The beauty of time as it passes us by: something we all want to forever freeze, capture, savour. Who are we kidding, time doesn’t stop for anyone! Well, Stephen Wilkes has managed the impossible with simple equipment and a hell lot of perseverance. He took on this Herculean task six years ago in a simpler form, calling it a “love poem to New York City.” Soon he realized this project could not end within a single urban setting. For him it became a way to treat the world with a window of insight into its life and beauty as time passes us by, all in one picture.
His images show a spectrum of light, time, and life itself. He captures the movement of the micro and the macro as he clubs together each colour of a day within a single frame. His process is not only requires skill but also meticulous hard work and long hours. He’s kissed his bladder goodbye whilst he resides 40-50 feet above the ground in a Condor bucket truck as a silent observer. A single image is the manifestation of four months of post-processing 1400-1600 photos. He watches the world breathe non-stop for 16-30 hours with only a few minutes of meditation dedicated to the luxury of a break. Even during these few minutes of resting, his assistant keeps a keen(er) eye out for anything that Wilkes might want to take a break from his break for. He explains he can afford a decent break when the sun or moon are in the ‘right’ position. ‘Right’ is when missing a few frames wouldn’t create a gap because light transitions throughout the day.
“I look at a single place in a grid and then I decide where day begins and night ends. My eye moves through the scene based on time. My focus changes based on where time is.”
One can truly understand his work only by experiencing its magic, so here goes:
This image is New York, living and breathing, awake at night and day. The buzz of the Holidays and the work-days fuse into one frame as Wilkes works his magic on us. They say beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and in this case no matter who the beholder is, the eyes are still Wilkes’. His locations change but his magic never does.
Image Courtesy: Bored Panda
Image Courtesy: National Geographic
“There’s such a beautiful message in this photograph. The animals essentially were starved for water, and they all shared. I watched them for 26 hours [as they] literally all [took] turns drinking, bathing in this single resource. And they never so much as even grunted at each other. You realize the animals really get it. And we have really yet to understand the idea of water [as] a shared resource.”
When asked what it is that becomes his driving force, enabling him to keep up his vigorous process, he says:
“I am a collector. When you are a collector and you are missing that one piece of that collection, you will go through unbelievable lengths. I will wait. I will do whatever it takes. I love collecting moments of magic. That’s what I do.”
Feature Image Courtesy: Bored Pand