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The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

Air Line Pilot, April, 2017

Today I have some exciting news to share with you dating back almost a year ago!

Early March of last year, in partnership with the Air Line Pilots Association, I helped commemorate Captain John Prater's final commercial flight before retiring by photographing his arrival landing to Dulles from Paris.  Captain Prater began his aviation career in 1978, going on to be elected President of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) in 2006.

This was an event photoshoot I coordinated with Dulles Airport Operations to capture several key shots desired for the article being written in Air Line Pilot magazine about Captain Prater's retirement; OPS ensured I had speedy access to the airfield to capture the planned shots of the United 787 Dreamliner's landing on R/W 1C, ceremonial water arch in front of the historic Main Terminal Building, and subsequent ceremonial events in anticipation of capturing a cover image.  Unfortunately, even though it was a scene I've captured at previous photoshoots, I wasn't able to capture the image planned for the cover this time due to weather interference; since that was the case, and I never heard any other information after the photoshoot, I thought I'd missed the cover shot and my images would just be included in the article, and didn't think much more about it, moving on to new projects.

Flash forward to December, while assembling my annual "Best of" for 2017, I decided to check for a press release on ALPA's website after coming across my portraits of Captain Prater in the 787's cockpit.  I found the article which included some of my pictures, and on a whim decided to check if there was online access to the magazine so I could see how it looked in a print layout.  What I found caught me completely by surprise.

Air Line Pilot magazine's April, 2017 issue features my photograph of Captain John Prater landing his United 787 at Dulles.  I had my first-ever magazine cover and didn't even know about it until nine months later!

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When I found this, I reached out to my contacts at ALPA to see if I could get any paper copies of the magazine.  I was worried it would be impossible 9 months after publication, but sure enough, they sent me a whole stack of them a week later!

Air Line Pilot has a circulation size of 78,000; that is a lot of magazines and a lot of people who saw my photograph!  I couldn't be happier or more honored!  I say go grab a cup of coffee and enjoy some some aviation!  Thank you so much to my friends at ALPA, and at Dulles Airport Operations who helped make my first-ever cover image possible.

Warmer in the Winter: Winter of 2017

Christmas in St. Louis, 2017

As many of you know, much of my family lives in St. Louis, Missouri.  As always, I took along my camera, however given my still-recovering knee I brought it with no intentions of photographing anything in particular; my plan was to sit and let it heal, and that's largely what I did.  I did, however, shoot some photos as I saw them, so I'm including some highlights of my trip here.

Before I could leave town, however, I had to find someone to care for the bonsai Alyssa gave me.  I may have decorated it beforehand though...

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Roadtripping there led to I-70 to visit with Bernie and Natalie in Indianapolis while there was clear weather along the Northern route.  First though was a stop at a West Virginia rest area with an overlook of the carved-through mountain.  This mountain pass is usually completely coated in shimmering ice by December, so it was a new sight to see its bare rock in direct sunlight.

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Next stop was seeing Bernie and Natalie at a Steak N Shake not far from their home in Indianapolis.  Interestingly, we've done this enough times that some of the wait staff recognize us now, and gave us free coffee for the road.  Can you say *you're* a regular at a restaurant 600 miles away?

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Upon arrival in St. Louis I may have decorated my hotel room...

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I've developed somewhat of a tradition of taking my cousin Carrie's kids out each year to see the latest Star Wars.  This year, however, I had been doing a bit of punking and when they asked me when we were going to see The Last Jedi I told Ryan and Alex I'd already seen it a few days earlier (true).  "But we always go!"  Sarcastically feigning pain, "Ow, my knee *really* hurts...  I don't think I can see it..."

And then I started in on the mix of spoilers:  Han Solo dies!  Luke drinks green milk fresh from a teat... then he tickles Rey's hand with a leaf!  It's just like Battlestar Galactica except there's no whiteboard!  Kylo Ren kills Han Solo, and boy oh boy do I have some bad news for you about Carrie Fisher... BOOM!!!  *feigns gasping for air*

Obviously you wouldn't know what of that is true or false unless you've seen the movie; little did they know it's all true... but with a 2 ton asterisk on the end, and none of it is central to the plot.  Also little did they know I'd already bought the tickets.  So, Christmas morning came and I'd given them a Christmas card simply signed "Han Solo dies!!!" inside, with the tickets to Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi in 3D for the next day.  The reaction of them realizing what it was was pretty worth it.

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Fast forward a few days to my mom's birthday, and we're all sitting around my grandpa's kitchen table visiting with him.  He's 98, and last year I gave him prints of some aerial photos I've taken, and pictures of me taking some of them; he's always been intrigued by flight, and is always asking what kind of aviation stuff I'm taking pictures of, so it was a fitting gift - I think he lives vicariously through me a little since I've been on some flights he didn't even get to experience in the Army.  This year I accidentally left this year's new prints at the hotel on Christmas, so I instead gave him the prints a few days later; it was for the best - he was more awake and focused than on Christmas with all the tiring activity.

This part really made my day - this is my 98 year old grandfather reading an article on AirlineGeeks.com profiling me and my marketing photography work in the aviation industry.  Here is my only remaining grandparent soaking in every word of an article about me.  His only question was "what is a Plane Pull?"  I showed him pictures and explained the charity event.

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This was almost a two week trip, but it flew right by, and as you've seen I don't have too terribly many photos to share from it due to my own preference of rehabbing my knee (12-weeks post MPFL Reconstruction surgery as of that week), and extreme caution to avoid ice and any slippery footing; St. Louis always harsher, more annoying Winters than DC - almost every day it is in the teens or single digits, accompanied by freezing rain, snow, or sleet.  There were only ~2 days of the entire stay that didn't have some kind of Winter precipitation - not a welcome sight for post-op knee safety, even if at 12 weeks my gracilis tendon has *in theory* fused with my bones and become a new ligament.

That same Winter weather was tracking North, so the I-64 Southern route was the obvious choice to return to DC.  St. Louis has a lot of decay in certain areas; I find it beautiful, although those aren't areas I would recommend going on a touristy photo-walk unless you're an experienced urban explorer (I am not).  The highway out of town takes you straight past some of these spots, so I always love seeing the decaying abandoned industrial buildings leaving St. Louis and into Illinois.

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Later, in Kentucky, one of the rest areas just a few miles from the Woodford Reserve Distillery had a display of Kentucky Whiskey memorabilia and selections from local vineyards.  I'm much more of a scotch person, but I think I'd really enjoy visiting the Woodford Reserve Distillery.

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Finally, some sights heading into Louisville, Kentucky; it's always seemed like it would be a really cool city to explore and perhaps even live in, but I've never understood why a city most famous for its baseball bats only has a AAA team which feeds into an Ohio team.

I've seen a few sitting in parking lots, but I've mostly only seen these when I visit the Infiniti dealer for service; this is the first time I've spotted a CV37 generation Infiniti Q60 driving on the road.  I do kinda like it, but it still just seems like a mashup of BMW 4 Series / Mazda 6 / Honda Accord to me; in other words, as a whole, unoriginal.  There is also the glaring omission of a manual transmission option.  I'll spare you the full car review, but I have quite a few complaints about the interior as well.  That all said, it's still a really sharp looking car.

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Hands down my favorite sight along I-64 is this oil refinery; the steam is always distinctive and visible for miles, and between the steam clouds and thousands of sodium lamps, it's roadside industrial Christmas.  This is the first time I've ever seen them burning off excess gas; the industrial candle lit the lumbering overhead plumes even brighter, adding depth with its flicker.

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That night, while editing some photos, I again felt compelled to decorate my hotel room; these AA powered Christmas lights are the best $7 I spent all of 2017!  They served as the perfect nightlight while editing that evening (the room lamps were all just too bright), and the perfect warmup in my groggy, pre-coffee state the next morning.

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By morning the band of snow in the North had swirled down and reached an arm down to the I-64 corridor; the <1" of accumulation was welcome in comparison to the >36" the same storm had dropped in a matter of hours North in Pennsylvania overnight.

West Virginia's capital building has always drawn me to visit, but I still haven't had the chance.  It looks very beautiful, from the quick glimpses you spot it passing through Charleston.

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Best of 2017

Each year I publish a year-in-review which shows the highlights of my year in photography.  2017 is a year I am very happy to see end; it has been the most challenging personal year of my life, bringing bad news and personal injury which unquestionably held me and my photography back this year.

As some of you may know, I fell and tore a ligament in my knee in May, which culminated in surgical intervention to replace the ligament in October.  Luckily I have an excellent surgeon (he served as Surgical Team Chief for President George W. Bush while he was in office) and I am still reportedly progressing well through physical therapy.  I am doing well now, but being knocked off my feet for a month after the injury and for two months after surgery took a serious toll on my work and morale.  I am expected to make a full recovery and be back to normal mid 2018, but this injury with such a slow recovery time has been very disheartening, even with a cutting edge new surgical method employed which was less invasive and is allowing for a quicker recovery than previously able with this relatively new ligament reconstruction I've had to have.  This is why I haven't posted too many pictures this year; most of my work has been straightforward photoshoots with existing clients since I've had to be selective with what photoshoots I've taken on during my recoveries.   If my 2017 can teach you anything it is don't dislocate your bones and tear ligaments - 0/10, would not recommend.

This isn't to say 2017 was all bad; I did quite a bit of great photography before, and after (and during, for that matter) my various adventures in knee problems.  I spent about ¼ of the year recovering from knee injury and surgery, but the other ¾ of the year had quite a lot of photography.  2017 was a year about change, and that change began in January, even before the 20th, which began bringing even more change and seemed to set the tone for the rest of the year.  My knee didn't change until five months into the year, but every month held some kind of change; just two months after that quite possibly the biggest thing that has happened in my photographic career happened, pointing to the future from my past; 2018 is here, and I am eager to move forward to that future beginning now.

Washington Dulles International Airport Manager Christopher U. Browne addresses Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority guests as he "Departs the Pattern" and steps down as Airport Manager after 29 years with the Airports Authority.  Chris is now Deputy Director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Washington Dulles International Airport Manager Christopher U. Browne addresses Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority guests as he "Departs the Pattern" and steps down as Airport Manager after 29 years with the Airports Authority.  Chris is now Deputy Director of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

A protestor gives a white rose to an arriving international passenger.  White roses are traditionally known to represent purity, innocence, sympathy, and spirituality. Following President Trump’s executive order implementing a travel ban on seven countries, protests initiated at international airports across the United States where individuals affected by the rapidly enacted ban were detained. The Trump administration justified the executive order as part of the “extreme vetting” of immigrants promised during his campaign, while those opposed to the ban question the constitutionality, motives, and execution of the ban. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine (D) was on-site denouncing President Trump’s travel ban in a press conference.

A protestor gives a white rose to an arriving international passenger.  White roses are traditionally known to represent purity, innocence, sympathy, and spirituality.

Following President Trump’s executive order implementing a travel ban on seven countries, protests initiated at international airports across the United States where individuals affected by the rapidly enacted ban were detained. The Trump administration justified the executive order as part of the “extreme vetting” of immigrants promised during his campaign, while those opposed to the ban question the constitutionality, motives, and execution of the ban. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine (D) was on-site denouncing President Trump’s travel ban in a press conference.

Internationally arriving passengers exit the International Arrivals Building to a sea of cheering protestors welcoming their arrival after clearing customs. Following President Trump’s executive order implementing a travel ban on seven countries, protests initiated at international airports across the United States where individuals affected by the rapidly enacted ban were detained. The Trump administration justified the executive order as part of the “extreme vetting” of immigrants promised during his campaign, while those opposed to the ban question the constitutionality, motives, and execution of the ban. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine (D) was on-site denouncing President Trump’s travel ban in a press conference.

Internationally arriving passengers exit the International Arrivals Building to a sea of cheering protestors welcoming their arrival after clearing customs.

Following President Trump’s executive order implementing a travel ban on seven countries, protests initiated at international airports across the United States where individuals affected by the rapidly enacted ban were detained. The Trump administration justified the executive order as part of the “extreme vetting” of immigrants promised during his campaign, while those opposed to the ban question the constitutionality, motives, and execution of the ban. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine (D) was on-site denouncing President Trump’s travel ban in a press conference.

Tom Veirs, in his glassblowing studio, giving a demonstration on how patterns are made in extruded glass, such as wine glass stems. Tom retired in May, 2017.

Tom Veirs, in his glassblowing studio, giving a demonstration on how patterns are made in extruded glass, such as wine glass stems. Tom retired in May, 2017.

Captain John Prater with a ceremonial cigar in the cockpit of his United 787 Dreamliner upon landing his final commercial flight before retiring.

Captain John Prater with a ceremonial cigar in the cockpit of his United 787 Dreamliner upon landing his final commercial flight before retiring.

Adrianna McVay graduates with a Bachelors of Arts in Biology from George Mason University.

Adrianna McVay graduates with a Bachelors of Arts in Biology from George Mason University.

Jockies on the main straightaway approach the finish line at the Virginia Gold Cup.  2017 hosted one of the rainiest, muddiest Gold Cups of recent history.

Jockies on the main straightaway approach the finish line at the Virginia Gold Cup.  2017 hosted one of the rainiest, muddiest Gold Cups of recent history.

Myself wearing a knee immobilizer at a portrait photoshoot two days after my initial knee injury.  The next day I would meet my orthopedist and find out the extent of the damage. The doctor told me I was truly lucky that I'd only torn one ligament and had no other damage; the MRI showed no loose bodies, no damaged cartilage, and no torn menisci; all extremely common injuries with the type of fall and injury I experienced, but was able to avoid from sheer luck. While this picture may be a personal low point ironically placed in a "Best of" post, this was a life-altering event, and more than qualifies in this "Year in Review."

Myself wearing a knee immobilizer at a portrait photoshoot two days after my initial knee injury.  The next day I would meet my orthopedist and find out the extent of the damage.

The doctor told me I was truly lucky that I'd only torn one ligament and had no other damage; the MRI showed no loose bodies, no damaged cartilage, and no torn menisci; all extremely common injuries with the type of fall and injury I experienced, but was able to avoid from sheer luck.

While this picture may be a personal low point ironically placed in a "Best of" post, this was a life-altering event, and more than qualifies in this "Year in Review."

Michaelangelo Pistoletto's "Venus of the Rags" on display at the Smithsonian's Hirshorn Museum.

Michaelangelo Pistoletto's "Venus of the Rags" on display at the Smithsonian's Hirshorn Museum.

Succulents growing in a flowerpot in Washington, DC.

Succulents growing in a flowerpot in Washington, DC.

Bokeh of exhibit lighting inside the National Museum of the American Indian.

Bokeh of exhibit lighting inside the National Museum of the American Indian.

An Operations Manager listens to an airfield radio while walking between two Plane Mates at Washington Dulles International Airport.

An Operations Manager listens to an airfield radio while walking between two Plane Mates at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Terry McAuliffe, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, speaking at Air India's inaugural event at Washington Dulles International Airport; "We don't believe in walls; we believe in bridges."  The comment alluded to President Trump's recent efforts to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

Terry McAuliffe, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, speaking at Air India's inaugural event at Washington Dulles International Airport; "We don't believe in walls; we believe in bridges."  The comment alluded to President Trump's recent efforts to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

Air India's 777-200LR departing Washington Dulles International Airport for the first time.

Air India's 777-200LR departing Washington Dulles International Airport for the first time.

Polo players competing at the Great Meadow Polo Club.

Polo players competing at the Great Meadow Polo Club.

"A Planespotter’s Dream Gig: A Look into the Life of an Airport Photographer;" an article on AirlineGeeks.com profiling my work as an aviation marketing photographer.  Although my photography has been featured in many articles and publications, this marks the first time a publication has written an article specifically about me and my work.

"A Planespotter’s Dream Gig: A Look into the Life of an Airport Photographer;" an article on AirlineGeeks.com profiling my work as an aviation marketing photographer.  Although my photography has been featured in many articles and publications, this marks the first time a publication has written an article specifically about me and my work.

A nighttime aerial image of T. F. Green Airport in Rhode Island.

A nighttime aerial image of T. F. Green Airport in Rhode Island.

Grapes growing on 200 year old vine at Newport Vineyards, a winery in Newport, Rhode Island.

Grapes growing on 200 year old vine at Newport Vineyards, a winery in Newport, Rhode Island.

Fishing vessels docked at Galilee Salt Pond Harbor in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Fishing vessels docked at Galilee Salt Pond Harbor in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Alyssa McGuire posing with a moped on her birthday on Block Island, Rhode Island.

Alyssa McGuire posing with a moped on her birthday on Block Island, Rhode Island.

A blood red sky at sunset in Fairfax County, Virginia.

A blood red sky at sunset in Fairfax County, Virginia.

In Niotta, Tennassee a man uses a paper plate to safely view the projection of the 2017 solar eclipse after the solar filter for his telescope broke mere days before the eclipse.  Solar filters were in high demand, and became unavailable months prior to the day of the eclipse.  The ray of sunlight emitted from his telescope's eyepiece was hot on the skin when placed in the beam.

In Niotta, Tennassee a man uses a paper plate to safely view the projection of the 2017 solar eclipse after the solar filter for his telescope broke mere days before the eclipse.  Solar filters were in high demand, and became unavailable months prior to the day of the eclipse.  The ray of sunlight emitted from his telescope's eyepiece was hot on the skin when placed in the beam.

The sun half eclipsed by the moon as seen from Niotta, Tennessee.

The sun half eclipsed by the moon as seen from Niotta, Tennessee.

Totality of the 2017 solar eclipse as seen from Niotta, Tennessee.

Totality of the 2017 solar eclipse as seen from Niotta, Tennessee.

The Washington Redskins Burgundy & Gold Club restaurant and bar at Washington Dulles International Airport.

The Washington Redskins Burgundy & Gold Club restaurant and bar at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Portrait of Ryan Ewing, owner and founder of AirlineGeeks.com.

Portrait of Ryan Ewing, owner and founder of AirlineGeeks.com.

Ryan Ewing, owner and founder of AirlineGeeks.com, walks on the airfield at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Ryan Ewing, owner and founder of AirlineGeeks.com, walks on the airfield at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Local DC Brau and Atlas District Common beers on display for sale at Ronald Reagan National Airport.

Local DC Brau and Atlas District Common beers on display for sale at Ronald Reagan National Airport.

Portrait of Cyrina Yarbrough, Marketplace Development Marketing and Customer Service Manager at Ronald Reagan National Airport.

Portrait of Cyrina Yarbrough, Marketplace Development Marketing and Customer Service Manager at Ronald Reagan National Airport.

Orville, NASA's flying squirrel mascot, marshals in a Southwest Airlines 737 at Washington Dulles International Airport.

Orville, NASA's flying squirrel mascot, marshals in a Southwest Airlines 737 at Washington Dulles International Airport.

NASA's Orville and Santa Claus Visit the Dulles Funway

This past Wednesday, just a few days before taking off on his 'round the World trip to deliver toys to all girls and boys on his nice list, Santa and Mrs. Claus landed at the Dulles Funway to meet kids and wish them a Merry Christmas.

Santa's timing was perfect; Orville, NASA's flying squirrel mascot (named after Orville Wright), also dropped by to present Santa Claus with Quiet Super-Santa Transport (QueSST) technology which will enable him to circumnavigate the World faster and quieter than ever before, thanks to NASA Aeronautics.

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After the technology transfer, it was time to relax and have some fun; Santa and Orville spent some time playing with kids awaiting their flights at the Dulles Funway kids play area.

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Even flight crew stopped by to with Santa a safe Christmas flight and show off their holiday cheer!

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All that play wore Santa out, and he decided to get a massage at Be Relax in Dulles' Concourse B.  He is sure to now be loosened up and ready to fly tomorrow night!

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Meanwhile, Orville had decided to head outside and check out the aircraft; he is a flying squirrel after all!  A Southwest flight was just arriving and he helped marshal in the 737, and even  assisted ramp crew offload luggage!

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Before going back inside, Orville greeted passengers boarding the outbound flight, giving high-fives and taking selfies.

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As his day came to a close, Orville checked the flight status boards to see when he was scheduled to take off from Dulles; thankfully, Travelers Aid was there to help Orville find his way to the gate.

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...and of course on the way there Orville had to join in singing with the carolers!

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Black Friday: 25% Off Portraits and Engagement Sessions

The Black Friday Sale

25% Off Portrait and Engagement Sessions

This offer is not applicable for commercial work / commercial business clients, weddings, newborns, pets, or existing bookings.  Portrait sessions are booked per hour, and headshot / professional portrait sessions are priced by delivered volume.  Sessions must be booked for a date before March 1st, 2018.  Deposit is due at time of booking confirmation and is non-refundable.  Discounted rates are applicable to photography session fee only; discount does not apply to any other fees, including but not limited to permits, parking, travel, or print products.

Holiday portraits with deadlines (ex: Holiday Cards and prints), please say so upfront; space for these sessions is very limited, as deadlines must be given consideration.

Hurry; this deal ends 12:01AM Friday, December 1st, 2017 (or if no more openings are available; whichever comes first)!  Understand that holiday volume makes December slots sell out first; this posting will be updated if December sessions are no longer available for December holiday delivery.  I also reserve the right to decline an inquiry if I feel your needs don't match up with my photography.

Reserve Your Session Here

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