However, this year we’ve had a number of calls at the office from the ‘31’ country code. The dialer was a Mr Gerard Boymans who has an unlikely link to Jersey. Gerard is a photographer who splits his dedication between specialisms in photography of dance and military aircraft. I know, it sounds odd at first but when you consider both as rapid moving targets the link becomes clearer. Gerard visits Jersey each year to photograph the Jersey Air Show and last year went beyond the hardware. Combining his two loves Gerard took this great shot of our local dancer Grace Hoy. Working with talented dancers is a challenging part of Gerard’s photography. His dream is to publish an art calendar of his shots.
Gerard regularly shoots ballerinas of the Dutch National Ballet and dancers of top contemporary dance companies such as Introdans and Scapino Ballet, shown here painted by body artists Yvonne Zonnenberg and Gareth Hughes. One of Gerard’s favourite images was taken during sundown with the winners of the Dutch edition of So You Think You Can Dance in 2011. The dynamic pose captured features Ballerina Nina Plantefève and Juvat Westendorp. Gerard tell us that one of the ingredients to create an amazing image are unique locations, such as Royaldelft with dancer Alena Krivileva and at the castle Ammersoyen with dancer Kabba Jallow painted in the striking body paint work of YC-Art.
Whilst we’re sure the dancers present memorable moments, Gerard’s most notable photographic memory was one of flying with the Royal Navy no less in 801 Naval Air Squadron. The project was to photograph the last days of the fabled Harrier jump jet. Gerard tells us ‘Yeovilton’s mission plan board looked promising with a 2 vs 2 DACT mission of Sea Harriers and a departure of 2 Royal Navy Hawks of the training unit. My pilot was the very experienced pilot John Beattie, who is the Royal Navy Historic Flight manager’. Gerard’s shot captured a ‘4-ship’ of Sea Harriers during sundown, presenting an amazing photographic opportunity seldom to be repeated as striking sunbeams touched the wings of the jets. A photographer’s dream became reality but Gerard’s pilot had a different vision; ‘John brought his jet in a left hand circle, straight behind the ‘box’ formation, framing the ‘box’ formation of ‘Shars’ straight through the full moon. The accelerating 4-ship vanished in the silhouette of the moon starting their initial mission, a 2 vs 2 fight in the Bristol skies’ Gerard explained.
To become a good aerial photographer is fraught with safety regulations and a great deal of necessary training. Gerard stresses that forward planning is essential, stating ‘It is not going to happen when you don’t tell the involved pilots what sort of photo you want’. Anyone that’s watched clips on YouTube where people take a ride in a fighter jet, you’ll appreciate that learning to cope with G-forces is also essential. Taking Gs and taking shots, Gerard describes his time flying with John Beattie as ‘an honour and a privilege, especially when the photographic challenge concerns the special Sea Harrier’.
For 30 years Gerard has been travelling the world to see aircraft and air shows. His passion to photograph aircraft has fulfilled his ultimate desire to fly in military jets, as a photographer. Taking the back seat in an F-4 Phantom, A-4 Skyhawk, Saab Lansen and Royal Navy Hawks has resulted in 7 cover photos in internationally known aviation magazines. During that time Gerard has visited the Jersey International Air Display several times. During this time he met Mike Higgins, the Air Display organiser, in addition to Robert Gaines-Cooper, one of the JIAD sponsors. It’s great to hear approval from an experienced photographer for Jersey’s show; ‘It’s a great show with lots of rare and interesting planes and it’s doing a great job for a small island’.
The photos here are a few of the many exciting encounters Gerard has had involving incredible flying machines and our Jersey coastline. Several are photographed from the T-28 Fennec with the experienced pilot Martin Willing, whose classic plane is ‘a superb photography platform and is capable of keeping up with jets’. If you have an interest in photography or not, the images Gerard captures capture the imagination.
The Jersey International Air Display on Thursday 12th September 2013, including the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and famous Red Arrows display team. Pick up a copy of the programme to see some more of Gerard’s great work.