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Time Frame

This photographer compressed dozens of moments on the highway into one image.

Two months after the birth of our daughter, I uprooted my family from the quiet mountains and valleys of northern Utah and moved them to the arid, ever-expanding suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona. In the name of higher education, we quit our jobs, sold our home, and plucked our newly born child from the loving arms of her grandparents. As the rigor and logistical difficulty of fieldwork in a new and unfamiliar place amassed with the stresses of graduate school, teaching, dwindling finances, and fatherhood, I began making work in response to what was closest to me—my family, my home, my neighborhood, and my personal experiences as a transplant to Phoenix.

For three years, my family and I lived directly within the flight path of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Located in the heart of the city, Sky Harbor is the ninth-busiest airport in the United States. On any given day, some 1,200 aircraft fly through the airspace above the Phoenix suburbs. We lived with the ever-present roar of 737s.

I photographed Seventy Flights in Ninety Minutes from the top of Hayden Butte in Tempe, Arizona. The publicly accessible volcanic butte is just beyond the airport and is straddled by Sky Harbor’s two busiest flight paths. For 90 minutes, I photographed every airplane that flew overhead, and then I digitally stitched together the many individual photographs. I hoped to re-create the experience of living in a flight path by compressing an hour and a half into one apparently single moment.

Another aspect of suburban life we grew increasingly familiar with is the necessity for freeway travel. Intertwined across the greater Phoenix area are five major freeway systems. Our home lay at the intersection of the 101 and 202 loops.

Entire 101 Freeway Loop, 91.2 Miles in 82 Minutes began as a stop-motion video animation. I steadied my camera on a tripod between the driver and passenger seats and, while driving the entire loop, used an interval timer to make one photograph for every minute of travel. Unhappy with the initial animation, I digitally compressed all 82 frames into one photograph. The result, not unlike an extended-time exposure, gives a glimpse of many different times and places in a single frame. Some areas with constant change become just a blur, while other static elements remain sharp and clear.

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