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Why I Started Shooting Aerial Images (Or Why I Went To The Sky)

I remember my wife leaving on a business trip to Jacksonville last February.

There had already been lots of news about a new novel coronavirus that had originated in Asia, and was spreading across the globe, mainly via air travel.

I recall telling her jokingly as I was driving her to the airport, “try not to breathe too much.”

While we knew that eventually the virus would reach our country just as it had in other parts of the world, we really hadn’t any idea that it would be as severe, or that it might affect our lives as drastically as it did.

My work very often involves human interaction.

Meeting with clients, art directors, curators, fellow photographers, models, vendors, and other friends is simply and succinctly a welcomed necessity.

So, when the severity and seriousness of the pandemic became apparent, public policy and perception shifted, and suddenly everyone was still.

No one moved much, unless they had to. Travel was restricted, businesses interrupted, and most creative collaborations and productions were put on hold or cancelled altogether.

As I often think of such things as part of a collective consciousness or part of a much larger community, I first wondered how artists would thrive in such an environment. I saw with a very sympathetic understanding how fellow artists were living this sudden life of “quiet desperation.”

In just the two years year prior, I had become aware of, and helped contribute to a NYC organization (ArtRX) that helped provide health care benefits for artists who would otherwise not have such access.

This, I thought, is shaping up to be an exponential magnification of those problems.

After all, if businesses shutter, and people stay home, it can be difficult and often impossible to do a portrait session, visit a gallery showing, or meet with a publisher.

Next, I thought of how I personally might be able to remain on a creative path without endangering myself or others.

Since I was a kid, I’ve had the same dreams of being able to fly.

What if I could fly above everyone and everything with camera in hand??

I was intrigued and encouraged by the notion.

So, I casually enter the nerdy, technical, artistic, competitive, and rewarding world of flying cameras.

My objective was a simple one; to be able to make images without proximity to others.

I could shoot a building, a landscape, an editorial scene, or even a person from hundreds of feet away!

In April, I purchased my second drone.

I’d bought one a few years earlier, and was able to get a couple of neighborhood aerial images on a shoddy camera.

While that was exciting, it wasn’t quite what I was looking for at that time. My second aircraft turned out to be a significant improvement over the cheaply constructed toy I’d tried out a few short years prior.

The promise of high-resolution images from nearly any height, angle, or distance was a lure that I could not resist, and of which I continue to be very fond.

I shot everything. I practiced cinematic techniques and learned editing tips for video.

I studied for a week or two and obtained an FAA Part 107 commercial drone license in June, because even artists who want to sell creative or commercial content made with a drone must be licensed.

My penchant for magical landscapes, waterscapes or street scenes remained, and I slowly started to integrate them into the workflow with my “flying cameras.”

I’m as excited and optimistic as I have ever been about the work I’m doing and planning now, both on the ground, in the water, and in the air.

I’m in constant excited anticipation of the opportunity, as Thoreau said, to “live deliberately.”

An artistic revolution is coming.

fueled by technology, connectedness, and creative vision.

Let us embrace it, and in one more shameless and reverent nod to Walden, we’ll discover that we have “truly lived.”


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