We are living within the midst of one of the strangest summers that I have been alive for without question. The past few months have been a time of laying low for safety and the good of everyone else, and as hard as it has been with having much less new work than normal, it has been nice to have the time to look back and reflect on the past few years and I am optimistic that we can reenergize and rebuild upon everything in the months coming up. As a metaphor for the times it’s going to feel like a construction project, and I hope we can built our world to be stronger and better than ever before.

A construction worker cutting a steel beam on the Longfellow Bridge.
An ironworker cutting an i-beam on the Longfellow Bridge as part of the reconstruction project.

Rare Air

Looking down on Boston’s Zakim Bridge from a few hundred feet above in a Bell JetRanger helicopter.

Flight and aviation will forever be something I love and admire and think about with awe and admiration. I’ve been lucky to fly the skies of Boston in a helicopter a few times and it’s really something special that goes beyond any word based descriptions of the feeling of zipping around within the perspective of the birds that fly above us. Everything looks a little different from above, and the rarity of the perspectives is a big part of what makes aerial photography so interesting and special in my mind.

Office Layers

The many levels of offices at Hancock Tower in Boston.

Boston’s Hancock Tower, or 200 Clarendon building is one of the great gems of the cities architecture. Built to fit on a unique lot within the Back Bay it’s a design that remains sleek and modern even though it’s not at all a new one. The skyscraper has a wonderful symmetry to it and it provides for unique angles all around the tower.

Winter Walk

A pedestrian walking along a snow covered path in Boston Common during a winter storm.

Winter in Boston is a love/hate relationship for most folks, but it’s a photogenic happening that I really enjoy. There are so many nuances to the weather when storms arise and different locations really shine at different times, but this little nook within Boston Common is surely one of the good spots.

Rooftop Kiss

Sometimes interesting and powerful moments happen simply by being in the right place at the right time, and this was one of those instances. The rooftops of Boston are typically quiet and somewhat secret places amongst the chaos of below, but on this summer afternoon a couple had found a great spot within the city for a warm embrace that sums up a lot of thoughts about the magical juxtapositions that cities often carry with them.

Start of 2017

Well 2016 is now officially in the books. It was quite a year, and i’d certainly say it was a busy one both in my own world and the whole world in general. We lost some great rock starts and viewed what will probably go down as the craziest election year that we will witness as a generation and society in general, but heres to hoping that the goodness of humanity continues moving in the right direction and that we stay productive and prosperous all around the world.

I’m not crazy about resolutions since the years find a way to all mesh together in the end, but the turn of the calendar makes for a great time to refresh a bit and find new energy and focus to build upon going forward.

I will be focusing the upcoming year on printed art, with both the creation of new work as well as sharing work from past years that deserves to be printed and placed where photographic artwork is needed.

Busy is a good thing, and the past few years have been a whirlwind of work and travel, but I hope to one day look back upon 2017 and see it as a year where many prints found a new home upon walls and places all around the nation. Cheers and lets together make it a great year ahead.

Spring evening in Boston, MA. (Michael J. Clarke)
Spring evening in Boston, MA. (Michael J. Clarke)

Moments of Beauty

Within most of my picture work I try to find beauty within either a moment or within a scene itself, and its often the best when the two concepts fuse together into one image. This was the 2013 Boston Red Sox World Series Parade. The picture itself is a mix of scale and perspective on the crowd below, the celebratory moment of the Boston style parade, and the beauty of autumn in New England. I’m always hoping for more of these moments to happen.

2013 Red Sox Championship parade on Tremont Street. (Michael J. Clarke)
2013 Red Sox Championship parade on Tremont Street. (Michael J. Clarke)

Aerial Sailing

The boats may be all tucked away for winter at this point, but thats what makes me miss summertime more than anything. One of the neat summer activities in Boston is the very accessible opportunity for sailing along the Charles River and taking in the sights and sounds of the city. As cool as it is to actually do the sailing, it’s also a staple of the city skyline and is a beautiful activity to be happening in any city.

Countless people take pictures of the boats all summer long, and they add a lot of visual activity and interest to pictures of the city, especially those from Cambridge looking over to the Back Bay skyline. The Cambridge view is a great one, but as often as I do those ground level views it feels a lot more special to make a different picture of the boats, and this one was a very different angle than the usual.

Aerial view of sailboats on Boston's Charles River. (Michael J. Clarke)
Aerial view of sailboats on Boston’s Charles River. (Michael J. Clarke)

These are the boats seen while looking down from an altitude of about 1000ft in a Bell Jetranger Helicopter, and its a whole different perspective of the afternoon sailing going on down below. Flying is one of my very favorite ways to make the usual look unusual, and with careful safety measures, timing, and flight planning helicopters can be one of the most useful and effective tools for both urban and landscape photography that we have available in the world.

I usually aim for two different picture types during flights, one being the glorious vista type of perspective that is simply impossible from ground or even building level perspectives, and another being the simplification of the landscape – which is the main goal when working a picture like this one.

A lot of things came together correctly in this image, including the subject matter and patterns below, the dramatic afternoon light, and the altitude and position of the helicopter to get in place for this view. I’ll be sharing more unique pictures and aerial views over the coming months, but it never hurts to look back at some summertime fun during the cold winter days ahead.

Downtown in the Cold

When I work making pictures of the Boston skyline, there are often two different thoughts I bring into visualizing and executing the work. One is to photograph the recognizable scenes that people know and relate two, and the second is to tackle uniqueness and making a picture that provokes consideration and thought.

To bring some unique artistry into my skyline photography, something I often do is isolate sections of the city while glowing with pristine light. This print of the downtown skyline seen from south of the city does that well, and is a view of the city that many people don’t often think of or recognize.

A cold weather view of the downtown Boston skyline. (Michael J. Clarke)
A cold weather view of the downtown Boston skyline. (Michael J. Clarke)

These are the skyscrapers of Downtown Boston and the Financial District on a cold and clear winter night. While Boston is often not recognized for its size in comparison with New York, the city does have quite a bit of vertical strength that can be seen and shown from the right views. In addition to being a different spot than most people view the skyline from, the crisp winter air and last bits of evening sunset that illuminate this frame provide a magical glow to the towers as they rest above the brownstones of the South End.

Sometimes within the realm of cityscape artwork its the unique and lesser known spots that can provoke the most thought and wonder when displaying an urban environment as a piece of artwork, and its for that reason that I work on all different view of the urban landscape throughout many different times of the year as well as weather conditions.

The Red Line Walk

Sometimes powerful pictures end up being the ones that we see every day but recognize in a new light. This simple image of commuters making their way to the platform at Charles/MGH is a good example of that, as its something that people are always doing that takes on an etherial feel when seen in the powerful backlight of a glowing afternoon.

MBTA Red Line commuters walking to the outbound platform of the Charles Street/MBTA station. (Michael J. Clarke)
MBTA Red Line commuters walking to the outbound platform of the Charles Street/MBTA station. (Michael J. Clarke)

When pondered about, our daily motions are one of that most powerful things that we can all relate to as humans. These actions and reactions, like the commute on the Red Line become such a usual happening within the daily grind that we often don’t think of them much, but when seen in the right light, they can be beautiful moments.