Photography has long been associated with aviation; perhaps it’s because some of us on the ground can’t believe our eyes when we see these hulking flying machines—it’s almost as though we continually need reassurance that this is indeed possible, in spite of our knowledge of the physical world.
Witnessing a 1,265,000 pound hunk of metal tearing through the sky at over 600 mph is an everyday occurrence, so most of us don’t take the time to appreciate the absolutely astonishing engineering required to design such vehicles.
A new series of photographs from renowned aviation photographer Mike Kelley of Los Angeles may help you to better understand why he—and so many other photographers—are fascinated by flight.
Kelley’s latest (and arguably most impressive) photographic endeavor has produced pictures that, to many of us, may seem confusing, at first. Spending hours in a single location, taking countless photos of take-offs and landings, and likely spending days in front of the computer, Kelley has provided us with the following amazing pieces of art.
Mike Kelley has the following to say about the aviation community on reddit, which has helped him to chase his dreams and travel all over the world to make these photos a reality:
So I originally posted my first LAX image [on reddit.com]–called ‘Wake Turbulence’ back in 2014. The response was so overwhelmingly positive and it really, as cheesy as it sounds, sort of changed my life. I knew I had to do more of these pictures and luckily having this picture in my portfolio really opened the door for me to do so. Over the next couple years I flew all over the world (not in one straight trip, mind you :)) to create similar images using similar techniques. The project sort of became an obsession for me–using google maps, learning to read METARs, listening to ATC, working out schedules of planes coming and going to get the most interesting aircraft and liveries in each shot.
The video below documents a bit of Kelley’s process.
Kelley’s work photographing aircraft has won him work with Los Angeles World Airports, Delta Airlines, Emirates Airlines, Auckland International Airport Ltd, and other high-profile clients. His photography has garnered him many awards and is quickly ascending the ranks of aircraft photographers the world over.
From his website:
A native of Ipswich Massachusetts, Mike studied Studio Art and Environmental Science at the University of Vermont before venturing out to Lake Tahoe, California in hopes of becoming a professional snowboarder. A couple of years and countless injuries later, Mike found himself taking up an offer to photograph a few homes for a developer friend he met while recuperating. What started out by chance turned out to be the perfect mix of technicality and creativity for Mike, and he was immediately hooked with photographing architecture and interiors.
Mike is known for his light-painting method of photography, where he uses both natural and artificial light to artistically capture indoor and outdoor spaces. Every single image is meticulously crafted with expert attention to detail. Mike strives to create fun, laid-back environments when shooting, whether it be a small house or a downtown skyscraper overlooking the ocean.
Check out the full portfolio here!