STORYTELLING IN AVIATION PHOTOGRAPHY

I used to shoot more aviation on the ground than in the air, but the past years the ground-air ratio slowly moved towards the air. Nowadays, when it comes to shooting aviation, I mostly shoot air to air pictures. And no matter how much fun it is to do these flights, I was very happy to be able to shoot some ground stuff on the first day of the Airpower show in Zeltweg; Austria.

We (Aviation PhotoCrew) had just finished 3 days of flying air to air flights in sunny weather above some stunning landscapes. The first show day saw some rainy, cloudy and cold weather. I ended up photographing absolutely nothing until at the end of the day I was on the apron taking some snaps of the Belgian F-16. After its departure the crew of the Saab Draken arrived and I decided to take some pictures of the crew preparing the plane. I spent about half an hour taking pictures and ended up with a  series I really liked because it tells a story and shows the human side of aviation.

The thing I like is that every picture tells something. The pictures below show the preparations before the pilot gets in the cockpit. Checking the cockpit, cleaning the canopy, filling in checklists and preparing the gear.

Next on the pilot gets in and the waiting game starts while other displays are going on.

Starting the engines and waiting for the taxi out.

While the sound of the screaming engines fade away all that remains is the surprisingly small amount of gear and the surprisingly big load of oil (and/or fuel) on the ground. As I walk away I snap a last shot of the jet passing by.

Usually when I edit I don’t make a series. I just edit the picture the way I think is good. And every picture is different so I often end up editing in different ways. But to make this story into a visually coherent series I decided to edit them all the same way. Since there were only some very desaturated and bleak colors in the original files I went for an all black and white series which in my opinion works pretty well on these photos. There also was a whole lot of selective editing going on to get some more contrast in the clouds and to put the focus on the faces (in some of the pictures).

In the end I’m happy how these came out and it felt good to see some storytelling in the series.

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