Currently based in New York City, photographer Dinesh Boaz's body of work covers the globe - literally - with images taken in locations including Arizona, Hawaii, Florida, Israel, Greece, and Iceland, to name a few. And as an aerial photographer, the bulk of Dinesh's creative studio time actually takes place in the sky. We chatted with Dinesh about the uniqueness of his process (travel thousands of feet in the air to take stunning photos from a helicopter with no doors), the challenges that can arise (see: earlier in this sentence), and where he might be off to next.
And, you can click here to see his collection of photography, including three brand new pieces featuring the Texas-based Formula 1 racetrack.
Our Interview with Dinesh Boaz
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Chennai, India and moved to the US when I was 7 years old. I also have close extended family in Sri Lanka so I have a strong connection there too.
How would you describe your work?
My work is a shifting of perspective in how we experience the world. By emphasizing symmetry, curves, colors, and details in the landscapes below, I attempt to take the viewer into a unique dream-like meditative state - suspending time and expanding space. There is a beauty in finding this moment and the emotions that come from it - which I seek to convey in my work. By honing in on the details below, my work unravels new stories for a viewer to interpret - on how the images I present fit within our bigger perspective of the world below.
How did you get started with aerial photography? Did you ever try different media prior to that or has it always been photography?
I have always been interested in pushing the boundaries of photography- and after my first helicopter flight in 2017, I found a connection with the process and focused in on it since then.
What is your artistic process like? What goes in to capturing such massive spaces in images from above?
I scope out each location before I travel there and look for interesting points to shoot from the air. These could be natural elements in the landscape, bodies of water, coast lines or any epic natural setting that draws me in that is unique to each place. Once I get up in the air, there is a lot of coordination that takes place with the pilot to find locations to cover that I can also capture. Once over a location, the pilot will run a series of bank turns to get us directly above what I would like to capture. We typically fly between 800 to 1500 feet and I always fly with the doors off.
What is your favorite part of that process?
My favorite part of the process is the feeling of being in the present moment, pausing time and all my outside thoughts; it's a meditative moment where I can focus on in the idea I seek. This works when everything aligns with the pilot, on that day, in that place, with all the elements of that particular moment. Those moments only happen once and are always so unique wherever I go - I seek to create this feeling in my work.
Is there ever a particularly challenging part of the process?
Weather is always a challenge, and safety. I have to find the right companies and pilots to fly with. I typically arrive at a location two days early to account for weather, and I spend a lot of time speaking to the pilot before we go up to gauge their proficiency flying with photographers, and their commitment to safety when flying.
It seems composition would be important with this type of photography. Do you tend to decide on composition during a shoot, or is that a decision you make afterwards, during editing?
I frame everything when I am up in the air in realtime as the shoot progresses. I try to take several angles, elevations and approaches over each so I have options in the editing process. This is a part of the process of working out these things in realtime by coordinating the shoot with a pilot. I only use the editing process to bring out the colors and details in the image.
How do you choose locations to photograph?
I choose locations by the uniqueness of the place and the opportunities to explore it from the air.
Do you have a favorite location so far?
Most recently, I flew to Iceland in September and that was my favorite in terms of a stunning landscape - it was beautiful beyond anything I've ever seen. I also enjoyed flying in Austin, Texas over the USA Grand Prix Formula 1 race in December. That was the most unique and exhilarating shoot - where we were flying around the track chasing supercars at speeds over 150 mph+.
Is there anywhere you haven’t been that you’d like to go next?
Once the pandemic settles down, I want to go to Australia and spend two weeks along the coast lines both on the east and west coasts - exploring, and shooting new work. The colors and uniqueness of the landscapes and beaches there look amazing and the country seems like a very special place to explore.
Are there any artists who have inspired you or your work?
Absolutely - Edward Burtynsky, Olafur Eliasson, Andreas Gursky, Slim Aarons, and Milton Avery.
In 10 words or less, what is your goal as an artist?
To inspire, uplift, fuel thought and create calm.
What non-art-related things do you do in your free time?
I like to spend time with my wife Amrita and two children Rahul (12) and Uma (8) - both in NYC where we live and travelling. I also like cooking and hanging out with friends, and working out and playing as much tennis and squash as I can.
Dinesh's 2016 photograph titled All of the People (above) was awarded Grand Prize by National Geographic in their #MyFloridaAdventure contest. The image was taken above Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota. Of the piece, National Geographic said, "We loved how the bird's eye view in this photo turned beach bathers and their colorful towels and umbrellas into patterns on the inviting sand, which contrasts boldly with the turquoise waters. Who wouldn't want to find their Florida adventure here?"
Our new series by Dinesh Boaz was shot above the Formula 1 Racetrack in Texas. Listen to Dinesh's take on his latest work.