Bryan Steiff is a Santa Fe, New Mexico based photographer. He completed his BFA in photography at the Ohio State University and an MFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago. He has served as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Photography at Columbia College Chicago and was an artist-in-residence at the University of Chicago Laboratory School. His work has been collected, published and exhibited throughout the United States.
Flying into Kastrup airport in Copenhagen was the first time wind turbines caught my eye. From the air they looked like tiny white mobiles spinning in the dark waters of the Baltic Sea. That moment planted a seed in my mind, and when I returned to the U.S., I began to think about photographing them.
Since the late 1970’s, the genre of landscape photography has focused primarily on mankind’s effect on the planet, almost exclusively through a negative lens. I liked the idea of making images of our interventions on the landscape in positive ways. The production of wind energy was a perfect fit.
I began the project in 2011. I have since driven 15,000 miles in the United States and returned to Scandinavia to take photographs. I have photographed on the side of the road, on the side of a mountain in 70 mph winds and in a tiny boat on the Baltic Sea during a storm. This project has brought me to places I would have never seen otherwise. I hope to return to Europe this year to photograph in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
I have learned so much along the way. I can now often recognize a turbine manufacturer from the shape of the nacelle and spot differences in turbine technology. I’ve heard people speak of the powerful impact wind energy can have on local communities, and seen that most Europeans accept turbines as an integrated part of their landscape, a forgone conclusion of climate change. In America, I’ve recognized the issue can be more complex.
I think wind turbines exhibit the power of the human imagination. They are an elegant, ever-evolving mechanical means for creating sustainable energy from natural resources, simple in conception but very complex in function. They are also a tangible means of investing in our economy and our communities.
To view more of Bryan’s work, visit http://www.theartnerd.com/.