Local Photographer Soars Above New England


(Saturday, August 18, 2007 6:26 AM EDT)

Arlington photographer Jake McGuire always seems ready for an adventure, and the in-flight photo shoots for his most recent book, “Flying Above the New England Coast,” provided him with plenty of stories to tell.

McGuire spent the last two years photographing the New England coast - from Greenwich, Conn. to Eastport, Maine - in Cessna 172 single-engine planes and the occasional helicopter.

Many of the planes he chartered were built in the 1960s and '70s and had duct tape holding the interior together, McGuire said.

“Seeing the coast of New England from the air is incredibly rewarding,” he said. “But when the planes made it safely back to the ground, I always gave a sigh of relief and sought out a different kind of reward - a lobster dinner. I rewarded myself for still being alive.”

Aerial photography can be challenging, in part because the airplanes and helicopters shake, but he found ways to work through any hurdles.

Using high-winged Cessnas prevented wing obstruction in his photos, for example.

“I like doing aerials. There are certain things you can see in the air that you can't see on the ground,” he said. “I like flying. I'm afraid of heights, but looking through the viewfinder makes it like a movie.”

“Flying Above the New England Coast” is McGuire's fifth book, and he leapt at the opportunity when his publisher, Twin Lights Publishers, floated the idea by him.

“I said, ‘send me the contract, don't give it to anyone else!'” he said.

McGuire's other books feature photographs of Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Annapolis and the Tidewater region of Virginia.

McGuire, who comes from a family of artists and architects, became interested in photography at age 12, when his mother built a darkroom.

“I took a liking to it, and I had an eye for composition,” he said. “It's part genetics. [My family] isn't athletic, but we're good at the arts.”

Never formally trained, McGuire has had his work commissioned by the Presidential Inaugural Committee and featured on the cover of Life Magazine. His photos also appear in private collections, exhibitions and offices, and often are found in airline and travel magazines.

In 1992, McGuire received an Arts America grant from the United States Information Agency, and the chance to give photography lectures in the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain.

His career as a photographer has brought McGuire to more than 30 countries, including a stint in Saudi Arabia, where he and an English chemist made moonshine for local oil-field workers.

“I fled before I got beheaded,” he said with a chuckle.

Although McGuire's new book came out just a couple weeks ago, he already is working on two more, and doesn't seem ready to slow down.

“I think I have nine lives,” he said. “And I think I've used eight!”

To see McGuire's work, visit the McGuire Collection Gallery in Clarendon, or see the Web site at www.jakemcguire.com.

Jake McGuire's assignments have taken him, among other places, to Saudi Arabia.

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