Using high-resolution cameras mounted on a stabilizing gyro, Jeffrey Milstein leans out of helicopters and circles in small aircraft over Los Angeles where he grew up and New York where he now lives. He is looking for patterns of culture from above, awed by the difference between the aerial perspective and the view on the ground. A pilot since he was 17, Milstein’s favorite pastime as a child in the 1950s was to stand at the end of the runways at LAX and watch the airplanes as they landed. His new book LANY: Aerial Photography of Los Angeles and New York is a portfolio of aerial photography of his favorite cities.
New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, from a Cessna 182
Venice, California, fishing pier: “The Hollywood sign, Universal, and the Venice fishing pier were shot from a Robinson R44 with the door off. These were made over several flights around Los Angeles to gather images for my about-to-be-released book 'LANY', which features aerial photographs of L.A. and New York. The Hollywood sign was printed on fabric as wall art and is used in many of the rooms in the newly opened Wilshire Grand Hotel in L.A.”
Hollywood Hills, California: “Everyone shoots the Hollywood sign from the front, but I thought it was more suggestive seeing it backward.”
Universal Studios, Los Angeles: “I shot Universal several times from a Robinson R44. While flying over, I saw this Boeing 747 crash. Later researching, I discovered it was a scene for the Steven Spielberg film War of the Worlds. Now they drive buses past it with tourists.”
The Statue of Liberty, New York City: “The Statue of Liberty was shot from a Robinson R44. The challenge was to get the pilot to put me exactly over the top of the statue and grab the photo at just the precise moment. In this case it worked out well and this has been a very popular image.”
Jeffrey Milstein: At first Milstein photographed airliners directly underneath as they came in for landings at LAX. Several years ago Milstein had a dream that he was at an art show and was captivated by pictures of the tops of New York buildings. He decided to turn his camera downward and since then has chartered countless airplanes and helicopters to form a stunning portfolio of aerial photography.
Power ranger in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, New York City: “I thought it would be fun to shoot the Macy’s Day Parade from the air. In order to do that and make the family Thanksgiving dinner in New York City, I had to pay an extra large fee to have the helicopter from New Jersey drop me off in Manhattan.”
Disney Dream Cruise, Port Canaveral, Florida: “I had this idea to do large cruise ships as portraits like I did with the aircraft. So after checking cruise ship departures I flew down and got a Robinson 44 out of Port Canaveral. As it got darker we followed the Disney cruise offshore and they turned on the lights and it lit up like a jewel. That was the first of several flights to shoot cruise ships.”
Jeffrey Milstein’s latest book will be released in early November.