PROFILE: JASON HAWKES All images ÂŠ Jason Hawkes
Jason Hawkes is flying high in the pursuit of his art
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All images © Jason Hawkes
Many photographers don’t have the stomach for aerial work (more of which anon) but there are enough of them for Jason Hawkes’ prolonged prominence in the field to hold testament to his creativity flair, fortitude and business acumen. He is renowned nationally and internationally for his superb work with most of the big name advertising and design agencies on behalf of clients such as Nike and American Airlines. He also runs his own extremely successful photographic library,
supplies images to stock libraries such and took a while to build up a good as Getty has produced many books and list of clients, but I love the images won many awards. you can capture from the sky and would never look to come back to Often to be found slung from a harness the ground and shoot. dangling from a helicopter with its doors removed, Jason caught up with Image What traits make a good aerial for a ground-level chat. photographer? It’s all I’ve ever done since leaving Do you ever do any non-aerial work, college so that’s a difficult question. for business or pleasure? As flying is relatively expensive it took Apart from taking photographs of my a while to get clients who can pay for family, no never. I’ve concentrated enough airtime just to let you fly around on aerial work since starting out as a and see what you can find, which is the photographer in 1991. It’s a real niche one way of getting great images. With a
portfolio behind you, clients are much clearer on what they are getting for their money so have more trust in you.
straight back over me. The pilot was not amused, but I did clean the helicopter afterwards!
You definitely have to work very quickly, and be able to make quick judgement calls.
It looks like you were an early adopter of internet technology...how valuable has that part of your work been? I’ve been using the internet as a marketing tool for years, these days mostly through targeting news sites and blogs that will write about my work and show a good portfolio of my images.
It also helps to have a tough stomach. I’ve thrown up whilst flying before, although only once in twenty years. We were down in west England flying around in circles for about three hours. Not great as even though I lent right out of the helicopter it all got blown
Before cameras went digital I would
never read camera magazines and had had the same cameras for ten years. Now, as things change so rapidly, I’ve found myself becoming quite geeky. In fact even today I got an email from a senoir product manager I know at Adobe giving me a heads up on the new Beta version of Lightroom 2.6. which I needed to convert Raw files of my new Nikon D3S. What’s the one bit of equipment you couldn’t manage without? (apart from a helicopter!) Having tested every format and
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camera manufacturer over the last few years and I’m now firmly tied to Nikon. I increasingly shoot my aerial work at night, and they have worked extremely hard over the last three years in bringing out equipment with very low noise at higher ISOs. So apart from cameras I rely on GPS…using that with Lightroom you can just click a link and it opens up the location of your shot. Also reverse geocaching software, and of course a good harness! You’ve done a lot in this last year...a mix of commercial shoots, books,
awards judging for Campaign? Can you update us? I’ve shot two night aerial books, one of Las Vegas and have just finished my second which is of London. I’m very excited about the London one, the publishers are doing a lovely job of putting it together.
judge at the Campaign Press awards this year. There was some good work, but most eye opening for me was to see that some photographers literally enter their entire year’s work.
Your library looks very successful...is there such a thing as typical usage? My library does pretty well, although As I said I’ve just got hold of the new like most photographers I’m also with Nikon D3S and will be doing my Getty. I had a great site a few years ago first trial night shoot next week over with Digital Railroad, but they changed London. The results should be amazing. their business model and went bust (2500 photographers had their libraries I was really pleased to be asked to be a with them) so I’ve since had a new one
built from scratch at great expense. It’s quite good now and I’ll add new features as I think of them. Usage varies from the occasional, very large, worldwide campaign, to hundreds of smaller brochures and some quite exciting branding work which I really like as it usually involves more interesting imagery and I get more involved providing suitable searches.
people, you can get clearances pretty much anywhere and I’ve been lucky to work with people who allow me the time I need to get things set up. The main problem I find in the UK is the weather, which is obviously the one thing you can’t control. You have to take cloud base, wind and visibility into account both before and during shoots. There are obvious cost implications with helicopters (they’re about £1200 an Aerial work is challenging…you hour) but having said that you can cover have the weather to contend with a lot of ground in a few hours, so it’s and clearances to arrange… akin to a good studio set up in cost. It’s In the UK, as long as you know the right all about planning and knowing what
you need from the flight.
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Are there any detectable trends in your commissioned work? I can’t see many trends, you never know what you’ll be asked for next, especially in stock photography. Often it’s the obvious image of London, and then next just a plain field of grass with nothing in it as a backdrop to something else. Are there any dream shoots/ commissions/personal projects you’ve yet to fulfil?
Two locations. Dubai for its mad, man-made features and Iceland for its natural beauty. I’m currently trying to sort flights in Dubai for a national UK paper. They really are very difficult. You have to have a guy from the military come along on the flights and he can delete any images he doesn’t like. Even the editors at Getty don’t do that! Tell us a little-known fact about you? I don’t like heights! I’m fine once I’m in the air but hate being high up at
ground level. I’ve got bad memories of going up to the top of the Empire State Building for example…but had no problems at all flying around it. For Jason’s library, blog (nightshots with the DS3) and commissioned work: www.jasonhawkes.com Recent and upcoming books: Las Vegas at Night, Thunder Bay Press, ISBN 978-1607100118 London At Night, Merrell Publishers, publication date 1 March 2010 ISBN 978-1858945178