America West Airlines Boeing 757-200, © Jeffrey Milstein, courtesy Paul Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles
A lot of Creative Review readers have been in touch to say how much they enjoyed Jeffrey Milstein’s images of aircraft published in our June issue. So we got in touch with the photographer to find out a little more about his work…
Virgin Atlantic Airways Airbus A340-300, © Jeffrey Milstein, courtesy Paul Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles
CR: First up we’d like to know a bit more about the AirCraft project: How do you take the images? What’s the process?
JM: I have been shooting aircraft for many years (I am a private pilot and have always had a special attraction to planes and flying) and over time the images evolved into this very formal portrait. It is a kind of distillation to focus attention on something not usually appreciated, yet strikingly beautiful. I take the pictures near the end of the runway, mostly at LAX. I use a 39mpxl digital back on a Contax 645. I use Photoshop to remove the backgrounds, and I print limited edition pigment inkjet prints in 20″x20″ and 40″x40″ size, which sell in my galleries in NY and LA.
Qantas Boeing 747-400, © Jeffrey Milstein, courtesy Paul Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles
CR: Was the idea to make them look like studio portraits?
JM: It wasn’t a conscious decision, more an intuitive process that just evolved over time. My first career was architecture, and if you think about it the way I am presenting the aircraft is really like architectural drawings. I think years of architect drawings has left it’s impression on my subconscious.
Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767-300ER, © Jeffrey Milstein, courtesy Paul Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles
CR: Can you explain why you started the project? What was the fascination with planes?
JM: It’s something I had as a child. I built and flew models and loved to go to the end of the runway at the Los Angeles International airport and have the planes come right over me while they were landing. I think it represented escape. There’s a movie called Pushing Tin with John Cusack and Billie Bob Thornton, where they go out to the end of the runway and have the planes come in right over them. It’s almost a spiritual experience for them. I wanted to capture that moment which is so fleeting, and freeze it.
China Airlines Boeing 747-400, © Jeffrey Milstein, courtesy Paul Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles
CR: How many have you shot?
I have shot hundreds, but they are not all the same quality. The more I do it, the better I get at it, and in the last year I have had the latest 39mpxl camera which has given me the best detail.
Aer Lingus Airbus A330-200, © Jeffrey Milstein, courtesy Paul Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles
CR: We also really liked your industrial archaeology project – can you tell us a little about the thinking behind that and where the images were taken?
JM: Thanks. I have always been drawn to old industrial architecture. The decay and the sculptural shapes. I love to wander around these abandoned places with their history, and layers of old peeling paint and newer graffiti and paint ball splatterings. It is a reflection on how everything eventually decays, no matter how hard we try, everything including our own bodies slowly decay, and yet it can be very beautiful.