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on Feb 22, 2012 in Aviation

The Arizona Ground Crew


It was one of those mornings when what clouds were present were leaving Dodge fast! That was a bummer because we had the amazing Arizona Ground Crew crew with us and I had “Cripes A’ Mighty” pulled out of the hangar for them to use for a backdrop. Now to be totally honest, pulling out a bunch of flash units and setting up a set just was something I didn’t want to do. It’s simply a pain in the ass and slows down photography in my book. So we started to work with what light we did have. I took Scott and first, put him as silhouette and went click.

And while that seemed like a kinda good idea, it really wasn’t. I went to a five image HDR to make something happen visually. The side of the Mustang was hot and the silhouette needed to be black while I wanted to keep the color and HDR was the best option. OK…made a click but it was a waste of the talent and the background. What to do?!

I turned around then to see the DC-3 that just the day before went into annual being kissed by the sun. A second later we had abandoned the set the Crew and set up around Cripes and were over at the DC-3. Now the DC-3 when in military use was called a C-47 and it’s the plane that is best known for dropping the boys into Europe during D-Day. Well the Crew were all over this new set in some gorgeous light!


Now here’s the deal with the Arizona Ground Crew. These guys who I think the world of, are the only re-inactors who are ground crew, most are pilots. Everything they have with them from pencils to overalls are authentic from 1940s military, they are not repos. And their props, from the Whole Nine Yards to tables, ladders, hang engine warmer, thermos, everything is from WWII! And, they know their history and planes! And the best part, they are funnier then %*(# ! It’s hard to shoot because you’re laughing so much. And they don’t stop, they just keep on going and going and going.

This shot was so simple to take. The light was hittin the boys and by simply moving to the left, the DC-3 in shade made for the perfect backdrop to make them pop. Then, I simply watched the boys and when I saw the geometric design you see here, I went click. There is no way in a lifetime I could set up enough flash units to get a feel to the light like we got from the photo gods that morning.

As the sun came up, the soft glow went away so I went looking for scenarios where the harder light would lend itself to the Crew and DC-3. I don’t really give any staging to the Crew, they just pick a them and go at it. But what I do do after a little while is simply yell shift! When I do, the Crew being the professionals they are simply find a new “repair” to make and go at it. They move ladders and props and themselves and create a whole new set with just the simple que.

What I love best about the Crew is their effect on photographers. The crew were brought in for our Air2Air Workshops and there always seems to be one photographer not “thrilled” to be photographing models. But this crew melts even the coldest fish and within minutes have everyone laughing and shutters flying. One of my favorite people, Pedro from Brazil said half way through the shoot, “I’ve already shot 400 frames, I would have never thought….” What you see here are just a couple of clicks from the morning. There are more with some stories that will come in the future. And as for the Crew, they are already signed up for our Fall Air2Air in AZ. It just wouldn’t be the same without them!