when Rybicki fell to his death from a large building in the city’s downtown core.
In a later interview, Rykicki’s own father made a warning for anyone considering the same sport: “You cannot compare it with sports or having hobbies. This is so deadly. One small mistake can end your life,”
Based on Lucidi’s last quote from one of his photos, he seemed perfectly aware of this exact risk, but simply didn’t care.
Other extreme urban photography deaths in recent years also include those of Chinese rooftopper Wu Yongning and Russian Andrey Retrovsky, but there have been many others before and since.
This specific kind of misfortune isn’t just something that takes the lives of younger people either:
In 2017, 44-year-old urban explorer Eric Paul Janssen, died after plunging from the 20th floor of a riverfront hotel in Chicago, Illinois while taking photos along the building’s edge. In Janssen’s case, he fell 14 stories to his death on a 6th-floor rooftop.
Venturing to the very bleeding edge of where it’s possible to explore with a camera can create a truly deep rush for any photographer who wants an insane shot. This is par for the course when it comes to photo opportunities the vast majority of people simply can’t bring themselves to hunt down.
However, even along these extreme margins of photography, there will be others competing for the same thing, further pushing the danger to life and limb toward intolerable levels of risk.
Whether this is worth its ephemeral excitement, followed by a few thousand social media followers, is a decision any photographer tempted into the same should weigh very carefully.
Image credits: Remi Lucidi