Aaron Eckhart, Baker California, 2007 Archival Pigment Print

Aaron Eckhart, Baker California, 2007 Archival Pigment Print

Archival Pigment Print

Signed and Numbered by the artist

Edition of 50

11x14", 16x20", 20x24" or 30x36"

   A simple idea can say so much, and often these ideas come without warning, in the middle of a shoot, and pass without much notice. This picture of Aaron Eckhart was one of those moments. We were running around the sand dunes with a bunch of complicated ideas—we had a dune buggy, a motorcycle, a helicopter and other props to make an epic image in the desert at sundown.  But the sun was still a little high, so we were exploring the terrain and preparing for our helicopter shot. Aaron loved the environment, and I started shooting him running around the sand.  He stretched his arms out to the sun at one point, and threw his head back. In these situations, I try to be a willing participant in whatever is going on, so I will attempt to keep up with the camera while occasionally tossing out ideas. Aaron fell down to his knees and got back up, and a little idea struck me. I said, “Do the trust-game thing where you fall back into someone’s arms—but since it is sand, just fall back onto your butt.”  Aaron gamely did it, and I shot a frame, and we moved on.
   I didn’t think much more about the shot, believing either my motorcycle shot or my helicopter shot were going to be the best pictures for the magazine. And as it turns out, they were: Outside Magazine ran a cover image of Aaron fish-tailing on the motorcycle.
   I got back to the studio, and when I looked at all the film, the falling down picture really stood out to me. I think it was something about the way the shape of the dunes flow into the angle of Aaron’s body. The effect gives the viewer a sense that something more complicated is going on—I have had several questions about this image, and rarely do people guess that Aaron is just falling down. A lot of people think the wind is holding him up.
  This picture never gets old to me, I think because it has that delicate sense of balance between subject and background, along with the tension of Aaron’s body being in an unnatural position. I also like this image because it came about so effortlessly, almost like an accident. The magic of photography, for me, will always be that razor’s edge between observation and manipulation. Did you create a moment, or did you capture a moment? My favorite photographs hint at the mystery and magic that moving life can’t supply me-- those split seconds where we get to observe humanity and stop time.

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