Eastern Shore native Gordon Campbell is an aerial photographer who captures breathtaking images of the land and seascapes of the East Coast.
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- I love a soft light,
I love when there's a little texture in the sky.
I fly typically at about 40 miles per hour
when I'm out photographing.
Very low noise profile,
so when I'm flying down low
along the marsh grasses and things like that,
you're really not bothering anything.
Even birds just sit there and look at me.
Most of the time I probably fly,
I don't get any photos worth printing,
but who cares?
I'll get the next image the next day.
Every day I get to fly is a great day.
So I started in high school,
became fascinated by developing the negatives,
printing in a darkroom, things like that.
But to do that, you had to take photos,
so I did a bit of both.
And I took photographs all throughout high school,
and then college as well,
and then after college,
it just snowballed into one thing after the next.
But I did not start flying until after college,
and when I was working just outside of Manhattan
in New York City area,
flying was a weekend escape for me,
allowed me to jump in a plane
after a week of working and go fly places.
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I try to find those areas
that are unknown to other people,
and I sorta like the uniqueness of the Eastern Shore.
We're surrounded by water,
it's rural, and there was this airfield for sale,
used to be called Kellam Field Airport,
just a fantastic place, 150 acres total property size.
Late 2002, I came down here,
I looked at the property,
I had an offer in on it the next day.
Fast forward a couple years, in 2005,
we decided to just make the transition
and move on down here.
There's just something to fall in love with
for everybody on the Eastern Shore.
I became fascinated with these Barrier Islands
that line the Virginia Coastline.
They are all preserved
and none of them have been built on
and they are just left to nature.
And I started photographing them back in 2006.
I thought it was just amazing,
and I wanted to document
every square inch of these islands.
I can fly over any island
and tell you exactly which island that is
just by its shape, its form, how it looks,
and so they all have a unique nature to them.
Sure enough, I saw these photographs,
I said, wow, these are beautiful.
And as I kept doing it,
I had a great retail space
down in Cape Charles that I was renovating.
I said this would really make a great gallery.
And I said I think my aerial photography
might be good enough,
but I'll make a beautiful gallery.
And if people wanna come in
and look at my aerial photographs,
then so be it.
If they wanna buy something,
then that's even better.
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A year prior to that,
I bought the aircraft that I'm still flying,
which is called a Dragonfly.
It's designed as the perfect aerial photography platform,
very maneuverable, very efficient aircraft.
And that's when everything came together,
the building, the gallery, the aircraft,
the camera equipment,
and I was able to present something to the customer
right out of the gallery
that's ready to put right up on your wall.
I literally just took a gamble.
- When we went down to the gallery
and saw his incredible photographs,
we knew that his images
would be such an enhancement
to the Barrier Island history
and the stories that we try to tell here.
- [Gordon] The Barrier Islands Center Museum
is a fantastic supporter of mine,
and they were the first outfit
that did a big installation of my imagery
to show people this is what the Barrier Islands
look like right now.
- [Sally] We use Gordon's imagery to educate and inspire.
- I've covered from New England down to Georgia
in this small plane here.
Barrier islands that are built up
just don't have the same charm,
and they're just not photogenic
the way these Barrier Islands are.
It's just wonderful that they're protected.
They're always evolving, always migrating,
and then there's always some erosion as well.
And so photographing them
is a new experience every year.
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Not everybody's in love with their job,
but fortunately I found something
that I'm in love with doing,
and people have embraced it
and people enjoy coming in my gallery.
It's purely 100% passion,
and I think in most careers,
you have to have some passion in what you're doing,
or you're not gonna be successful.