Photography and Text by Ted Kawalerski, Copyright 2021
I was living in Rochester, New York at the time – about 37 years ago. Bausch&Lomb, the company that invented and manufactured Ray-Ban sunglasses, was one of my great clients – the kind of client that you ask the gods to connect with.
On one spectacularly beautiful summer morning the client (who was also a good friend of mine and partner in the pursuit of international hedonism) called and asked me to meet him at the airport. Ray-Ban used two stunt biplanes to fly at promotional events and he wanted me to shoot something with the two pilots and the planes. That was all the information that I had – no specific concepts. My assistant and I arrived in early afternoon.
My client, Frank Jepson, told me to shoot whatever I wanted. I think that his idea was to photograph the pilots speaking to one another in front of the planes and focus on the Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses that they were wearing. Bausch & Lomb invented these sunglasses for pilots that were flying in World War II. That’s the obvious connection with the planes. These pictures were boring the hell out of me so I asked the pilots if I could fly with them. I held my breath and expected this response-“are you fucking crazy?” Instead I get “no problem.”
They strapped me backwards into the front cockpit of one of the planes. This was perfect because there was no canopy and I had a great view of the pilot and the second plane in the background. I used two motor driven Nikon F3 cameras loaded with Kodachrome 64 film. One had a 15mm lens and the other a 20mm lens. I communicated to the pilot with hand signals and he would basically do anything that I wanted. He was talking to the other pilot and they worked out some great moves. We flew for about a half hour and wound up with one of the most challenging pictures that I ever made.
About The Photographer:
To access Ted Kawalerski’s website, click here: https://corkfactoryfilms.com/