LAX Wow: Local Photographer's Snapshot Goes Viral

Mike Kelley captured planes -- many, many planes -- and made photo magic in "Wake Turbulence."

By Alysia Gray Painter
|  Thursday, Apr 3, 2014  |  Updated 2:42 PM PDT
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Mike Kelley

"On an unusually clear morning a few days ago" local photographer Mike Kelley headed to LAX with his camera. The result? Multi-plane magic and viral fan love.

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If you've been to or by an airport in your life -- so we'll assume that's probably a "yes" -- you've likely thrilled to a plane taking off, the swell of the big sound, the majesty of flight and motion.

But how do you put that airborne enchantment into words, or, even harder, a single visual moment?

Los Angeles photographer Mike Kelley found the perfect way, along with little Photoshop support, and the result? One very viral snapshot.

"On an unusually clear morning a few days ago, I rushed over to LAX and set up my tripod, photographing every plane from the same location it took off." Mr. Kelley further reports that "this ended up making about 400 images throughout the day and gave me one hell of a sunburn!" 

Creating great art is never without its costs, of course, and sunburns count.

He worked late into the night, composing the final image, which includes 75 shots. And then? And then, the photo, like so many planes in the air, took off with a zoom. LAX is currently using it as its Facebook cover photo, and Discover Los Angeles -- the city's visitor-oriented arm -- is sending it out to its fans.

The photographer pondered the big response. "I"m not 100% sure why the photo has gotten the reaction that it has -- I think there's a lot of international flair in it, which is something people can really identify with, and I also think that it shows something which most people don't think twice about since, let's be honest, flying has become rather mundane lately."

That something he references is flight being captured in "a more exciting and colorful way. It's like 'wow! all that happens at one airport?"

To see more of the local photographers "Beautiful Images for Amazing Spaces" -- and they indeed are -- check out his main site or his print sale gallery.

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