Aerial Airports, by Jeffrey Milstein

At 69, Jeffrey Milstein is now firmly engaged in his third career.

He’s worked as an architect.  He owned a graphic design firm, which he sold in 2000

Now he’s taken up fine art and editorial photography.

From a single-engine Cessna 182, flown by a friend.

“At first we were going between 120 and 125 mph,” he says.  “Then we figured out that if we slowed down a little it would work better.  Now we’re at 115 mph.”

He’s a pilot himself, one who learned to fly as a teenager, got his license on his 17th birthday, and hung out at the end of the LAX runway taking photos as aircraft landed and took off.

These days, the author of The Jet as Art shoots overhead photographs of the complex ballet of airports, high above the aircraft and all the support systems serving them.  There’s a certain balance to it all, he says.

“I think it’s my love of airplanes and flying over things and looking down at how things grow – the planes taxiing and taking off, the cars and trams, all with different markings, and the communication of how it all goes together,” he says. “There are all these different systems working at different levels.”

He started last summer on his current project, for an exhibition of 12 aerial images of JFK, LaGuardia and Teterboro Airports, to be displayed at BAU-XI PHOTO Gallery in Toronto.  They’re large-scale images, some 70 inches wide.

“I’m a visual artist, and I like to see things from graphic quality point of view,” he says. “As an architect, they look very symmetrical to me, like a plan view of aircraft.  I’m recording something that you don’t normally see.”

Indeed.  Up until recently, the technology didn’t exist for this kind of photography. Milstein uses a Phase One camera linked to an extremely sharp 4 x 5 format for daytime shots, then switches to a Leica for twilight, and a Canon 5G after dark. His biggest challenge is shooting photos with turbulence from an open window in an aircraft moving fairly quickly.  “It’s a matter of how to get super sharp pictures, with vibration and everything that comes with it,” he says.

Still, he manages to make it work.

Aerial Airports opens on Saturday, July 13, from 2 to 4 PM.

For more information, go to

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