It’s funny as you get older the things that start meaning more to you. When you’re a kid all you can think about is the next toy or the next game that will be more fun then the last. In some ways being a photographer is like being an adult kid. We travel a lot, we meet a lot of people, we get to play with really awesome toys and we decide when we want to share the results. One thing that I have truly come to enjoy and treasure are my books, which ironically, I never liked reading when I was a kid.
Books don’t just look good in a home or office they are a gateway to more knowledge. Knowledge is truly an important thing when it comes to each owns photography because the more you know about a subject the better your photographs will be. When it comes to Aviation or Wildlife photography, knowing your biology is key to getting that one great shot or knowing about where that particular plane flew and fought helps when planning an air to air. It’s simple to think about afterward but it’s so critical in the planning of any shoot is that knowledge. Sometimes it’s best when you can’t think of what to shoot next it’s best to put down the camera and pick up a book.
I just got done reading my 6th book of the year. A little slow this year but still grateful to have time to read that many books. Well the latest one is called Hell Hawks. This book came out last year and is all about the 365 fighter group known as the Hell Hawks, and their role during WWII in the European Theater. It’s an amazing story that is expertly written. If you have ever wondered what the role of the P-47 was or how much it affected the war then this a great read for you. It took me a month to read this book solely because I didn’t want it to stop. If you have the time I suggest picking up a copy.
This is the P-47D Razorback, 42-74742, “Snafu,” painted in the scheme of Lt Severino B Calderon part of the 84th Fighter Squadron, which I was able to photograph at Planes of Fame this past May.
It’s the New Year and that means new promises to oneself for improving the quality of life. Everyone has a new year resolution and no matter how big or small it might be, whatever it is, it’s important to you. One thing that might get overlooked but can be the best gift you can give yourself is knowledge. Now that can come in many different forms but it can only be obtained if you really try. Whether it’s through the radio, television, web or even a book, spend some time each day and learn something new. You never know when that one thing you might learn can come into play in your life. With photography that knowledge can mean new ideas and inspiration for photographs which is always a good thing.
A very important aspect of photography is acquiring new information to use in your images. Depending on your field of interest that might vary where you obtain that information. Everything from blogs, magazines, books, radio, television etc. All of these outlets are great ways to gather those little tidbits that make you stop and go, “hey what if I try this with the camera?”
One thing I was encouraged to do both from my Dad and my professors in college was to have an idea book. Nothing more than a basic journal entry where i wrote down interesting ideas, websites I hear about, books that sound interesting, possible photo shoots, anything that might spark an idea later on. With technology making life so convenient these days it’s really simple to write down a note on the old iPhone or iPad and then save it for later. I encourage everyone as they go about their daily routine to think about doing this, because you never know when one of those little thoughts might just come back and make a big difference in your life.
As I have progressed into Aviation Photography, it has become important to learn more and more about the history of these planes. Thankfully someone decided a long time ago to start writing down the stories about these boys and what they went through, that way one day the rest of the world could know too. However, it’s not as often you run across books that tell the story from the other side of the war.
Back in December I first heard about this book that was supposed to be like nothing else out there. My Dad got it for Christmas and after reading it he was in awe of the book. He texted saying, “I just finished A Higher Call, you need to read it so I bought you a copy.” I can honestly say that once I started reading I didn’t want to stop. Although I could have finished in a day I spread it out over a couple of weeks, savoring every word. A Higher Call is about a German Fighter Pilot who led a very interesting life in WWII. He tells his story of how he was fighting for the people and not the leaders. If you ever thought that all Germans were bad in that time, then you should read this book. It’s not like any other. When my friends ask me what I have been reading and I say aviation history, they always ask if any of its interesting. Although most of the books I can’t suggest because they aren’t for everyone’s taste; too many numbers, stats, and dates, I do recommend Unbroken by Laura Hillendbrand and now A Higher Call by Adam Makos.
It seems like lately less and less value is being placed on books. With more stores closing due to people purchasing online books or simply getting their information on the internet in some way, I have to wonder what the future will hold for the legacy of the story. As photographers we all face the challenge of archiving our work. A permanent legacy of what we have achieved and the stories that we spent years telling. How much history now is recorded only on computers, no longer on the pages? The one problem with digital that all who know this argument is that it requires power to keep the archive alive. That’s the flaw with digital.
I won’t argue that we are at a point where knowledge can be gained quite easily. It’s practically at our fingertips. There is still something about a physical book that is more appealing. Not that I like forests being destroyed to make them, but books are permanent as long as they are taken care of. Reading a book is not just about a story it’s a mark of accomplishment that you had the discipline to sit down and read. Maybe I’m just ranting for the sake of ranting but there is warmth in those books that isn’t there in the iPads, or Kindles, or any computer. And that’s a big part of it.
I knew since i was a little kid that my brother was smarter than me, it’s nothing personnel it’s just the way it is. I was always more into the outdoors, creative, whatever side but he was always more of the technically, understood computers and the codes behind how everything works side. When we were younger we would a play Xbox and I would always go through the main quest but he would always go through the code and make the background in the games. Well he took that knowledge and applied it the app world.
After already making a very successful and knowledgeable BTJ app for my Dad he has gone on to create the first Aviation Photography Book. The entire book is about the challenges and rewards of photographing airplanes. From the basics of camera gear and computer processing techniques to the challenges of gaining the trust of the pilots and owners to go on to do some of the coolest things ever with airplanes. If you aren’t interested in this app yet well, head to Moose’s site and see for your self. If you are intrigued then head to the Itunes store and search for either Moose Peterson, Brent Peterson or the book title Taking Flight. It’s worth your time!
For anyone out there like myself, who enjoys spending quality time reading, especially now that it’s Spring and being outside it so nice, then I have a recommendation fro you. A book that i just finished reading, Whistling Death, goes deep into the engineering factors of test piloting the F4U Corsair. It’s written by Boone Guyton, who sadly is no longer with us, and test pilot of the Corsair. It’s truly an amazing story with lots of facts, personal insights of the time and an inspiring story of how one man was so lucky. If you’re into Aviation History, or planes, or engineering then it’s a good read for you.
Well if you are like me and have a hard time figuring out good but simple things to give for the holidays then here’s an idea for you. Recently I finished reading Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand. Same author of Seabiscuit. The story is about a Louis Zamperini who competed in the 1936 Summer Olympic Games and then went into the US Army Flying B24’s. His plane went down over the Pacific and story of survival began. It is truly an amazing story of what he struggled through in order to survive throughout the war. Bare in mind this is not a light read it does have some truly horrific parts in it but is very much a worth while read.
Part of my job, and is for all photographers, is to bring to attention good places to find material that is useful for your photography to grow. It’s not always easy to find such places or such material but it is necessary. My Dad is real good at that, he has been doing this photography thing for so long that it seems to come naturally to him. For me, I’m still learning but that comes with time. Since i started in Aviation Photography I have been trying to learn the history behind these planes. There is so much to learn about these planes, from the paint jobs, to the mechanics of how the engine works, to the pilots themselves, it just seems endless.
Recently i finished reading To Fly and Fight. It’s about Bud Anderson a triple ace in WWII with 16 1/4 kills. It is fascinating to hear his story from being a farm boy to becoming the head of fly operations at Edwards Air force Base, including test piloting several aircraft. I have to warn you this book isn’t just facts. It’s a true pilots perspective of being in the Air Force; the challenges, the joys, the pains and the life. Give it a read, it’s worth your time.