Aerial Delta

Aerial Delta

Viewed from the ground, the Mississippi Delta is striking for its flatness. The fertile soil produces stunning crops organized much like the perspective drawings I practiced as a beginning artist, with lines receding to a vanishing point. That is the Delta's iconic landscape — a tree line in the background with rows of crops fading into it.

My aerial photography project goes beyond the classic Delta image.

 

My love for the aerial perspective started because of a newspaper story I wrote and photographed about mosquito abatement spraying in Cleveland, Mississippi. The pilot offered me a seat in his plane, so I eagerly went up to see how it was done. From above, the Delta became so much more complex — those flat rows of trees became thick, curving tree lines along the edges of bogues and creeks.

 
 
 
 
  

From above the Delta became so much more complex — those flat rows of trees became thick, curving tree lines along the edges of bogues and creeks.

 

My aim with this ongoing project is to show that the region's landscape is neither a simply natural landscape nor man-made — it is both at once. It has been cleared, leveled, and planted, a fact that is legible in those uniform lines of crops. From above you see the curves in those rows dictated by the subtlest slopes in the land. On the highway, you might believe that the old river swamps are all but eradicated, but from the sky you see how much water still stands. We can live on this land, we change it and we shape it — but the land itself, and its own wildness, still persists.

 
 

We can live on this land, we change it and we shape it — but the land itself, and its own wildness, still persists.

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Rory Doyle

Rory Doyle

Rory Doyle (USA, 1983) is a working photographer based in Cleveland, Mississippi — the heart of the Mississippi Delta. Doyle’s editorial work highlights populations in the region that are often unnoticed or underserved. Recent projects include documentation of African-American Delta cowboys, and the growing Latino population in an area most known for its black and white history.

Full-time, he is a university photographer, providing marketing imagery for Delta State University. Additionally, he works for a number of editorial and commercial clients. Doyle’s publication list includes The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, ESPN’s The Undefeated, Bitter Southerner, Getty Images, Vox Media and Financial Times.