On January 15 of this year New Yorker's got a ringside seat to a most unusual event, the safe landing of USAir Flight 1549 in the Hudson River. In March I wrote about the problems photographer Stephen Mallon was having in showing the photos he had been contracted to take of the salvaging of that flight.
After lots of publicity and back and forth, Mallon was able to publish his work with minor alterations. Now "Brace For Impact: The Aftermath of Flight 1549" has opened at the Front Room Gallery at 147 Roebling Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I went there last night to see the 13 large scale photographs and they look fantastic! It's an exhibit worth seeing, so get yourselves over to Brooklyn now. I asked Stephen some questions about his background and his work.
Tell us a bit about your photography background
I got started pretty early with my dad’s AE-1, with my first photo being at age 3. I shot on and off for the next 12 yrs, and after not pursuing a military career I decided to go after photography. I got my BFA from RIT in 1996, assisted HASHI, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, Bob Sacha, Mark Seliger, and many others, making just about every imaginable mistake and learning from some of them (the mistakes).
I started shooting as soon as I arrived with my first editorial job in '96 for Black Book magazine. By the year 2000 I had my first cover shoot for a computer trade magazine, CRN along with a contract with Image Bank. Both have lead me into many great places in my almost 10-year shooting career.
What made you settle on industrial photography?
Ive always been a fan of the sandbox. It was what I was shooting when I was 15, got away from it for a while but was always staring at the antennas and bucket loaders when I was on the road. As my commercial and fine art careers were moving along, I realized I was always drifting back to shooting dirt and machines. A push came from a creative director who was looking at my work and told me that the landscapes I was shooting were beautiful, but to make it market-friendly there needed to be a human element involved. Another meeting, and another Sr. art buyer pointed out that I needed to incorporate the workers as well to truly succeed.
How did you get to photograph the salvaging of Flight 1549?
Weeks Marine,(the crane company) began commissioning me after I photographed their ongoing project of retiring 1500 NY subway cars and putting them in the ocean to form artificial reefs. Our working relationship started growing from there.
Can you sum up the situation with the embargo and how it was lifted?
The images had been pulled up and down from the web site a number of times between the NTSB and AIG, and it was a little scary when I wasn’t sure if the images were going to be visible ever. Pressure mounted to release the photos and with the help from two lawyers, Amy Benjamin and Victor Pearlman (ASMP!), journalists, and fans, the images were released again. I was able to get the legal firm representing AIG and USAirways to grant all the self-promotional usage that I had asked for as long as the logo of their client was not clearly visible. The NTSB had a hold on the interiors for a little while after that but once the investigation was over they were also released. The interiors are currently not on my site. Please stop by to see the prints at the show!
Tell us about the show
“Brace for Impact: The Aftermath of Flight 1549” opens at Front Room Gallery Thursday Sept 10th (TODAY!) with a reception on Saturday, September 12th The prints range from 20x30 to 40x60 and were printed by Luscious Ink and I have to say look pretty frackin great! A limited edition catalog is available at the gallery.
What are you itching to shoot?
Ooooh nuclear submarines, I might be heading to 3 Mile Island soon, those airplane graveyards in the West and in Australia, the tunneling under the Hudson River, military recycling, and the military's new hydrogen locomotive, to name a couple.
Hopefully 3 Mile Island. I have to work on a grant proposal for a ship breaking yard in Texas, and there is a sewage treatment plant I am on hold for, and lectures! I am speaking at B&H Photo in New York on October 1st, at Front Room Gallery October 3rd, and a little bit at PhotoPlus Expo on October 23rd.