Simon Nathan and Lloyd Homer’s professional relationship and friendship spans over 50 years. Homer’s professional career as the “disaster man” began the first time he went out on his own to photograph the Inangahua earthquake in 1968. The following year Homer covered the Ngauruhoe eruption beginning a photographic record of eruptions across his career.
Homers work is a collision of science and art with the added element of danger. Homer was taking his photos when clambering in to a helicopter and using film in a photographic camera was the only option. This wouldn’t happen today with the use of digital photography and drones. Homer was in the sky, often in the face of danger as a skilled and accurate photographer.
Nathan was prompted to publish Flying High The Photography of Lloyd Homer as he saw Homer took stunning photographs across his varied career, Nathan wanted to celebrate this. Homer was often one of the first of the scene and was a pioneer of aerial photography in New Zealand developing an archive of New Zealand geological and landscape features.
Although Homer was fairly cautious and flew only with a select number of pilots, he did escape a number of crashes in both small planes and helicopters which helped earn him the nickname “disaster man”.
Homers photographs are owned by GNS who very generously worked with Nathan allowing him access to the photographs for both an exhibition and the book Flying High. While unusually due to gallery availability, the exhibition was prior to the book launch, Nathan is excited to give the photos a second lease of life.
Many of the photos in the book haven’t been reproduced by anyone else. “The photographer needs to be there where the lighting and time is right and that is one of the exciting things about the book.”
One particular image stays with Nathan from the book and he acknowledges it is not the most beautiful. The Pareora meat works in Oamaru is photographed with a huge red plume going out to sea. Taken in colour you may think it was taken early in Homers career however the fact it was taken in 1996 is shocking.
Nathan worked for Te Ara 15 years ago with the knowledge that GNS had a collection of amazing photographs from Homer. Homer had photographed many of the original landing spots of the Maori and as a result of Nathan’s negotiations Te Ara has used over 300 of Homer’s photographs.
Flying High: The Photography of Lloyd Homer. RRP $45. Geoscience Society of New Zealand