Friday, April 23, 2010



A while back, I got a book of photos from Garry Winogrand titled Arrivals and Departures. The book was full of shots he got traveling through airports. The story was, Winogrand was nervous about flying, so he took photos all over the airport to calm his nerves -- the result being some of the finest candid photography ever taken anywhere, much less in an airport.

Why shoot in an airport? It has a lot going for it photographically:

  • Lots of people
  • Lots of light (check out those windows!)
  • Lots of scale -- big planes, tiny people, stuff in between
  • Lots of architecture -- not always good, but frequently unlike most other things
  • Lots of unbearable human misery
I like traveling to new places. Big fan of history, and now that I'm into photography, I find that going to a different place is a great way to give yourself "new eyes". The only real problem is that getting to a lot of interesting places means flying.

If the delays, the skin-flinted airlines, the shitty food, the overpriced wi-fi, or those loud beep-y carts aren't bad enough, I work in computer security. That means every bit of security I go through is a little like sending a modern-era graduate of John Hopkins through a Civil War era surgical tent. There's a lot of suffering and misery, and occasionally somebody survives -- but not for lack of trying on the part of the catgut surgeons.

So, while I'm not neurotic about flying (really, my biggest beef about the actual planes is that they're boring), I do kind of need something in airports to keep my mind off how poorly things are run. I've taken to keeping my camera with me and out, trying to catching something in the good light.

This is probably my favorite airport photo so far -- lots of sweep and drama, and as a bonus it convinced me I really could take awesome images with my janky 28mm.

My advice: Keep those cameras out once you make it past security at the airport.

Um, and don't blame me if you end up in some off the record prison camp because the TSA goon who catches you shoots Canon and you're walking around with your d700. ;)

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