Eyes in the Sky
Selected works by Scott McFarlane
Asymmetric Magazine: Tell us about your current photography work.
Scott McFarlane: I focus on landscape aerials, aerial portraits, lifestyle, and travel photography with a variety of clients. And love trying out new techniques as camera technologies emerge.
AM: What is your biggest inspiration?
SM: The ocean. I try to incorporate it in almost all of my shots as I am constantly in awe of how different the sea can look depending on the light. And I am fortunate enough to live by the beach in Southern California, so that inspiration is easily fed every day. I am also very inspired by the design of typography.
AM: We love your aerial photography! How did you get started working with drones?
SM: Ahh, the D-word! To some people the word “drone” has a negative connotation and they prefer the geeky terms “quadcopter” or “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” instead. But I don’t mind “drone.” I got started with drones a few years ago. I own a video production company so incorporated them as an invaluable filmmaking tool. When I got into serious photography, I was tired of seeing the same old stale shots of famous landmarks and locations, so the aerials offered a fresh perspective.
AM: What challenges do you face when using drones as oppose to traditional photography?
SM: There are a ton of challenges compared to going out with a DSLR and shooting traditionally. Since drones are a relatively new technology, the FAA is constantly creating new rules and regulations. Before taking off, you must perform a pre-flight checklist and make sure you avoid No Fly Zones that are within range of airports or in areas with potential safety/security concerns. Then, when in the air, you must pay attention to the weather, maintain a line of sight, and deal with nosy bystanders (most of which are genuinely interested in what you’re doing). And now the French military are training eagles to take down drones that could be possible threats so, yeah, will soon need to watch out for drone-hunting eagles, too. Many challenges, but the results are worth it.
AM: What is your favorite place to photograph in California?
SM: Anywhere along the coast that is outside a No Fly Zone. And far away from eagle nests.
AM: When you're shooting—how much of it is instinctual vs. planned?
SM: Locations are planned but when I get there and start exploring, anything can happen. You discover all sorts of new things with eyes in the skies.
AM: How would you best describe your style?
SM: I strive for a very clean aesthetic–prefer center symmetry and minimalism. The less distractions in the photo the better. Imagine a mashup between director Stanley Kubrick and photographer Michael Kenna–that’s what I strive for.
AM: What themes do you typically pursue in your work?
SM: I generally do not focus on specific themes, but if I had to choose one it would be examining the interaction between puny, insignificant man within the grandeur of nature. I usually incorporate at least one human subject in my photos, although you may not notice them at first glance.
AM: What music is currently inspiring you?
SM: I love discovering new music on SoundCloud. “Surf” and “Rockabilly” are the search keywords I use the most.
AM: What can we expect to see from you next?
SM: Next month, I am heading to the Philippines with my wife to shoot aerials for a tourism company, which I am super excited about. I also have a few art shows coming up and selling prints at galleries. Other than that, I try to go out every day and capture something new so make sure to check out my Instagram @scott_mcfarlane.
Scott McFarlane is an LA-based photographer and videographer. You can view more of his work at scottmcfarlanephotography.com.