Written by Oscar Holland, NCS

For many vacationers, empty runways and features of grounded planes characterize the frustrations of the previous yr. For aerial photographer Tom Hegen, nevertheless, the disruption precipitated to the world’s airports by Covid-19 provided a once-in-a-lifetime alternative.

“I’d had the idea of photographing airports before, but I’d never even thought about requesting (access), because they are super restricted and highly secure,” he stated in a telephone interview from Munich, Germany, the place he lives and works. “Usually, you’d never get a chance to fly a helicopter with an open door over a fully-operational airport. It would be impossible.”

With flights canceled internationally, and air site visitors lowered to a trickle, Hegen tried his luck. And though gaining permission was “long and complicated,” he was ultimately granted entry to 6 of Germany’s largest airports, spending as much as two hours within the skies above every one.

Hegen often incorporated terminal architecture into his aerial shots.

Hegen usually integrated terminal structure into his aerial photographs. Credit: Tom Hegen/Hatje Cantz

The ensuing pictures, introduced collectively in a brand new ebook “Aerial Observations on Airports,” reveal an surprising beauty, with the German photographer discovering moments of symmetry and geometry amid the parked planes. Warehouses, parking tons, containers and terminal buildings all play a job within the surreal pictures, creating a way of scale and, usually, exhibiting patterns of their very own.

Taking what he known as a “graphic approach,” Hegen additionally regarded to the complicated, colourful asphalt markings when setting up his photos. Painted traces indicating taxiways and holding positions created pleasing patterns, whereas concurrently highlighting the complicated techniques underpinning airport operations.

“Some of the photos look like illustrations,” stated Hegen, who additionally works as a graphic designer. “They almost look artificial — as if the lines were added in post-production.”

The photos capture everything from small jets and a helicopter, to cargo planes and commercial jetliners.

The photos seize every thing from small jets and a helicopter, to cargo planes and business jetliners. Credit: Tom Hegen/Hatje Cantz

The world from above

The impeccably composed pictures belie the bodily challenges of taking pictures from a helicopter at round 2,000 ft above floor. Hegen remained in fixed communication with the pilot, who was in flip talking with air site visitors controllers and clearing airspace for the uncommon flights nonetheless in operation.

“Working out of a helicopter is quite challenging, because you’re up against the elements,” stated Hegen, who noticed a number of abroad tasks postponed because of the pandemic. “You have wind coming from the main rotor …(and) it can be so cold that you can’t feel your fingers or press the shutter.”

This is, nevertheless, acquainted territory for Hegen. Specializing in aerial pictures, he usually charters scorching air balloons and small planes for his work, in addition to utilizing personalized drones to seize the world from above.

Related video: Tom Hegen’s aerial photos present human affect on Earth.

His earlier ebook “Habitat” noticed him doc the affect of human exercise on the pure world, from quarries and industrial amenities, to polluted waterways and salt farms made to appear to be summary work. And whereas the photographer is cautious of “pointing the finger,” his photos encourage viewers to contemplate the affect of their consumption.

By distinction, his new airport sequence is extra celebratory in regards to the human complexity discovered at airports. But the photographs elevate confronting questions nonetheless, with Hegen observing that the aviation business has lengthy profited from the very human interconnectivity that has, inadvertently, aided Covid-19’s unfold.

“It’s kind of ironic that the airlines responsible for globalization are losing the most in this pandemic,” he stated.

Tom Hegen: Aerial Observations on Airports,” revealed by Hatje Cantz, is out there now.



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