Armed with cameras, they climb, often illegally, some of the world’s tallest structures. They’re in search of new sensations — or just new vantage points from which to admire the world.
Their names are Vitaliy Raskalov, Vadim Makhorov, Daniel Lau, Tom Ryaboi, Alexander Remnev and Kirill Oreshkin, and they’re not afraid to appear in the stunning and vertigo-inducing images they snap hundreds of feet above ground, as part of a trend known as rooftopping.
“We were curious to get to where you can’t shoot,” says the Russian duo Raskalov and Makhorov, known as On the Roofs. “With our photos, we try to show people the cities they know, but from unusual angles. From the ground, you can’t see such [things].”
The pair always searches for particularly high buildings — or ones that are highly symbolic — from Shanghai to Cairo, New York to Chicago. “They should offer stunning views,” Raskalov and Makhorov tell TIME. “The quality of our images is also [an important factor]. We use the Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 6D. It may seem inconvenient to carry big cameras to such heights, but we’re used to it.”
Despite their newfound fame — many such climbers regularly receive sponsorship deals — Raskalov and Makhorov are still on the hunt for new structures to climb. “It doesn’t affect what we do.”
Myles Little, who edited this photo essay, is an associate photo editor at TIME.