In 1949s, Clifford Coffin took a photograph for Vogue. Four models sat on sweeping sand dunes, facing away from the camera, each wearing a brightly coloured swimming cap. It was to become an icon of fashion and is now the inspiration behind a new series from award-winning aerial photographer Brad Walls.
Walls first became interested in conceptual image-making when he noticed a lack of aerial techniques being used in the genre. “Conceptual photography is mostly shot on handheld cameras,” he explains. “I wanted to showcase the value of an alternate viewpoint to convey a meaningful story.” Instead, Walls uses drones to capture scenes from above.
Each frame in Detached, in Harmony is carefully arranged and meticulously choreographed. Models position themselves in straight and diagonal lines, casting precise shadows on the sand. The figures seem to be caught mid-movement: walking, diving, bending backwards. “The figures are purposefully static, to symbolise how we have been frozen in time over the past 18 months,” Walls explains.
The images contain echoes of a year spent in isolation. During the pandemic, Walls noticed how distant and repetitive life had become – feelings which are reflected through his use of symmetrical shapes and negative space. Lone characters wander the dunes. Groups are separated by equal distances. “We all belong to something that separates us,” says Walls. “It’s a sort of melancholic irony.” The artist plans to exhibit Detached, in Harmony in a 2022 solo exhibition.
All images courtesy Brad Walls, from the Detached, in Harmony series.