Having been interested in photography from a young age, today I'm a seasoned photographer, filmmaker, and instructor.
My career has afforded me the opportunity to see and do things that I am forever grateful for and that allowed me to grow professionally. My goal is to always bring the action to my audience and I put a lot of pressure on myself to do this to the best of my ability.
My photojournalism opportunities have allowed me to climb to the top of NASA’s launch pads at Kennedy Space Center and climb into the powered up Space shuttle Endeavour. I have photographed five Daytona 500 races, dozens of rocket launches and documented West Virginia’s Cass Scenic Railroad State Park for the past 10 years. I have had the opportunity to photograph the cities of Los Angeles and San Fransisco by helicopter and I am an experienced multi-rotor pilot and teacher.
I have always had an interest in spaceflight and I have been fortunate enough to photograph some of the biggest spaceflight events this decade. My travels have taken me from the Florida Space Coast to the shores of California at Vandenberg Air Force Base. I documented the end of the Space Shuttle Program as well as the space shuttle orbiters' shipments around the country to museums. Now I shift focus to the birth of a new manned American space program while I continue to shoot the launches of Delta, Atlas, and Falcon rockets.
How & Why I Use Triggertrap:
I have been using Triggertrap products since early 2013 to capture rocket launches from up close and from places where I cannot be present in person during launches. I needed a trigger that is reliable and gets the job done every time and my Triggertrap products have never let me down. I currently use four Triggertrap V1’s to trigger my Canon cameras via sound. When rockets that are 20+ stories tall leap off the pad I can count on my TTV1’s to capture the scene instantly, without delay. I experimented with many different versions of sound triggers from various manufacturers until I discovered Triggertrap which was still quite young at the time and I have used them to photograph over twenty launches since.
When I am not using my Triggertrap V1’s to photograph rocket launches, I also enjoy photographing the Milky Way and other celestial objects with my mobile dongle. The Triggertrap app allows me to create time-lapse images with ease.
TT: You get to shoot some exciting stuff! What do you look for to bring action into your photography
WS: Having an exciting subject to photograph helps, but the difficult part is making the subject come to life in a single frame. When photographing rocket launches they start to become repetitive over time, as they launch from a limited amount of launch pads. I am always on the lookout for new angles, which can start to be a challenge after time. Lighting, weather and many other variables make every launch a challenge though, but they can also provide incredible shots!
TT: What first got you into spaceflight photography and where do you get your inspiration from?
WS: I have always had a fascination with spaceflight since I was a child, I think most kids do. I was lucky to have been able to witness many space shuttle and rocket launches first hand during family vacations to Florida. As I grew older, and photography began to take over my life, I started to look into ways to get access to photograph the space program. It took some time, with many good friends gained along the way, but I eventually found myself at the launch pad setting up remote cameras before the penultimate space shuttle flight. Talk about a dream come true… and pressure! There are a few photographer’s I have taken inspiration from, such as NASA’s chief photographer Bill Ingalls, as well as launch photographer Ben Cooper, Gene Blevins and Bill Hartenstein. I’d like to think that I have developed my own style as well.
TT: We're sure this is going to be a tricky question as you've worked on some amazing projects, but do you have a favourite?
WS: It would easily be the final space shuttle mission, STS-135 Atlantis. I was able to follow, and document the mission from beginning to end. It was an incredible experience, and something that I will never forget. I know that I was very lucky to be in the position that I was in, and that I was documenting history, a thing that can never be taken for granted.
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