That’s all you need to say. Last November, we took on a project with Wired UK magazine to photograph Richard Branson’s latest venture in attempting to conquer the final frontier: Space. We spent the good part of a week in the deserts of New Mexico and California, photographing the spaces and places, the infrastructure, the people, and ultimately Sir Richard himself.
We’re starting off our behind the scenes coverage with the first part of the shoot – photographing the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space. We were granted unrestricted access to world’s first commercial spaceport. Still under construction and still very much under-wraps, we had the day to explore and make photos of this incredible piece of architecture. Keep reading for the full story…
We were up and on the road early – we spent hours cruising south from Albuquerque headed towards destination unknown. No address for the GPS, no coordinates to get us where we needed to go, we were only told to meet our contact in the last town before nowhere; Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
After a successful rendezvous with our Virgin Galactic guide, we were off again – speeding through the desert towards the first passenger spaceport in the world.
All the security clearances were in order. Weeks of pre-production, permits, and negotiation took care of that. We entered the gates of the spaceport and broke out the cameras.
We found ourselves feeling as if we’d been transported to another planet. Empty runways stretched towards the horizon and blended in with the surrounding mountain ranges.
As usual, superstar photo assistant Jared was only a moment away with the tripod, ready to spring in to action.
Surrounded by nothing but sand and distracted by no one, we worked throughout the day, covering the spaceport from every possible angle we could think of.
That includes the angles which require Chris to hop on the roof of our rental car and get driven around the spaceport. Wired worked these shots into an amazing animated sequence for their iPad edition of the magazine (which you can download here. It’s hard to find a physical copy of the magazine in the states so this might be your best option).
No day shooting in the desert would be complete without some tumbleweed shots. It’s too bad I couldn’t fit these guys into our luggage to take back to the studio in Philly.
Exploring the spaceport and surrounding runways, we realized the uniqueness of this location. We’ve photographed lots of places but nothing quite like this.
As the sun set on the Gateway to Space, we shot our final frames and started back to Albuquerque. In less than a year this jarringly quiet spot in the desert will be the bustling hub of commercial space tourism, with over 200 flights already booked. I’ve got my fingers crossed that the next time we’re back this way we’ll be headed Up.
Want to see more? Stay tuned… we’ve got two more blog posts to share about this incredible editorial project. We’ll be going behind the scenes in the Mojave desert in California to show you how we shot the spaceships themselves as well as breaking down the cover composite featuring Sir Richard Branson himself.