Back in June of 2016, exactly 3 years ago, I had the pleasure of working on an editorial feature for Houstonia Magazine that centered around NASA’s first 50% male and 50% female astronaut class. The astronaut classes prior had been largely a boys club and I was honored to create a body of work featuring a group of amazing female astronauts and their important work.
We spent several days observing, understanding and photographing these incredible astronauts as they trained for their upcoming missions. On the final day we were scheduled to shoot portraits of the crew inside Building 9 at NASA JSC, which is a very large hangar-type building that houses a lot of the large-scale training mockups. Since I knew we would be inside and out of the elements, my team prepped with the appropriate gear and came up with a game plan that would ultimately be thrown out the window upon arrival when we learned that we would be shooting outside in the Mars Rover lab which is essentially a huge pile of gravel near the back corner of the NASA JSC property. It was a typical sunny and hot June day with zero cloud cover so we were forced to pull an audible. We rallied the crew, the gear and the talent and were able to knock out a round of quick portraits of our talent in and around the Mars Rover. We were able to bring back images that we were proud of, even though our plans were completely switched up last minute. As a photographer as well as team leader, I understand that not many will be aware the challenges that were overcome on any given day, however I am proud of our team for thinking on the fly and making it happen despite the challenges.
Huge props to Art Director, Paul Naughton (now at Newsweek), for not only lending a helping hand on set that day, but for designing the initial Houstonia Magazine spread that appeared in the June 2016 issue, and huge props to retouching all-star, Pratik Naik of Solstice Retouch for making the resulting images sing. Writer and badass, Steven Devadanam, put the amazing words down and helped fight for this piece the whole way.
Here’s how the piece appeared in the June 2016 issue of Houstonia Magazine:
Check out the online feature here: https://www.houstoniamag.com/articles/2016/5/31/nasa-women-astronauts-mars-june-2016
Flash forward to January 2017, when I discovered a video of a panel of amazing folks including curators at the MOMA, National Geographic photo editors, and scientists all discussing my image. In the clip they discuss their reactions to the image in a way that was not only thought-provoking, but inspiring as well. Check that out below:
Flash forward to the present… I am proud and honored to announce that the image that we created on that day at NASA JSC, in the Mars Rover lab, is featured in the new book, Seeing Science, by Marvin Heiferman, along-side a transcript of that conversation I initially discovered on YouTube. The book also features an incredible foreword by famed NASA astronaut, Scott Kelly.
The book, which talks about how photography reveals our universe, was published by renowned photo book publisher, Aperture, in conjunction with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and can be purchased online via Amazon and directly through Aperture via the links below.
I am thrilled to be featured along-side a bevy of photographic pioneers and legends. We kick off the “Culture” section on page 78 so please check it out if you see the book out and about!
My first job was at NASA JSC and it’s where my mom worked for 30 years so needless to say, NASA JSC holds a special place in my heart and it was a complete honor to make these images and have them featured as they have.
PS: The image was also featured in a Florence and The Machine music video that focused on girls and STEM education! PPS: They let us drive the Mars Rover! PPPS: A alternate image of the Mars Rover alone is featured as an 11″ x 17″ fold out poster promo that we currently are mailing out, so if you are interested in a poster, please send us an email and get on our mailing list! firstname.lastname@example.org!
Additional images of the book:
BONUS: A couple of short BTS video of us working with the team during the shoot: