Final Approach: The hidden art of aviation

Final Approach: The hidden art of aviation

While the year has been full of projects both personal and commissioned, I haven’t had much of a chance to update the blog recently. After a total website revamp that took the site out of commission for a few months, a personal project that doesn’t want to end (though is getting close!) and a two-month filming trip to Hawaii, Mexico, and Charleston, SC, it’s been tough to find motivation to post on here while running all the other “required” social channels. So it is with a great deal of excitement that I’m writing about and sharing a new project, “Final Approach” which I made happen just a couple weeks ago. With a rescheduled job leaving me a very rare empty week, I made something happen that I’ve had a mind to for a couple of years now. Standing on an airport perimeter road (Sepulveda and La Cienega for those wondering) ranks up there with standing in line at a Verizon store in terms of fun, but I spent five whole days doing just that at LAX recently.

Armed (wait, scratch that, don’t want to end up on a list) – equipped – with a camera, a bunch of snacks, water, and a good amount of sunblock I stood right underneath the final approach path for runways 24R and 25L, shooting the underbelly of aircraft as they approached to land. These images revealed so much about the process of travel, something so mundane these days that we hardly pay it a second thought. Amazing patterns of metalwork and rivets, a fascinating game of high-stakes Tetris that reveals how landing gears are tucked away and again released during transoceanic voyages, wear and tear after years of the repetitive stress of landing and taking off, oil and grease stains too stubborn to remove during the demands of a modern-day turnaround, peeling paint and messy hydraulic fluid. Some aircraft look like pristine high-tech spaceships, others like decades-old workhorses, battered and damaged but still functional enough.

The colors and textures reveal just enough of a story to put together where these planes have been and where they go. Immaculately clean, perhaps the flagship A380 of a fleet based in Frankfurt, greasy, scratched, suffering from a rippled fuselage, perhaps a cargo plane, as they say: freight doesn’t complain about the bumpy ride, nor will it care about a dirty plane.

After about a week of shooting at LAX, I had to head to London to complete a project which has taken three attempts to get the proper weather for. Turns out the third time IS a charm after all, as the weather was actually amazing for a solid week. So I did what any normal person would do when in London and visited London Heathrow to continue and expand the Final Approach project. After a couple days of shooting more planes at Heathrow, I feel the project is complete and ready for your eyes. I’m looking forward to seeing these in print and hopefully I’ll be able to hold an exhibition locally. Seeing these at full size (all were shot with a 50mp camera) is something else; being able to read refueling instructions on the bottom of the wing and being able to see individual screw-heads is quite something.

To see the entire series and to purchase prints, head to my gallery store on PurePhoto.

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