As an architectural and interior photographer in New York specializing in luxury projects, Evan Joseph has climbed onto extraordinary terraces and exclusive roofs. After a decade of shooting skyline views, however, he went in search of an even loftier angle. Nowhere to look but up, he took to the skies.
Working closely with a pilot, Joseph shoots New York City in a helicopter at night. After a lot of practice, his pilot started pulling off aerial maneuvers that allowed Joseph to take shots he, previously, could only dream of getting. Though Joseph’s photos look effortless, capturing the colors and drama of the living city isn’t easy. In fact, he calls it “a tremendous technical challenge.” Dangling from a helicopter, which hovers 2,500 feet in the air, Joseph uses a homemade stabilization device to get these spectacular shots.
“The helicopter is like a giant tripod that moves when I talk into the headset,” he tells us. “I sometimes wish I could just take the ride! I’m always concentrating so hard on the web of equipment I have with me, so many different interconnected pieces of very high-tech equipment, and each one needing to be adjusted perfectly, and so concerned that I get it all right since there’s not a second chance. Mostly it’s just COLD, since all the doors are off.
“I wanted to avoid the usual ‘field of stars on black’ look that other night aerials have, and solving that puzzle was very satisfying. Printing the photographs very large and seeing them displayed was especially fun, as the equipment I used has yielded so much detail you can almost see people in their apartments.”
Joseph recently came out with a book called New York City at Night where he’s put together a collection of both aerial and street-level photos (as seen below).
Here’s the book’s description. “With its dramatically lit skyscrapers, twinkling bridges, neon lights, and yellow cabs streaking down Broadway, it’s no wonder that New York is the city that never sleeps! From the awesome golden sunsets over the Hudson River to the pale yellow sunrise breaking over the East River, you’ll see the world’s most popular city illuminated like never before.”
When asked what kind of tips he’d give to those interested in architectural photography, Joseph had this to say, “Shoot constantly and court failure. My first three flights yielded not a single publishable frame. It was only through persistent trial and error that I was able to find a unique solution to this technical challenge, I learned everything I could and applied all my experience but in the end I had to develop my own processes.”