Day to Night, with Stephen and Bette Wilkes
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Here's your host Alan White's greetings and welcome to the beach photography podcast today will be presenting an episode recorded with photographer Steven wilks and producer and life partner Betty Wilkes about their incredible tenure photo odyssey taking pictures for Stephen Signature Day to night photo series but before we get into that we wanna take a moment to recognize the passing a few photographers including at least in our minds a couple of legends about two weeks ago we heard about the death of fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh known mostly for his black can white work in the eighties and nineties that defined the era of supermodels Pitas work issued unnecessary gloss in favor of stark images that showed beauty in all its forms he was also sought after by musicians and filmmakers including shooting album covers for Tina Turner Jane Birkin and beyond say just yesterday it was announced that photographer musician and musicologist. He's a columnist John Cohen passed away in addition to founding the new lost city ramblers John recorded traditional folk music and photographed musicians including Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. He's also one of the most important documentarian of the abstract expressionist art movement and writers from the generation last week we also learned to the passing Canadian Canadian photographer Fred Hers Hers was a medical photographer but his vibrant color street photography of Vancouver and the Pacific Northwest in the nineteen fifties and sixties. If these is what calls our attention today he was a pioneer of the artistic use of color photography finally on September ninth the photo world lost a master Robert Frank who died in Nova Scotia like her Zog who emigrated from Germany and is known for his work to find in Canada frank came to the US from Switzerland in nineteen fifties and blew the doors off documentary photography with his book the Americans it's hard to underestimate the influence this book has had on generations of photographers including eating everyone in this room and if you're not familiar with the book find a copy and enjoy it not one to rest on past success frank was also a filmmaker and an artist who continued tend to push the photographic boundaries throughout his life. Take the time to look up these four grades last week. We were fortunate enough to be invited to the bryce Walcott's gallery for the opening of the print exhibit of date tonight as well as the book launch. If you cannot make it to New York before October twenty sixth seize massive and amazingly gorgeous prints do yourself a favor and find the book published by Tashin. It's also a massive equally gorgeous just not quite as expensive as one hundred thousand dollar Prince. I got a copy. It is stunning in April two thousand eighteen we welcome Steven and Betty to our studio to discuss the making of this project which I think is fair to say employed floyd production efforts on the scale of epic film locations in the Seren Geddy Times Square in Shanghai as well as a national parks and abandoned islands to creed even one images complex these would be impressive that they have shot all corners of the world producing an unrivalled collection of photographs that brings a new perspective not only to the locations a photograph but to the idea of time itself we also discussed the photographic elements from workflow to gear to post process join us for this in-depth indepth enjoyable conversation at checkout data night the book from Tashin and the Gallery series at Bryce Wolfowitz in New York City okay so here we are and here's Stephen and Daddy Wilkes. Today's topic is the a series of photographs that you guys have been working on Cold Day tonight and it is I am vicious to say the least just a fast intro. They're not time lapse. They're not time exposures but they are a record uh of an entire day's activity in one location career summarized in one photograph and it is still a photograph even though it's a collage lodge montage wherever you want to describe it but it's one photograph that takes in day tonight and it's amazing betty. You are the the mechanism mix. All of this happened in this relationship ship. What are the seeds of this particular project? Where did it start in witted? What was the first photograph that you did in the series? While the first photograph off was the high line and Steven was asked to shoot that by the photo editor at New York magazine Jody Quon and she she came to him and and we sit in our offices with our back to each other and I hear him talking to her on the phone saying God jody. I love the high line during the day but I also love it night. What about if I did it a picture for you where where I shot north to south and combined data night and one photograph and I'm listening to him and he's going? I don't know I don't know and and and and he says but I'm going to figure it out. He hangs up and I turn around and say how are you going to do that because I don't know but I am. I'M GONNA figure it out but we were you immediately thinking production as soon as that I was immediately thinking Oh my God what what what what. What are we going to do here? How how am I gonNA get information? They were furious already. Had this bubbling your head for a while because you don't just volunteer to do something like that unless you got something cooking back there I think there's a it's funny the first of all I could never even come up with that idea. If I didn't have my wife Betty who was just such an amazing partner in terms she takes care of so many aspects of the business that allow me to sort of float like that creatively you know and then he has no question about it so yeah I I get to float and sometimes when I float things like this happen where I get at this intersection and for me it was it was a thing that happened. When I was years ago nineteen it was just sixteen years ago when I did a photograph for for life magazine Baz lamb film Romeo Juliet and it was there where the idea or the concept of of actually creating time change in an image sort of jumped out at me I was asked to do a panoramic photograph of the set of of the film with all the cast and crew and it was essentially I was paying homage to the the old big pictures that life magazine used to do and when I got to Mexico to do this photograph and I'm all set to a big wide picture? The set is a square and I'm like I'm going to make a three page gate fold out of a square and at the time David Hockney was doing this really exciting of the photo collage technique where shooting multiple images and pasting them together and I was inspired by then I said wait a second. I kind of do that kind of an idea I instead of taking one picture we'll take like two hundred and fifty images of the entire set and essentially took the square opened it into a panoramic shape and in the process of making that photograph I had Claire Danes and Leonardo in the center of the photograph and I had them embracing as Romeo and Juliet and you see everybody the cast and crew behind him and then as I pan my camera and started taking multiple double images there was a huge mirror literally on the on the set and in that mirror you could see a perfect reflection of Claire and Leonardo and the cast and crew as well and I asked just for that one photograph I could everybody stay exactly as you are except Clarin Leonardo. I want you guys to kiss for this one photograph and then I came back to New York. Can I put put this thing together over like seven days it was a I have such respect for Hockney. I Never WanNa do that again but I actually looked at the finished composite. Is it images this collage created and I changed time I had them embracing in the center in the reflection they were kissing and that idea of of actually changing time in a photograph is where that actually was seated and I just you know again never wanted to do a giant collage like that again but suddenly this advent of Photoshop and the idea of technology allows me really now to sort of take that idea that concept that dream away and bring it in a seamless way that image you shot on film or in that was all shot fell. It was five seven in yes. Just shooting you know was a six by seven format matt and I just literally literally shot you know hundreds of images and then I got giant giant contact sheets made and I hand cut them myself and I actually have the test that I did. I did it with initially with a polaroid to see if it could even work conceptually and then and did that but it was one of those things that's to me what's interesting is how idea sort of evolve and you know even though that was so many years ago when I did that suddenly I got this assignment and I started to look at the highline and realized that it was really my frustration in the fact that I loved it both times a day and couldn't decide which one I like that and so bye bye bye here the force of nature. I just figured well wait a second. Why can't I do both came from okay so you you say okay? I'm doing it. You hang up the phone and you're sitting there back to back and saying okay now. What am I doing so? Would you do well. This first. One highline was less production heavy than many the others only because we were so naive about what we were doing stephen out he scouted it and funny enough one or wouldn't have taken taking these Simon if you knew it was involved avenue sometimes a blessing us but the crazy thing is. I don't know if you remember this antidote but the crazy thing is is one of the guys that own one of the buildings that he wanted to shoot from ended up to be one of his collectors at the time that didn't exist but down the road which is from his rooftop was like Komo becoming a collector took. Let them refuse every so for that one we we have a longstanding relationship relationship with one of the equipment companies up in Mount Vernon who knows stephen loves to shoot from you know a great big left and I called him and I said what do you got. What's GONNA fit and they're like okay but Sam we need it for? You know about twenty four hours. He's like what yeah so. This particular left F chuck. Wasn't you know your favorite truck wasn't my hundred seventy foot condo. That's my preferred choice so we didn't have such a hard time for this year ear. Now you're talking actually really want one of those. Put it like a toilet in one you know Cup Chino machine the thirty six hours this guy so from my perspective. This one wasn't as challenging because I was able to get the permission the streets at that the time the highland was still under construction. It wasn't a big problem getting mask overdue yeah it was it wasn't that big a deal but when we moved onto the flat iron that became a huge a huge production and that happened because some months before we were on assignment men in Times Square photographing the jumbotron there is a jumbotron right the and it was for a particular client and we had one hundred seventy foot condo out there and he's up you know seventy the ash shooting everything's going great and all of a sudden this big black car shows up and it's the executive director actor of the Mayor's film and Broadcasting Office and he says to me what are you doing and it was freezing outside sitting in the car and I said I have my permit. He goes he said if I could pull you out by your hair right now I would. It's a vaulted sidewalk. He's GonNa fall right through and I was like really and he's like yes and I said well. We've been here before. We've done this before. He's like. Let me say okay so he goes around and it looks around any and it ended up that we really hit it off. We got the shot we became friends through the whole thing collector now sort of ah his wife has are flat visas actually and and he he saw that we were really serious about what we're doing and and I was able to work it all out with him so I went back to him and I said look we want to do the flat iron and he said you know we're not doing this without the dot. He's at meet. Let me down downtown. It'll be the and we got to walk through this and we got to walk it off and see if it's really feasible from the the highlight shot which was and assignment from magazine right did they continue in that fashion as assignments and then what's the time frame we're talking about from from highline to Times Square the flat iron and when did you know it was going to be more than just one shot and what happened was they. They came to us New York magazine again came to me jody and and said this is kind of a funny story to our son got accepted to NYU and so we're going for a you know one of those briefings and we were up at top of the Kimmel all center and you know when I get sort of visually enchanted by something it's as if the entire world turns off so I have no focus other than what I'm looking he was the parent Orientation Paranoid Benny is like I'm ready so I'm looking out the window and they separate us one room of the parents guide looking of Washington Square Park and I've never seen this view before and I'm like this is so I've been up there and and he's like why don't you're listening watching listening we walk out of literally this meeting and Uh my phone rings and it's Jodie and she says we want you to do another another one of those data things. How about vertical could you do vertical one and by going boy? Do I have the location and it was. That's how Washington square literally they happened. I walked out of the building. I got a phone call and that's how the second one about and I think then the second one we showed actually at the APEC photography show and and I think we both was never saw reaction to any of my photographs like that picture sort of drove and it was at that moment that had I kind of realized I'd really Kinda stepped into something and and we began to really talk about creating a body of work on New York on with with this concept in this idea. That's going to run the side. I I have to say that there are many many amazing photographs in this world especially these days when when everyone's taking pictures but what's unique about this series of pictures that you have to stop and look at them because it's more than just a pretty picture or an amazing image. It's something that as you're looking at you realize that there's no way you can see this in any other form except in this photograph exactly exactly really new way you know for me. It's what's exciting about it. Is I think one of the things that happened to me personally one of the drivers to create this. This idea was a you know a two thousand year two thousand everybody was talking about the film was going to become the dominant visual idea that we all look at that was going to be the form that still photography was somehow can be go. The Way of the Gutenberg Bible was like it was going to be commoditised auditees photography's Kinda dead and that was the people were actually saying it. That video is it. Everything's video we see video we dream in video. It's all video and I took such offense inst- to that because I felt like wait a second this is we have this digital technology now. It's a whole new way of thinking and I started to start to do to realize that I wanted to sort of create create something photographic that show in a way that this is just the beginning of we're still photography can go that. There's a whole new you know with these new tools we're. We're not limited to a single image anymore single moment. Why does it have to be that way? Photography's always been an evolution and that's kind of the way I've always thought about it and now that that said these photographs each individual photograph contains up to two thousand elements from elements from two thousand photographs. Is that correct well no well. No I will shoot anywhere from twelve hundred to twenty two hundred images okay one day tonight and it's what's important to note as you said it's not a time lapse this you hand cocking a traditional large format Lens and taking twenty two hundred single photographs moments that I see with my I write so I it's all done in the most traditional manners. What's different is I'm capturing? The imaging are very high resolution digital back and then it's what I do what we do on the back can't and the way the combination the way I photograph and the way we put the image together in post allows me to really and you the viewer to experience what what was essentially my memory of that day and he added that the twenty two hundred fifteen hundred fifty select about on average about yeah now you also mentioned that you start off one of the images you have to have one of your base image. Lee destroyed is no people in it has to be empty yeah well we try to do as it's called something. It's called the we call it. Describe it as what I call a naked plate based so what I do is I as as I photograph for every moment you see in my photographs. I have moments where I consciously don't have any people in that area so I'm trying to in my mind. I'm creating a naked plate so people say to me. How do you even pay attention for thirty six hours? Let alone like you can't watch TV. Most people can't watch TV for more than five hours. You know so but I'm hyperfocused in missing. It's because it's literally a real time puzzle. That's going on in my mind as I as I photograph so. I'm I'm. I'm not only seeing what's in front of me. Based as time changes my I moves as time changes but I'm also thinking about. Do I have that naked play. Do I have a piece where people are in that part of the area. Do I have the sky do can I transition. Where are the transition's happening do I have you know when I'm shooting crowd shots? I'm actually waiting people. It's not only just getting the moment I get the moment when the actual crowd breaks and so it's literally like that type of thing. I'm almost like a surgeon. hyper focused on all of the elements that I need because I know in the end if I don't have those elements we can't really execute this trackable. 'cause there's these are amazingly recently complex picture taken a wide field of view while the wide angle of view and as it use your up there for a day literally and you watch or something more Moore had a you keep track of all of these. Did you know that you have like this lower. quadrant clear of people were all in my head I I don't talk to anybody except my assistant and I keep my sister and he marks them. We have a very elaborate where it's a combination of color system and you know a number system awesome that allows me based on time to know exactly where I am at any given moment and the beautiful thing about what I do is I shoot for eighteen hours ours but the entire when I edit it's all based on time right so I kinda know where I am. Depending on where I start my ed you could literally you know with my work. You continue to sit just kind of just cruise through keep the space bar down and just fly through all the images and you'll actually see time change in my foot right so that's what I'm doing but but my is moving as time moves so I the critical element in this whole thing is I have to really decide where day begins tonight ends and that's what I call a time factor in photographs. If you look closely my vector can go on an x access access or even Z axis and so essentially I'm I'm really taking the concept of the Space Time Continuum Einstein described right as a fabric What time is you know an and how this fabric fabric it's warped by gravity? I take the fabric of time that's how I see times agreed as well in a fabric except flatten it onto a two dimensional single piece the film and how these ideas that you're you're discussing and even even the process. At what stage did these ideas come to you. Was this there as a seed from the beginning beginning or these ideas that you developed over these the the the expiration of like the space time continuum actually happened. I had done a few of these and I I was reading the book on Einstein and when the word fabric was brought up in the book I I suddenly had this light went on my head because I see time is a grid like that like a fabric a wrinkled so I was almost in a strange way intuitively just seeing it that way I was seeing the time that way in my photographs and then I as I started to evolve the work and explore this idea of a time factor I started to realize that if I could move the time not only on one access but on two axes and in fact three access points suddenly I could change your perception of of a depth in a photograph and what I describe as a what's most interesting I think the color of light in my photographs when you look at the color in my pictures you know people come into my anthony galleries in my shows and they look at the images and they go wow. What's he doing with the color? I'm not doing anything with the color you're seeing the color of light change over a twelve hour period in a single photograph Graf and so our brains are wired where if you know we're in this room now and we turn on a red light and there's no other light on after about five or ten minutes you know going to look neutral to me. You're not going to look for. We have one white balance yeah right what exactly what it is. We neutralize neutralize everything you can't go neutral when my photographs so in a way color for me in my photographs. The color of light becomes almost like a musical score in film. It adds a I've discovered that there's a real powerful narrative in the ability to change the color of light over time and there's so many questions I wanna jump come back just to mention one thing and you talked about music and you talk about getting the photos I have you. These photos like I view a painting time like a large landscape but even more so some of the old masters where you're taking a quadrant and looking at it and then checking out another aspect and then trying to put together. I look at it differently than I do most photos well well. That's that's quite interesting because thank you I I you know I see that's one of the most exciting aspects of where we can go. Now is photographers is that we you know there's always a great envy painter do right because the painting could interpret could could bring an photography. Was this very accurate representation. What you can't fix reality reality now what I'm able to do and if you look it I'm a student of a painting and an art history and as I started to evolve my work and my one of my first inspirations was John Breughel the elder and he really established for me? If you look at my day-night work you can is he the scale of Braga in my in my photographs. There's an this concept of being able to actually see and feel the stories the one of the paintings that struck me when I was fourteen I went to the Museum of the Metropolitan for the first time and I remember seeing the harvesters for the first time and it just changed my changed my life I never saw landscape like that and I remember walking up to the painting and actually just looking at all the stories that were going on within this paining meaning and it was so nuanced and yet even though I was capturing this entire breadth of the scene I could still feel almost the sweat coming off the brow of these individual guys working in this field. I there was a powerful narrative that was happening within the context of this epic landscape and so that was something inspired me. The another one was the great Hudson River school painter Albert Beer shot and Beer Stott. You know his paintings. If you look closely at Hudson River school goal guys they were recording light moving in seen your if you look closely the sun is not in one position in Phoenix and and is it dimensionality in those paintings and it's because light is moving and so you know what I essentially done is. I'm exploring this idea of you know the way painter's anders work but I'm doing it in a very strict sort of a regimen of based on time and capturing the changing of light and we're working on what I call the time factor but that is enabling me to create a a certain depth in a perception in the still photograph that we never could see something that came to mind when preparing for this show was some years ago Andy Warhol did a movie of the Empire State Building where he said the Campesina Empire and photograph the building for Twenty Twenty four hours right now. It's the most boring movie in existence and most people would say it's a picture of nothing but in fact he was doing exactly what you were doing in in in a certain sense of a static object and it's not that there's nothing happening. Everything is happening light in texture changing cloud approach things changing you just don't see it but in your photographs it's the same concept squeezed into one frame right. I think many people have explored Lord time I mean throughout history and there's only rent dating back to the renaissance. I've discovered painters that were creating panels that they were changing time within the context of an actual painting and so you know this is a fascination I think with artists throughout history and so I'm just a you know evolving it photographic Oh to graphically really but I think that there's people describe my work. It's like looking at a movie and is still photograph. That's kind of a very interesting way to look at it as well but one thing to touch on that you said is that one of the beauty of this work is that many of our collectors will tell us they love walking by the picture every day because they see something different every time they won by and they love living with the work because it's always capturing their imagination and their interest and I think that's you you know really a beautiful thing about the work because the long stared at the more you see I mean it is what I'm doing is is is I just don't know how many people have ever studied a place as long as I do in a single day you know so there's something about Although I'm not like shooting a year on one particular subject I'm doing this intense hence study in one day and you know my cameras in a fixed position and so I basically am at the mercy of whatever nature brings right whether you know I have no idea who's going to show up. I've no idea what the weather's going to be like. I mean we try to do our homework but in the end I like to say I feel. I like to have a certain level of unease when I work it's like doing the show actually comes up a lot on the show and I hope the answer to this is yes just to satisfy my own as a creative. Please tell me you had days when just did not work out. Yeah I have I I will say my percentage managed Pretty Doggone High Pretty Lucky when you there in the spot taking the photo. Are you visualizing but are you thinking the narrative through in in for example the people on the ground. What is this going and then later in post? Do you adjust the individuals on the ground or the animals in the case of major ager photos no I I really really very strict to where things happen based on time. That's really important to me so the because you know when we're composite these images and I worked with a brilliant re Toucher who I've been you know torture basically but the the the the the idea really is is critical that we you know in order to have an effect visually where you look at the work and it seamless like that if you're you know moving and chain you know what I mean putting guys right and left and it never looks right it just doesn't you know you when you're enough space light wise and grounded in reality. It has a certain keep thinking back I guess it's total view and there's a skateboarder. That's done in the left corner jumping. He's gotten caught in the middle of Jab at all. I mean the guy throwing the baby. Baby people always comment on that. I remember when I first saw to take my breath was taken away when I was watching him. Throw the baby. I couldn't believe how high you get up in the but he's trying to get a drink. I'm about forty feet up. I'm I'm literally doing that picture from the top of the the actual tunnel and I'm on a forty five degree. I can't tell you how unbelievably challenging and difficult out photographs to do. That's that's here you. You're on a fixed position. You're on a terra firma. Okay a lot of these pictures was shot up in Cherry pickers in CRICHTON's. You have to maintain a certain amount of stability not that you're dealing with Henry Pin registration here because you do have a certain liberties in post but strap really. It's gotta be registered for so you're up there in a bucket with somebody else for over a day hours okay. How do you maintain that stability because every time you're moving you're repositioning positioning well? That's why he loves that condor so I I always go with these gigantic machines not because I need to go one hundred and seventy feet in the air but because I looked for the balanced the weight of the machine and gives me the stability that I need so I get anything more than ten mile an hour gust. I'm out of business folder made a made a crane. This is the Christmas train but I I I mean the the bigger the bigger the beasts the more I like it outriggers on it which gives it a tremendous. There are times where we can't got that machine in we just can't and like on the inauguration as an example. We'll the inauguration I mean you. You hit on something I I was you know we got Special Permission Commission from the President himself at the time Obama's inauguration twenty thirteen and we we I was able to get a a scissor lift in there. That's the only thing they'd let us because it had to be prickly had to be so they got me this lift and beg the guys that give me the best machine you have the most stable I don't want something ricky and we got they are and sure enough. It was it was as good a fifty foot scissor lift as you get but scissor lifts are very unstable. So what happens is every time you shift your weight literally. If I I go from my left leg to my right leg my horizon line would shit sure so my sister and I had the actually tape ourselves into position and every exposure I I made I was literally the exact same spot every time because that was the only way I could guarantee that my horizon line was would you pitch tape. Footprints down stood on yeah and my might even the way to my arm the way I was over the camera the position physically my physical position was exactly in the same every exposure and take you a day our physical tossed. They realized how physical I mean I've been in a recently just did this geographic project on bird migration day tonight and thirty six hours in a bird blind where you can't even turn on white light white light they go you sneeze. They yeah I mean it's that kind of thing. Can we make it up in a bucket for three hours. Yes that guy all those hotdogs. He has a routine. I've got all right okay. Moving right along can jump back over here to that the flat iron imaging and GonNa Start with some production talk here so so I mean to Venice to the flat iron twenty all really months of preparation honestly and the flat iron is is one of my favorites because I did work with the gentleman from the mayor's office very closely on this and as I mentioned Israeli he said you know look the only way I'm going to ever prove this is if we meet with. Dot Okay now Stephen and I have been working together for many years in the world of advertising and I've done a lot of production reduction with him before so I I knew what the deal was. I you know I knew the drill and I've never really you can just submit a permit to the DOT. I've never had to go down to meet them before for so I went down it was an in the mid summer and I met with both the gentlemen from the Mayor's office and from the DOT and and we walked through it all and I explained everything I also have permission from two other sources one was the pork chop which is the bit land right in front world blue umbrella czar and then another set of permissions from the flat iron building itself and it was a little bit different than I might have to get today but anyway that being said I said I got permission and they said to me. Here's a day you can shoot at nine eleven and I thought this is going to be nobody on the street. Because it was the tenth anniversary I agree and I thought everybody is going to be downtown but I was too petrified. Honestly say you could give me another date because I knew I was drove me said Stephen. They're gonNA and let us do it on nine. Eleven I go oh my God. You're kidding me that that means. We're going to get the memorial light Serbia device on Fifth Avenue. I said I'm going to but then I knew instantly. I said I'm going to do Fifth Avenue at night right and and Broadway and that and that's how it happened yeah little does the permission and we had everything in place and I had my parking monitor throughout the night before and putting up signs and we were all prepared we can it was gorgeous day bigs accrue on a child like this it small we can't so what's interesting is we we always have a PA with us on the ground and we always have one assistant up in the air with Steven and myself or another production person on the ground when he travels to India for example. I I usually don't go on those Africa. I had production people there. I was there ahead of time with him scouting a bit but so it varies anywhere from four to five is the Max tax because it's just too long day and we can't shift people out in the middle because we really need the continuity so on this we had one of our assistant up with Stephen Stephen and on this particular one the at the driver of the trust said funny story I I. I have to go up there with him. That's the way we keep one guy on the ground watching lift and I've got to go up with him and I was like look you guys you know as for one hundred years. I don't think it's a good idea. You'RE NOT GONNA be able to come down and he just wasn't getting it right driving. We didn't really understand what you'RE GONNA. Cut Down and I and I'm like getting I mean is a perfect yeah yeah and we have a police system so for drafts sandwiches whatever he basically the bucket the bucket goes up and I have pulling the bucket it up and the guy goes. I am coming down out of like. I don't know he said to me. Look at me. What happens is you can't fit in the body going anywhere where where we got all this great stuff? I'm all set. I'm waiting the sunset now. I'm literally just waiting for the memorial lights to come on and he looks at me and he goes okay guys. I gotta go to the bathroom so we're GONNA just go down for a few minutes. Okay and I go no no no no no. No No. You don't understand that he goes. What do you mean I gotta go to the bathroom? I said no no no. I said you see see that. We have to get this picture of the lights said after I get the lights on free to go down which is about five hours I can offer you a bottle of the jury saw at that moment. Almost Brady grabbed the keys and say we're not moving. I know where we're going to partner. WHO's sitting down on the ground looks at me and he goes? You're kidding right. No I told you you just weren't listening no incomes down once he goes up. He's up so after did this shoot every other that we've ever done with them. They're like no problem. Stephen you go wha- control from the ground coffee in the car. They're just communication where I'm walking all the time Y- but it was really funny but on this one also there's just to a lot of nuances because first of all the pork chop itself the umbrellas are down at night and the everyone was super super nice and super helpful on this but I ended up getting out there I think it was three in the morning and I had to run out and literally put up each one of those umbrellas myself which is okay you know we had we had that little thing and then we also had that particular day Stephen was up and all of a sudden there was a bomb scare bomb scare in Madison Park so what happened was fifty feet in the air and all of a sudden. It's like Godzillas entering Madison Park. It's like people are fleeing lean and there and you hear this announcement. Please evacuate the park. Please evacuate the parking all of a sudden like this guy like the hurt locker Mr Hurt Locker uh-huh and I'm on bomb suit because I'm wondering twenty-five he'll get down twenty five feet away from me and my sister and I watching this and the and they're no one you one thing amazing thing about being a cherry picker over New York City. Nobody looks up especially with today's technology with everyone's iphone and everything and how many with drones thrones and stuff it probably be very different but nobody looks up then you just don't so I was invisible even to the police in a way so that clearing they're clearing the streets and I'm looking at my assistant ago and I get this Mr Hurt Locker and he's bringing a suitcase. You know he's going into park and he takes his suitcase back in and he's just outside my frame aim otherwise it would have been in but I'm just thinking oh my gosh. I think we're in the blast zone here. This is not even here drives go down. It's extremely like what you're saying. This was part of the agreement so follow up they sell they they cleared it was nine eleven. It was even more so more was pretty crazy. Worrisome worrisome to everybody and I kept thinking God. Please don't look up because I figured as soon as they see him down. They didn't look up. They cleared out the park. They went through all the machinations and then they went went about their business and headed downtown and you know we were sitting. There was also just happened. That Italy had just opened so there was a line line around the corner for July. There were tremendous amount of people on the streets. You know it just ended up to be a magical magical day. The weather was fantastic and it really the rest of it. I have to say when off without a hitch. We were so fortunate and each one of them. There are always some thing happening opening last minute changes you know it is production heavy. Each one of these does take months. I I can't tell you we grammercy park was one of the ones we did it. After that and I had to go through a tremendous amount of permission gaining through the Gramercy Park Association which we became friendly with and each one of them brings its own nuances in its own problem solving. I think the beauty of it all is that because he's up there for so long people who work with US really respected. I was GonNa say what's the one thing that links. Everybody's eventual okay. Their approval is respect for the work expecting a print at the end or or sometimes we do do that with grammercy park we did do that. We made a contribution to the association so that they could auction. It often raise money for the fund which worked out really well. You know it each one as I say it's nuances but I think in the end they really respect the idea that he gets up there for twenty four hours. We are very very very conscious of not stepping on anybody's toes and being very thoughtful about where we are in mindful of of the people professionally yes years of years of incredible advertising work work has taught us that well and I think that that's been the beauty of it you know and it was a real image to the city. When we first started the project in the mayor's office really took get on and understood what we were doing and we you know had the great fortune of getting permission to be up in Central Park at on the fountain that one also had its own nuances and problems and permission granting and that's a whole nother genre and then we did Brooklyn Bridge Park took me two years to clear that we went? I can't even tell you how many times we went down. We sent a scout down. We did it every which way from Sunday and we ended up having a complete fluke and and how we got the permission for it and once we did it and the guy who originally didn't want to give permission because he thought we would be too intrusive within the park. Stephen had to have the lift underneath the bridge fifty feet in the air for eighteen hours and you know average and the the sound it was people always ask me what was the most challenging. My brain was just like having shockwave I couldn't I couldn't even if you'd asked me my name when I got down and it was like a repeal every time the being in the O train for almost every two to three minutes and I had like headsets on those things and Unsound Reduces earplugs nothing mattered. It was just deafening. It's insulting. It does exhibit to be also have a base camp camp within the park while the year you know everything that we need around us. Lifts was in the park. We we offered to go into the trash area. We offered to go on the street street and but the primary he really needed to be was was still on the part was I wanted to make a picture. You know Saturday in the park kind of feeling you know this kind of you know something that you know hearkens back to get some of the impressionists you know the celebrate Tori view the work is really for me has always been the New York especially and we're sort of emerged from was just loved New York you now and I just WanNa make photographs that make people feel the Kinda love I feel wedding. I think about the city to grow as New York too well that I was going to realize that was really interesting. I mean it started with I did. One of California like a really was assist image to coney island. I want to Santa Monica appear and after that image we then Chicago there was an opportunity to go to Chicago and I love the cubs and and so I ended up. I'm a baseball fan so I did this and then of course I if you look at my work you'll see the evolution of less nine years. If you think about where I came from from a starting really art as a documentary photographer did Ellis Island Bethlehem steel in some of these places and then I went started working into China my work has always has been captivated by history and and memory in a way and time and so I've been now melding all of those things and and now the newest data nights are really really sort of I think fueled with social conscious issues that I'm very very driven by weather it's rising and the birds and all of the original title ideas from you or or some of them suggested and I think that you know are the assignments footing the bill because this is expensive. It's a really been a self driven project. Has It really has been you know the interesting part of it is that when we went one of our galleries Peter Fetterman gallery when he started working with us doing New York he said to Steve and he goes you you had to go global with this and I remember sitting there with him. He said I really feel like you need to go to London into Paris. Jerusalem and we remember we walked out of the gallery and I looked at Stephen. I said Oh my God and he said to me you know I think he's right. I think data droop we gotta go global. We had an opportunity I wanted to Israel and I'd never been to Israel and so I decided to do this picture of the of the Western Wall and it was just remarkable kind of inexperienced for me my first time and I'll tell you share a little story was really amazing. My my Dad Davos great before before you get there. Though I mean what happened was Steve and said I WANNA shoot the Western Wall. We do a tremendous amount of research in the studio before we send the scout out because it's too broad and hit his vision is very particular about what he needs for the frame so we start researching it and one of our assistant says my God the Beer Co.. Hueneme and and he looked at the pictures I saw pictures of that I have to shoot that 'cause ocean of people. There is a sea of humanity. I said that's the photograph I need to make now. I need to get on the highest and closest physical structure to the Western Wall so I have this great scout a religious man who let let me just interject it to say that it takes a while well for us to find the right Scout. This is important right okay. Everybody's Scouts Okay Scout. We found this guy who was fantastic and work in the field before and it took him three months of literally sending US photographs knocking on every door in the call I knew roughly what building I wanted because I do a lot of using google earth and so I I knew roughly where I needed to be based on altitude and physical structures structures and then he had to get access into those areas and that's what took so much time and we we we got we got the permission we gotta cleared. We literally literally had to get all our gear in by about one o'clock in the morning. We moved in at about three o'clock in the morning. My cameras already set position on this rooftop. Couldn't I believe the view I had it was kind of all I could do imagine like going up every morning and having coffee and looking at this view from this vantage point in my photograph you see all of religion in the Western world. Yes we're cuts how that was the word I was looking for the cartel and we had a private rooftop that and the gentleman who owned the apartment wasn't using the apartment he was actually he rented it out every so often so it was emptied which was great because we got to be. We we were able to get down into the apartment. You know keep some of our year taste secured production elements but the security was insane insane and we need to get there early in the morning we had a police escort is is is extreme as anything during nine eleven or anything like that so it was really tight. We got they're setting up the camera. Everything set at about three thirty morning. My my my scout we've come friendly with and he looks at me. He Goes Wilkes he goes are you Jewish and I go yeah I am he goes. Do you have any idea what this day is about and and I go no and when I was a kid my dad used to say to me you know Steven. You're what's considered a high priest. I go does that mean. I still gotta go to Hebrew School. He goes yes that you do so I used to have this thing that he says were you know cocaine coins so I'm like wow okay so fast forward word. I'm having this conversation said Yeah. I'm Jewish. She says you know what this is about. I'd just today that guess especially everybody comes to pray at the at the the wall he goes no no. This is the day that all the Cohen come to bless everyone and a my mouth is a gape and he goes. Are you choline. I go yeah. He says you realize you're here today. With all your brother into bless everybody that's physically in this place into that was really intense and it was horrible weather leading up to that day we we were so lucky so lucky. Have you had to call off some shoots because the weather we've never done. I know we've been really fortunate. I mean shoots haven't worked there earlier era I did I did a picture of the Grand Canyon the first one I did I shot from it was on actually the Indian land. It's a very famous Japanese architect you who created this it looks like gigantic magnet. That's clear it's a walkway that literally floats over the Canyon and I thought Oh wouldn't that be cool. That'll be my human narrative narrative people walking on this abstract you know this this clear sort of a horseshoe in the middle of the Grand Canyon and I did this photograph I spent and literally twenty six hours photographing from this place and when I looked at the image I roughed it in. I realized that the actual architecture overpowered the Grand Canyon and so I realized that's not the photograph I wanNa make it's it's I wanted to i. I don't WanNa over into the grand. Canyon is the thing that I'm trying to capture and I wanted to somehow somehow contextualized humanity in a way with it that that was much more harmonious than allowing like this every shot start at dawn. Oh Yeh Ah we don't and there's sometimes that I actually get to a location in daylight where I have to set up daylight because it's too difficult to actually access at night so you know example when I was in the Falkland Islands I started. I must do reverse. I shoot loathing yeah. The AH sorry Yes yes thank you I usually I'm used to on facebook and instagram at Hashtag. Both they hate me. Oh I yeah exactly that's my Venus depending on your persuasion and I so I had this experience where we physicality just getting to location Shen was so difficult we had to actually get out there in the early afternoon and then work a sort of a reverse schedule. It really doesn't matter now at the end of the day Eh when you really start twenty beginning exactly yeah you're waiting for moon rise and I mean that really really matter yeah. That's that's why when people here you know why why you shouldn't thirty six hours. Usually it's because of moonlight. I'm trying to get you know when you start when I started moving the work into into from the National Park series that I did. I started to realize that you know how do you capture night. The only way there is no light in a national park right other than moonlight right so you know sometimes you can be shooting and you get your normal twelve hours or whatever it is sixteen hours but you know what the time the moon to get up high enough for to light in L. Capitan which is what was happening in in that first picture I did of Yosemite National Park. You know I spent you know God knows how many hours waiting waiting for that event to happen with the angle of light would hit it just the right way so as the work has evolved so had the challenges in a way you know. How many do you do a year or how often into it really depends? You know I think when we first started we were doing you know two or three balancing it between a lot of our commercial editorial commitments and we were moving along and then Stephen signed a a contract with Taj and we we had thirty five at the time and we needed to add a substantial amount to finish off the project for the book and for two years really I would say we were I've done more in the last two years then that's Hercules and a and must because of the fact that this is so labor and time intensive are there times when you're sitting up there net buckets himself. You know what I think I think he played. I think I've done it on the back. It's it's the the added is torture but you know I was very very you want heart was warmed reading a great book on Davinci and and he describes procrastination as the beautiful thing that it actually not procrastinating. It's just that you're you know for creatives just to have to you're working through. It and I keep explaining that to my wife. You know she keeps a I want you editing editing editing. She's always screaming at me. I'm never editing fast enough or you know and I'm like no I am editing. It's actually in my head and I'm thinking about it and the relationship of it and and where I'm going to go with it and you know I'm telling stories and I'm also reliving my memory so you know ah that's what photographs do I mean they think they they bring our keep our memories alive in a way and so when you experience the things that I experience yes when I when I spend twenty four hours looking at a scene just studying place it informs you in a way that's very different than almost anything I've ever experienced and I think one of the great joys for me personally has been when people stand in front of my prince and they experience it the way I did and you know we've found it fascinating the way people actually spend time looking at my pictures. They don't just glance at my work. I there's a way in a way that there's something about the time that I put in that comes out well. It's a perfect example of that. All of this is that we had the great fortune to be commissioned by the United States Embassy in Canada and the National Gallery in Canada to create data night of the Canada one fifty which was last summer and it was on July fifth. I WANNA say or July second. I can't remember the exact date and and we knew we had a shoot that day and we had months almost a year of preparation getting into this and the last month or two before we found that the royals were coming which changed we are we we could shoot from because they have to have so much security et Cetera et Cetera and we were scouting with the team from the National Gallery who are helping us and we had a fabulous team there anyway we settle on this location and we get to Ottawa and it is pouring and I mean pouring and Canada one fifty is going on whether it's pouring or not what and the picture reflects the morning of rain and umbrellas and incredible ponchos and and we're sitting out there and they had built a structure for him to shoot on the roof and luckily there was an empty office building below because he couldn't have shot from the roof no matter what because there was so much rain and he shot through the entire day into into the night the the photograph the fireworks weren't off until I think ten thirty that night or eleven and we shoot it and it ended up. We knew we had the picture because we had this incredible break of light during the middle of the day. It looked like a Hudson River school painting the sunset. It was just spectacular. The the the incredible thing was that after we made the picture and we presented it to the museum and to the people of Canada the next day we were at the National Gallery and and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie showed up just completely coincidental and we were very we got to know the ambassadors of of from the US of Canada Bruce and Vicki Heyman and Vicki's there and she says to Stephen On my God. You've got to come here and she says I want to introduce you to prime minister shootout. I'm getting a tour literally at one of the curators just giving giving me a torch goes Stephen someone like to meet you and it's literally Justin Trudeau and his wife and he came over to me. He looked at me and he said I can't tell you how unbelievable that photograph is and he said to me the most touching thing was he said every single memory of that day is in my memory of that day is in your photograph. That's what you were just saying that people and I sit on my God. That's the ultimate compliment interesting when it is an event in a one day thing other people are sharing. That's been matic back when he can capture who hasn't been seen or are there still some that there are still a few that have not been incredible foresight potentially Ashley or good fortune to be allowed do one of Red Square and that one is still being worked on that was an incredible. I don't know if I could do now but commission to get permission now. Okay we're GONNA take a short break and we come back. We're GONNA be talking about the seren getty stay tuned. We hope you're enjoying this edition of the B. N. H. Photography podcast send us a tweet at photo video Pash Tag h photo podcast for Sarah Getty. I started working with a team of Tanzania. My God like in September and we didn't shoot the picture until March. It took that long everything moves at a snail's pace there the amount of production needed to get in there and to figure out how to get everything in there and what we needed and the permissions. It's it's very very very very time consuming and what happened was we were going together prior to the shoot due to Africa into Jen's Aena we went together and we were supposed supposed to meet the production team the day we got there and hand off some of the equipment and the hard drives just to be prepared at the last minute. They called me like a sorry. We're not gonNA shop today what I could not believe it. He's like yeah now. We can't make it what will catch at the end so the whole time we were there together. I had my heart in my mouth worrying and we we we had a sense of where he wanted to go and we were pre scouting before he even met the team because the scouting photographs that they were sending us just weren't really what he wanted and the last ask day that we were together. There are since travelling in to meet him. I was coming back to the states and we get to this literally airstrip that is just a dirt road food and our plane lands and they're supposed to be waiting for him. They are and there's nobody there and I'm like Oh my God. This is a production like clockwork. I'm I'm like Oh my God. I can't even get to them because the cell phones just are so dismal and he's like don't worry we'll show up like I don't know it's like they'll show up so I ended leaving him alone. On this airstrip literally I think there was a hut with my eight cases of equipment out no assistance nobody and sure enough they do end up showing a up and then what happens after that is just a real miracle he had been to the getting National Park. You can't go off road there and he said to our team over there who had a lot of experience which is why we hired them and it wasn't cheap. It's expensive to work over there. Everything is black market and there's there's just one of everything and he said to them after scouting what like three or four days will there was basically I I discovered the location the through happenstance it's like I was it was one late afternoon and I noticed this watering hole but I wasn't really drawn into it to be honest because it it was just from the angle where you're actually in the park and you're driving you. Don't see it in its entirety. You only see a fraction of it but what I noticed was the zebras at at sunset were coming out and they looked like they'd been dipped in black chocolate so they were goyal glazed and they were just beautiful. I've never seen anything quite right like it and in fact it was almost it was the viscosity almost to the water was like almost like mercury you know it had this kind of sheen to it and I just started photographing them and and I was like where are they coming from. What's going on like where where are they getting the sheen from because all I could think about was seeing them? Go in and then come out and so I trust them. I followed him back back into the actual watering hole that they were coming out of and when I saw the watering hole I was like wait. A second I saw the relationship of where I was versus where the whole was and I and then I saw the back end of it and I realized if I could get to the opposite side from inside the park and shoot across that I'd had this amazing view you sunset and everything and so we got permission to drive off road into the park which is unheard unheard of and I had a scaffolding eh built onto the actual truck so's like using speedrail so elevated me almost about fifteen feet in the air and then on top of that I had a crocodile blind that was attached just to it so I was essentially invisible to the animals when we started shoot but we pulled up I was scouting at this moment only stood on the top of my truck and when I looked at the view you knew immediately. This is the shot this is definitely the shot so then we had to get back and we spent almost four or five days negotiating with the head of the National Park waiting for permission for permission. Don't allow for twenty four hours no on hard up the apples. How do you protect yourself not that it's it's really about the poaching they yeah? They don't want anybody driving in the park after sunset so it's a very very strict and I needed to actually be set up. You know like I needed my truck in the situation all dialed in like at one o'clock in the morning so I could shoot stars so I could and they they agreed to it. We got we were able to do it at we. They said you will only allow you to do this. You have to camp out doc in our tents so they allowed to use the actual national. You know the the Rangers tense so we literally spent the night in the middle of the seren our we had a security purity guard with a rifle and we also had a Masai with spear yeah well. Let's just keep you bases covered there. If I had known what I I know now I don't know if I would have been. I don't think I would have slept at all. Frankly am God knows if I probably would have ever stepped down from my my rig because we when we pulled up that night to set up the camera the as the lights came across this watering hole there were all these is lighting being up. We made you think of crocodiles but they weren't crocodiles. They were hippopotamuses so there's a whole family of hippos there so after the fact I realize I wanNA hippo if you get between it and the war and its water it will likely go after you and there's a ninety five percent chance you're going to die if a hippo goes after you which I didn't know they had that high kill rate you can't reason with no no so and and by the way you know they people think these lumbering animals it's much it's closer to the dancing hippos that used to see in the cartoons. That's how fast they can move but we're talking about a photograph and and if you listen to the show if you just go online you could find minded very very easily but it's essentially a small watering hole. It's what may be fifty sixty feet across yeah. Maybe and it's in the photograph if you have over the course of twenty four hours pretty much every animal species that came belong to drink yeah was extraordinarily. I mean one of these huddled. It was essentially Noah's always arc. I kept waiting for him to talk about. What happened was I set up the camera we were there? We started taking photographs twenty six hours hours. I think I took two hours to stop the launch. That was it otherwise I was photographing. The entire time and what I witnessed was it was truly really biblical in a way to describe it and it was kind of a life changing experience because I'm I'm a dog lover. I love animals in general but I've never never witnessed anything quite like this so these are all these species are sharing this watering hole and I'm watching this over twenty six hour period and you don't even hear them grunt that each other there is absolutely absolutely no. It's like this idea that they're competitive in any way does not exist when it comes to the going into the water and sharing the water. It's it's an equilizing. The animal seem to truly understand that water is something everybody gets to share and the problems you have with each other. You could pick that up after you leave the watering hole but when it comes to the warring hall everybody's on the same plane it was astounding to watch and it it made me begin to understand that animal communication is something we don't really truly understand and I started to really think about how my work might be able to evolve into capturing more of that idea of animal communication and that's really how you know the Byrd series got it was based on Seren Getty and then I did a photograph up in a place called Robeson bite where I captured you know Orca whales and the way they interact intersect with humanity in this magnificent place called the bite when you're up there are you. We'll have two questions questions about their. How often are you pushing the shutter and also what do you have a lot of great ideas? When you're up there about everything else that's going on or is it? Are you so focused John what's going on no I'm. I'm just you know I really try to live in the moment you know so you know you you think about as a photographer I started as a street photographer and I would just I can kind of smell a picture before it happens and I think what I do is although I'm in a very sort of controlled set space and my frame is very defined already I am you know just reacting to what my eyes see so. I'm literally just seeing things in reacting I'm I like to describe it as a street photographer from you know fifty feet and yeah that's what I do not to say. I don't have an idea of a picture but I don't let my my provision ation of something define in what is that. I'm going to capture. I'm open. I've learned over the years that you know I I want to be able to have this frame but then I get lost within the frame I WANNA get lost a little bit because that that is what kind of drives my uneasiness a little bit and so it makes me pay even more attention and I tend to be very afraid of of missing something like with the Cervetti shot with Betty was mentioning was we we sh we should such large files that every three hours or so I have to clear computer off just to capture and you know to keep working a fluidly and so sometimes that involves like literally disconnecting and so it's a couple of minutes minutes before I live again and so there's always this moment of where I'm completely terrified that within those few minutes some shots shots going to happen you know like the the the you know the lines going strike the something's going to happen especially when you shooting wildlife and so my my sister Manhattan and my assistant looked at me and he says that the format it's your life you can start shooting against Stephen. I'm like thank God I looked around so I'm in a you know a a crocodile blind right and that's like you know this. Basically it's like a Beige tent with twenty by thirty six window in it and I peer so I I don't really peripheral vision. I have to in order to see what's coming on. My edges actually have to lean my head out the window to look and so I leaned my head out and literally. If you look at the photograph you'll see a family of elephants marching across that is the moment I see them that the and it's like I'm going. Oh my God you know literally I was shooting so fast my sister's cocking shutter for me. I was just go if you could motor drive a four five. I was motor driving. It was just so incredible but to me the most spectacular the moment was this when they just came across center section and the baby. The gesture of that baby was just it was out of the jungle book. It was magical you now and so my point being is you just never know when that stuff's going to happen and I just felt like so blessed. I'm so thankful that my sister Chris got it finished on 'cause thirty seconds later. I don't get that picture not to get to the topic but what camera using camera lens system so I worked with a Lenhof Yeah format format camera and it's a digital back on it digital back phase digital back yeah okay yeah right phase hundred megapixel yeah so and so time we'll go by where you won't be shooting. I mean it really. It sounds like while you're up there. You're like every other photographer. You're waiting for that moment. There's not like a a set number of minute now. There's nothing I I like I said my eye moves with time and certainly I'm creating naked plates based on time and if this transition coloring clouds difference I'm I'm getting coverage based based on my time transition so that's always happening and that's always in the back of my mind but I live in the moment. I'm like I said I'm a street you so I'm reacting to what I see with my and that's really what it's about it. That's what people you know. When you look at the work its way more? This is not a time lapse where some you know mechanical mechanisms shooting pictures every fifteen to thirty seconds or every minute this is me seeing very specific moments throughout the day in the night and that's why it is really a an accurate representation. It's my memory what I saw that day that that comes through the photo though even it's hard to put your finger looking at the photo but this idea does come through. I think you know yeah well. I I think you know if you look closely enough and you see see the moments you know there. There are a lot of really cool moments and that's what's fun about the work. Is You know I I the joy to me is in the details and the joy for me. He is is bringing you into the picture a lot of art you kind of you need to stand back at four feet. Take it in my art doesn't work that way. You can stand back at four feet and take it in but then I want you to come closer. I want you to come in. I want you to come inside. Take a look. You know there's something for you to discover like Betty said I mean that's that's the the great pleasures when people people who live with the work you know say to you know Stephen God every day I wake up. I see something new. That's what I love about art. I like art that you know you can rediscover every time you look at the s this and and we've touched on a bit. Some of the work is comes from assignments others. It's you guys decide you WANNA shoot it and you figure it out. I mentioned a grant yes and so there's there's a whole lot of players involved in funding this I disagree and also also through the gallery. Yeah the galleries that really to be honest. My my gallery sales is what really is how we we we feed it all back into the project. So it's the print sales at really are able to I've been very fortunate in that. The work has a really great collector base that it is always excited about the new works that I'm doing and they that enables me to go out and create more art. That's really the way it works going back to. The grants. Stephen was talking about earlier. You know the initial I'll grant and what I estimated for was for five domestic bird migration shot we ended up. He ended up basically going around the world to do so the the grand budget that was initially forthcoming did not even come close to covering what we needed to go for coffee and snacks. Basically the great thing is one of the exciting things for me as tog refer you know you think of the geographic is really this bastion of photojournalism and I think when you know I remember early on I showed my work to Sarah Lean and she was very captivated with with what I was doing in the fact that geographic sort of recognized this and they were willing to embrace it as a really for me was really the ultimate compliment yeah they've been incredible partners because they see that photography's evolving and they recognize that and they and they see the power of storytelling that this this concept brings to to the medium and you know the issues now that I'm beginning to explore whether it's with the bird migration series you know the idea that you know birds are we can learn earn so much from birds and you know the old canary in the coal mine idea seeing these species studying. Where did you know it's almost like a scientist you know and I spent a day like that? I see the mating rituals I see all the nuances that where they teach their young how to fly everything is in my pictures you know so it becomes a real wait for you. You know your average viewer or young kid never thought twice about birds to suddenly have an experience with a species in a way that's really enlightening and maybe they they get excited about about burning and realize you know the birds can teach us things they can tell us what's coming before. It actually happens when were these. The bird photo shot in the last year that was and how many locations over the course of a year for the there were initially a total of five okay and then we ended up with four because we ended up having to go so far away and why was the door so much expense so we'll steven conducted this started scouting we started scouting scouting we started to scout initially we're going to do five locations and the five was we're going to go to less Venus the Falkland Islands and shoot the Black Brown Albatross and then from there we're going to Nebraska and on the Platte river shooting the sandhill crane migration and and then and after that we were going to go to the Yucatan flamingos and we we were doing Panama we ended up I did a lot of research and we thought okay you Catan is going to be great real largos this incredible nesting area with the flamingos comes to sanctuary and so we had it all lined up spent spent about seven months. I had a scout their producer the whole thing we worked out every with the national park and then two weeks literally before I supposed to get on the plane and go and begin start shooting. I get an update. 'EM I produce a calls me Steven. You're not gonNA believe this but I just got off. The phone with the scientists and the birds are not here and I go. What do you me not? He goes well. They're not nesting where they normally nest and so that that doesn't work for me. I I got to know that the birds we're going to be there and so I called my editor editor Kathy Miranda the geographic was just fantastic on this project and we started brainstorming and realized that okay. Let's just you know if they're not there. They're not there. Let's figure out where we can catch them and so we we we started looking at a Africa in areas specifically Lake Victoria and they have a huge population there but the thing is they don't nest there so again that created a new challenge for me. Could I actually be lucky enough to capture them as time changes in entire day without them you know having this giant you know move because when they have their babies with them they tend to stay there right. So we went for Bulgaria. I had a found a great great local scout and basically I heard the numbers for great. We got there and something happened. Climate change effected this picture too so we get there and the the first night is a massive thunderstorm and I find out that over the last five weeks this is the debt of dry season they've been having massive rains and we get out in the morning to scout for the first time and I see all the hills at this almost see green color like spring and I noticed this almost a fresh water river in the foreground around the lake. That's just coming off the side of where I was standing and I started having this conversation and I see the birds coming into it and their bathing themselves so it turns turns out lesser flamingos the they love feeding this alkaline rich nutrient rich water but in terms of bathing they love fresh water and and so I looked at the situation and they were saying to me this has been going on every single night Steve we get a thunderstorm around nine thirty at night with lightning and everything I go okay so if that follows then this freshwater streams should be here over the next two three days and so we decided to do was I built a thirty foot blind and this is crazy but we actually had brought in from Dubai if you can believe that because they don't have they didn't have to have that in in this area of of Africa so and we literally literally had it wrapped with fabric and I climbed into it and I built it right on the edge of the fresh water hoping that the birds would ignore me and and want the fresh water enough to continue debate there and I guess right they did you've been charmed gins got uh and the the birds never showed to Mexico. was there or what happened. We never got confirmation but the essentially there was you know there has to be a certain temperature of the water. The water has to be a certain height in terms of them to nest so if there's too much water they can't like create their nests. It's almost like the nets get drowned so it affects the young so I think that's what it probably was. It led to was something to do with either temperature or water or sea level over the course of this sir series kind of major technical advances or changes that have improved the photography or go ahead. How long is the first shot on the highland was taken? How long ago that was with? I think it was what thirty seven megapixel forty yeah forty forty megapixel back so now I'm using one hundred megapixel back so to answer your question. It's measuring time in years but why picks county yeah. I love it well. The thing is what I feel like a writer suddenly had the source handed to them and I learned all these new words it is technology and in particular you know the size of the file size is you know I started. Maybe it was shooting two and a quarter film now I'm shooting almost eleven by fourteen film and that is an powerful way to be able suddenly what was insignificant in my early work is now significant so as a storyteller. I love the fact that I have that much more information to work with and I think one of the things I'm most interested in is when you see my Princeton Person I'm I'm trying to create a visceral experience view. I want you to look at my work as a window like you're standing there. It's as if I'm trying to change I'm really really interested interested in the way the ICEES and so part of the way I photograph now is to try to almost replicate the way the human icees when you see big big print like that so it it from from a perception standpoint your peripheral vision the way you're I moved through a lot of my work feels like you're there in a sense right and that's what what I'm really interested in so the for me. It's very exciting the larger the more and more mega pixels I have the closer I get to realizing what I consider as are the human experience of seeing so that aside what about the post production part of retail problems aside the Baxter doing great the problem is is the the optics and the file size and the other thing is is the the time it takes to to layer. This type of a huge data added together so we're we have my funny line with my retouched your way. It's always whenever I make a change. I call her up and I go time to go out for coffee. That's the Q uh-huh Twenty minutes on the fastest computer files. You know any minutes is in the studio with you when you're working or are you guessing separately we work. We work remotely yes so but we have this wonderful program that I'm able to work simultaneously with our anywhere in the world. She used to come up to the studio a lot and and and work with us and work with Stephen now we work. It says if I'm sitting next I can she can share my screen share her square. It's called join me yeah. Join me joining a year and can we talk postproduction now. Can you just Kinda. Maybe walk us through. If that's possible from the images are shot. They're collected elected and go well the post work it starts with me editing that can take almost a month to be honest smell. It starts with that. I mean I get back to the studio and this and the assistants have to download everything and that's that's obvious but still it's time consuming is there's a huge amount of data organization of the data's huge and then we have to we add it now in in capture one and I basically because my workflows such that I like to actually you know parallel as much in my experience when I'm actually shooting where we changing and adding different software and so on and so forth the other thing I do is I actually create a time lapse study guide and so my time lapse what that does for me is is not used for any imaging what it's used as strictly for me to study time. It's a referendum I see how the light moved. I see how things changed a while. You're working. You have a separate cam doing gem labs. Oh that's fast yeah get and so that enables me to really see how light is moving through the scene and and that becomes a great tool for me in terms of visual reference of how I'm going to decide where day begins night ends and how how time is going to move to my photograph graph so and then we'll we'll. We'll spend the thing people have to understand that you know when you see my work is all this micro detail. Well I capture you're very specific moments but because my scenes are so broad in terms of the information in each photograph that there may be five or ten or fifteen other great moments elements that happened that I wasn't even aware of so I get to Sorta have to rediscover my work when I add it so it's not just the the mark phrase visualize each frame Um yeah and so you're doing that at one hundred percent and just imagine the time to render and all that stuff you can realize why it takes a month to at it and then I they all the moments are based on time and they get you know mark them they get circled and then I sit down with my retouched and we I create the master plates. I choose the frames that I feel the best sky's the transition based on time and then we build the master play together and once that plate is built then it comes down to okay my best and most favorite moments based on time get seamlessly blended into the image and that's how it works the post side can anywhere from three to four months. I have a team of of assistance current assistance in old assistance and I still work with so I have almost ten pair of eyes go through the file through its complete just just stations yeah twenty eight to thirty iterations easily easily before we even print and then we make these absent France and then we rip them apart you you know what I mean like. It's so so it's constantly being then finalized printed this duty will he'll sign off on the final file. We'll give it to our master hell printed and then we go through another that can take two two weeks two to three weeks to three weeks. Just because color is so critical in my work so fear five if your point five yellow or red in my images it changes the whole narrative so color is really really important creating a harmony between day and night and that's what people don't really realize how challenging that is and you know. I'm really bringing together. These two very discordant worlds in a way where where they visually you just are drawn to the image right as mail together without being jar. Yes that's exactly. That's the hardest thing absolutely Louis. That's the hardest thing you simplify this process a little bit in some of your city shots because like Times Square you use the side of the streets that are in shadow as your night. That's right AH images that actually checkerboarded time so in that's the those are the only two I've done it within its because in New York you know when you think of Times Square it's it's a canyon night is in the shadow of that picture and days in the sunlight so checkerboarded so there's no there's no like normal arc to it and that's because you no times square sunlight comes in spots and when I yeah it made sense and I thought wow that could be really cool. I'll check aboard time and save two months. The people don't know about that picture was that picture was shot in like in the middle of August or July I think and I'm on literally I was shooting from on top of one one of those great signs in in time. I was like you know Kinda harnessed in on one of those signs and there was a bomb scare another now. Everybody looks that picture to go. How the hell does he create a naked played in that picture? Well guess what at about five thirty at night the police come out and grab. If you look at Times Square they had these railings that are always on the side and it's for you know for various events the police grab the railings railings and literally started moving people pushing them to the side and they cleared the entire streets so imagine in three minutes all of Times Square. There was empty cups of do that. Everybody thinks what she said. Steven I appreciated but I'm watching this with my assistant and we look at each other and I go this might become a news event. This is crazy and then I'm thinking wait a second. I gotTA keep shooting because I was getting. It was like this unbelievable whole thing because I was able to get all these photographs with no people in my seen so it really made for the post side to be a lot easier than it would have been otherwise so but yeah it was pretty crazy of course so when you said it's about fifty images on average fifty we generally use and like I said it's about three to four months of post work to finish you shooting other things while you're doing this yeah I'm. I'm a relentless photography like I. I actually have other cameras that I'll be shooting with my main camera. I'm seeing stuff but every so often I'll be like oh that's really cool and I you know I I have my there with might not counterweight just grabbing stuff you know do you use Wanna ask. Maybe the interview question nature. You're out photographer. You've talked about street photography in your heart of hearts What kind of photographer are you or do? You like to put that label on. It's a question I just love looking you know seeing things and so I've never allowed. I it's not about necessarily what I see. It's just the act of seeing that I love so much. I think it's the excitement of discovery for me. That's what photography is to me. I started when I took pictures through a microscope when I was twelve and so it was a draw to this idea that I was seeing something new for the first time and I think it's just a evolved into a constant sense of curiosity the city and so I don't I guess you know it really you know everybody says you know we shoot this. You should that and in the end. I really just think it's it's it's. I like looking at things that excite me and I think for me. The ultimate is when I get to show you something and hopefully you get as excited as I was when I sought so. It's it's. It's that idea of sharing. I think that's the beauty of photography I mean that's kind of the exciting thing even about like instagram. Today is is the idea that you could it just share the way you see something you know and and people have you know can you can everybody can see things but most people just don't look and that's that's really a a great gift and something I learned. I have my mentors Jamie's now I've been working on a documentary on Jay over the last couple years years. I've been doing it and that's such an important part of some of the lessons that he imparted the in terms of the idea of just looking. You know we all gotta look. Take the time to look now. No doubt you're going to be taking many more wonderful photographs in the future. Do you think you'd be able to come up with the project as Sir interesting in as interesting but as complex technically as this because this is more than just going out pictures. This is awesome awesome undertaking and a process yeah. I'd have to be honest with you. This is probably as complicated as anything I have ever created. I like to say to people it's essentially you know my primordial soup of photography. You know it's everything I love about the medium of photography like us like well if you think about data night I've I've Kinda. Put everything it's all in there. Everything's in there what what what is in there that I that I could possibly want or or need to have a fashion model and listen listen who knows this always something going on. I tend to get a lot of brides. Also that's always a funny element in Texas but yeah I mean to answer your question. I'm by nature. I'm sort of this kind of right. Brain left brain type thing so I'm always interested in new technology and things that are evolving and so I don't know I don't know where the next opportunity will come now. I'm actually exploring the idea of using time and connecting to rising rising seas. That's my my next big project that I'm working on and and potentially how do we how do we create an experience for people to understand stand a what the future is going to actually look like so. That's going to be a very exciting new bodywork that I'm just beginning on well. You know I stephen. I said up front I've long been a fan of your work. I I I you take the craft seriously and you push it to places where no one else has ever been and it's just great following you work. It's wonderful having you guys here. They leisure having my better half yeah. You're in trouble without hurting about it. Okay Okay folks want to see more of your work. Where should they go to take a look? Well certainly if you're you know based on the East Coast host in New York please go to bryce welcome gallery. He always has Stevens workup and the museum show National Geographic in Washington. DC is up through the end of April. MHM check that out because we've got the bird images or Twelve v twelve feet long. That's how and it's really an experience. The current issue of National Geographic Geographic has this migratory march issue and this is at the National Geographic Museum in Washington. DC and it's up till the twenty nine hundred eight Eh said and we have a book coming up. Yes is going to be published by Tashin out Wednesday coming out which we're scheduled for the fall okay. I think I'm going to copy all right another great show thank you Stephen. Thank you betty. Thank you for having us. Thank you to our listeners. If you're you're not a subscriber Goto revie have to go to where we going now these days we're going to I tunes. We're going to apple podcasts all the places where you could sign up you. You know all the places where I repeat them all the time so that's it on behalf of John Jason Myself.