|Over California 1954|
|Work Creates a Fantasy in the Far East September 1960|
|The Houston Complex, 1958|
|Voltage Valley, 1956|
|From Baton Rouge to the Gulf, 1961|
|Urban Sprawl, 1958|
|Alchemy in a Wasteland, 1964|
William Garnett (1916-2006) bought his first plane in 1946 and developed techniques of operating the manual controls while taking a photograph through a hole in the fuselage.
His early career, driven by the need to earn, was in portraiture and advertising then crime photography for the Pasdena Police. During the War he operated a movie camera in the Army Signal Corp. Riding home on a packed plane after the War was over, he sat in the navigator's seat, undergoing an epiphony that was to set directions for the rest of his life. It is fair to say that his early education at Los Angeles Art Centre School had refined in him a certain visual sensitivity.
His landscape imagery of America, its scale and abstract patterning, unsuspected texture and colour was a factor that gave FORTUNE pre-eminence in documenting the effects of human economic activity on the Land. Garnett also contributed to the Family of Man exhibition organised by his friend Edward Weston.
His first portfolio for FORTUNE was 'Over California' in 1954 with a text by Walker Evans who perhaps also laid out the feature. For the purposes of his FORTUNE work, it is significant to note that he would develop a system of using two 35mm cameras on location, the one loaded with colour film, the other with black and white film, giving his art director a richer set of options on layout.
Through work for the Sierra Club he showed how beautiful was America when seen from above. After 1968 he was head of the design department at UC Berkeley.
It always astonishes me that Garnett's work is not better known and celebrated, being a perfect fusion of technique and aesthetic judgment. He is peerless. See William Garnett, Aerial Photographer published in 1984