THE ARCHIVES: Tomas Van Houtryve
Andrea Blanch: How did you come to the idea of using the drone as a photographic tool?
Tomas Van Houtryve: I was thinking of how I could use photography to talk about the drone war. It seemed like a significant development in warfare, but there weren’t any pictures associated with it. I had a National Geographic assignment where I had to photograph a mine. Nat Geo wanted an aerial photo and the altitude was too high to use a helicopter so they sent down an engineer from Nat Geo that had a drone. That’s where the two ideas crossed in my head.
AB: How did you choose which sites to shoot?
TVH: I did research looking through human rights reports. Some of the strikes are repetitive, but some strikes are much more telling and have personal details that humanize it. Residential homes, religious schools, wedding convoy or a funeral being hit bugged me. There have been hundreds of these strikes and I picked out ones that have a human hook to them. I took my drone to the United States and looked for those kinds of situations to fly over and take pictures. If I saw a strike report about a wedding in Pakistan then I’d go look for a wedding in the United States and fly over it with my drone. The idea was to turn the mirror. The U.S. government is looking at Pakistan from a drone’s eye view. What would it be like if we were looked at from a drone’s eye view?
Read the full article from our past issue Controversy here
All Images © Tomas Van Houtryve, From the Series Blue Sky Days