Boeing jetliners, from its first 707 to the latest 787 Dreamliner, line up along a Boeing Field taxiway in Seattle, WA on July 15, 2016 to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary – Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren
One of the best parts of doing this whole AirlineReporter gig is all the people that I end up meeting. Very early on I met Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren. He was working for NYCAviation.com at the time and we were both new to the airline blogging world. He was also based in Seattle and we created a friendship and have always had a healthy competition.
It was obvious to me that Jeremy was an extremely talented photographer. Early on, I think he would agree that I often won our healthy competition, but the jealous pendulum soon swung the other direction. Soon, bigger and bigger names were looking to make use of his skills and abilities (and rightfully so). He did time as co-Editor-in-Chief with AirwaysNews (Airchive at the time) and was getting more and more freelance work — including USA Today. He has taken photos of some amazing airline-related events and some non-aviation stuff too (including the Super Bowl). He even took the photo that I am currently using on my author profile and Twitter account (while we were in Houston).
Jeremy and me getting down to business in Houston… kind of.
Going from being an AvGeek with a camera to one heck of an amazing photojournalist is quite the journey. I wanted to share some of his perspective via an interview that we had.
This is never a good thing to see on your computer screen
I realize this is not one of your usual #AvGeek stories on AirlineReporter, but if you’re a traveler, writer, planespotter, and/or photographer (and I happen to be all of the above to some degree), then you know that photos, whether they are taken to tell a story or record a memory, are your treasure, the fruits that result from your hard labor.
My photos may not be valuable to others, but certainly they are valuable to me… some might even be priceless and irreplaceable. Given that, you’d think I’d be more careful about protecting them. Heck, I tell others how to protect their data all the time (just ask my wife). Yet somehow, I never did… maybe it was procrastination, or naivete thinking a relatively new laptop wouldn’t fail, but in any case I had the majority of my photos in one place… on my laptop’s hard drive. I will be the first to admit that what I did was stupid.
So imagine that pit in my stomach that occurred when I hit the power button on my laptop and a simple text system notification appeared on my screen: “Bootable device not found…”
Taking a shot of an F-16… air-to-air
Every now and then, the stars align, and the trip you often dream about lands in your lap. Events over the last five years came together over a few days, and the decision to attend the 2015 Sanicole International Airshow in Belgium was made. As a bonus, while researching the trip from Vancouver, Canada, I came across the opportunity for an air-to-air photoshoot. How could I refuse? One new camera and two new lenses later…
Traffic at six O’clock: looking out the back of the skyvan, taking air-to-air shots
DAY 1: Vancouver to Toronto on Air Canada & Toronto to Belgium on Jet Airways
It’s been close to 20 years since I’ve flown business class (never on my own dime), so I was excited to start my trip in the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge in Vancouver (YVR). I work at the airport, so it’s always nice to get a new viewpoint of the apron. I knew I’d be eating non-stop for awhile, so I made do with just a quick coffee and muffin in the lounge, before heading to the gate.
Aviation enthusiasts pose with a Virgin Atlantic A340 – Photo: Daniel Palen
As an avid plane spotter, I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with the curious/uninformed public, skeptic law enforcement officers (LEOs), airport staff, and even airline employees. Typically these exchanges go positively and, with luck, without missing out on any good shots: “Who are you? What are you doing? Why are you taking photos in a post-9/11 world?” To which I respond: JL Johnson, frequent traveler, airline reporter, and, most importantly: AvGeek.
Typically I tell them about my passion and how [whatever organization they represent] is generally supportive (or at least tolerant) of such activity. It’s not uncommon that I pull out an iDevice and show the inquirer samples of my work and/or tweets endorsing or acknowledging spotting from various institutions (I keep a list of tweets handy for this very reason – you should too).
While doing homework on the environment in advance of spotting is key, I find that the more geeky and passionate I make the conversation the quicker a situation is defused. Apparently geeks can’t be bad guys. For whatever reason, people respond better not to fact, but passion/emotion. So I bring both.
Plane spotting – even toddlers do it! Photo: JL Johnson
That’s the typical interaction. Alas, my attempts to convince folks that I’m not a terrorist and that my telephoto lens doesn’t shoot plane-crippling ray-gun beams are not always successful. I had one such interaction recently at Chicago’s Midway Airport (MDW) which I’d like to detail if only to clear the air about what’s generally allowed vs. not, how to handle these encounters, and to assure my AvGeek brethren that it’s typically OK to take photos of publicly-visible property from public areas. But…your results may vary.