When we think about people who carry the aviation industry forward we tend to give more weight to pilots, engineers, entrepreneurs and scientists and completely forget about those supporting the industry tremendously while working in more artistic fields. That’s not to say that the importance attached to pilots and engineers is too much, not in the very least. Of course we must learn and know about our aviators and admire the work they do. But while doing that, we should also not forget about people like Paul Bowen, a talented photographer who has been shooting aerial photography for more than 40 years.
Not so many people ever get to turn their passion into a successful and profitable business and get recognition for it. And especially when this passion is of artistic nature, chances get even slimmer. But against all odds Paul Bowen has accomplished a lot as an aerial photographer and he has managed to become a very well known name in the world of aviation. He was even listed as one of the “51 Heroes of Aviation” by Flying Magazine in 2013.
Based in Wichita, Kansas, Paul Bowen is a commercial photographer who is passionate about both his main craft and aviation. Since 1972 Bowen has been taking pictures of airplanes in action. Bowen is an expert in what’s called air to air photography it’s basically taking the pictures of an aircraft in the air from another aircraft. As a lover of both photography and the skies, Paul Bowen takes these stunning pictures of aircraft from the seat of a World War 2 era B-25 Mitchell.
After discussing the maneuvers and safety concerns while still on the ground, both aircraft take off and the communication is done through a headset, microphone and hand signals. Although the method sounds simple, it’s definitely not easy and one has to be brave and talented to take good photos like this. Luckily, Paul Bowen is both and the photos he takes are absolutely beautiful. They are so good that since his first day as an aerial photographer in 1972, they’ve been on the covers of more than 1,000 magazines and in numerous advertising campaigns.
When Bowen first got into aerial photography, his first shot was The Beech Baron. During the shooting process he got air sick because of having to look through the lens in an aircraft doing all those hard maneuvers. His favourite shot through the years was the one for Bombardier Global Express, which started in Hong Kong and after passing through Sydney and Honolulu, ended in San Fransisco. Although he took many great photos over the years, there is one that he still dreams about; The Space Shuttle.
According to him the heroes of all his photos are the pilots. However, he is considered a hero himself in the aviation industry, his many accomplishments and acknowledgements are the best proof of this. For example, International Society for Aviation Photography has given Paul Bowen their highest honor, The Award of Excellence in 2008. All in all, he is an inspirational figure for anyone interested in photography or aviation.
airtoair.net Editor (n.d.), Meet Paul Bowen, AirToAir.net, Retrieved May 3 2021
< http://www.airtoair.net/meetpb/meetpb.htm >
Daniel McCoy (October 17, 2014), Aerial photographer Paul Bowen relishes chase for the perfect shot, Wichita Business Journal, Retrieved May 3 2021
< https://www.bizjournals.com/wichita/print-edition/2014/10/17/aerial-photographer-paul-bowen-relishes-chase-for.html >
Matthew Sinclair (n.d.), Paul Bowen Air-to-Air Photographer, B&H, Retrieved May 3 2021
< https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/canon/artist/paul-bowen >
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