Friday, May 31, 2013
That song ‘Highway to the Danger Zone’ from the movie ‘Top Gun’ MIGHT have been running through my mind as I approached Časlav Air Base, an hour by train from Prague. But I hate that song, so it wasn’t.
My mission (I chose to accept it): travel from Berlin to Prague to Časlav to take detail photographs of one of their more popular jet fighters and send them back to the States for analysis and study.
The plane in question was fenced off—as is customary at these open day, public air shows on military bases. This is part of my photography mission that proves most interesting: convincing military personnel that it is okay for me to take hundreds of detail shots of one of their most expensive pieces of military hardware. Naturally, the soldier at the fence asked me ‘why?’
Fortunately, I had the mission brief with me. It clearly showed my employer, a model airplane builder in the States, his unfinished model of the jetfighter, and a shot list. Once I went through the list with the soldier and convinced him I was not a spy on a secret mission to steal precious Czech Air Force secrets, he lifted the gate and let me in.
I proceeded to take my shots; hundreds of detail shots were needed for authenticity in the highly competitive model airplane show circuit. None of the jetfighter detail shots are pictured here, as they are of no particular artistic merit. Plus the Czech government might get nervous.
As a professional commercial photographer who covers Germany and the Czech Republic, I often take on jobs other than my usual event/portrait/wedding mainstays. Often I take technical photos of factories, buildings and industrial processes. Some jobs are more artistic than others. I don’t mind. I love what I do and that I get to travel to do it. And the variety of jobs I’m hired to do is nice as well.
As a portrait photographer I spend most of my time capturing images of people, couples, lifestyle and environmental portraits for many purposes. So naturally I couldn’t refuse the urge to take a few shots of the people at the air show. A soldier handing a rocket launcher to a small child is something you don’t see every day (in Europe at least). A plane flipping through the air with loops of smoke standing out against an approaching rain cloud is something else I don’t get to photograph every day.