Searching for Earth's beautiful blemishes
A veteran Air Force photographer revisits an aerial series capturing the lush mosaic of Honduras' terrain
(Jeremy Lock)Twenty-four years, seven Military Photographer of the Year awards, and one Bronze Star for distinguished service in Iraq later, the now 44-year-old Lock has left the military — but not his high-flying photographic career."I miss the military every day," Lock, who is based out of Dallas, says. "I miss being surrounded by passionate photographers and the camaraderie that goes with the military. However, [retirement from the Air Force] has given me the time to launch two exhibitions…and work with great clients I might never have known."
(Jeremy Lock) While Lock shoots plenty of portraits and on-the-ground photographs, his forte in the Air Force was aerial shoots — vital to many missions, as the photographs are used to gather intelligence, survey populations, and assess disaster areas. And it was during these long hours of travel that Lock was able to experiment with the form."A flight could last up to eight hours, but the mission I was tasked to photograph usually took minutes," he says. "I had a lot of extra time on the plane, so I reverted to a game I'd come up with while on patrols or convoys on the ground. I would challenge myself with capturing images out the window as we were moving fast by them, changing up lenses from wide to longer to make it even harder. The more I played the game, the better I got."
(Jeremy Lock) The images featured in this post are from a 2012 medical mission Lock shot with the Air Force of two Honduran villages. The photographer says he is always struck by how different the world looks from above: "There is a beauty of lines, patterns, and textures that just can't be seen from walking around on the ground.""The terrain changed quickly from our base to the remote locations of Wawina and the coastal village of Batalla," he says. "We flew in and out every day, over small mountains, then jungles, villages, and the coast line."
(Jeremy Lock)The bird's eye perspective can make any image striking. But Lock's decades' worth of training help to create a polished photograph even when the elements are against him. Often, he is flying in an airplane instead of a helicopter, which means angling the camera to eliminate glare. And while, like any photographer, Lock would love to shoot solely during the magic hours of early morning and late afternoon, many of his missions took place at high noon — when the sun is at its strongest, creating more extreme shadows and highlights — forcing him to be creative."When I was young, I cut my eye on a sled, and my mother told me that scars add character to a person," Lock says. "I think scars add character to the Earth, too. So first and foremost, I am looking for its character. After that, I am looking for color and shapes that enhance this character, followed by some human feature that speaks to the types of people living in this region."
(Jeremy Lock)Lock's military career may have come to a close, but the edict he learned there — "give back as freely as you receive" — will continue to command his future photography projects."My dream is to work with organizations that are making a difference in this world, for causes I can get behind like I did with our military," Lock says. "As for subjects, there are so many interesting people in this world, and they all have their own story. One just has to open the front door to find them."
(Jeremy Lock) **To see more of Jeremy Lock's work, visit his website, and follow him on Instagram**