"I knew I wanted to capture these two cities – one, a vibrant and pulsating Manhattan that we recognize so vividly, and its antonym – a life-less city turned pitch-black and ominous," writes photographer Iwan Baan about the Hurricane Sandy aftermath photo that everyone has been talking about. The almost unbelievable image appeared on the cover of the latest edition of New York Magazine with a small overlay reading "The City and the Storm" and captivated the nation with its unique vantage point of a half-dark city. As you can imagine, though, it was no easy feat to capture this once-in-a-lifetime (hopefully) shot. Read on to see what Mr. Baan wrote to us about what he had to go through to get this picture worth a million words.
Baan said that as soon as be began conceptualizing the shoot of the half-dark city, and knew that he would need a helicopter. “I began calling on all of the heli-pilots I could think of in the Manhattan area, but each of them were either without fuel, on recovery efforts, or without power themselves,” he wrote to us. “To my relief, after nearly exhausting all efforts, I managed to get a hold of a pilot who I had met just a week prior, and he said yes, he was able to fly.”
But in order to get to the helipad, he needed a car first and unfortunately, the rental company gave away the reservation he’d made in advance. A bit of finagling scored him a rental car all the way at JFK and after 4 hours of traffic, closed bridges and $2,000, he was sitting in the driver’s seat on his way to the heliport.
Despite freezing his lenses off on the hour-long helicopter ride over Manhattan, Baan was able to finally capture the photo that wowed us all when it appeared on the cover of New York Magazine this week. And afterwards, he was even able to analogize: “Illuminating the bottom left of the photograph is the glowing Goldman Sachs building. Just next is the construction site for the World Trade Centre, which is top-to-bottom, lit with power (despite the rest of lower Manhattan being completely powerless.) I think perhaps, this ‘division of power’ is an allegory for the country’s declining infrastructure, telling us also about who is truly prepared for when sobering events like Sandy’s strike.”
All photos: Iwan Baan