Resource May 6, 2015

Meet the Journalist: Tomas van Houtryve

Image by Tomas van Houtryve. United States, 2014.

A drone's-eye view of America reveals the changing nature of war, privacy, and government...

Media file: unnamed.jpg
Image by Tomas van Houtryve. United States, 2014.

Tomas van Houtryve discusses "Blue Sky Days," his reporting project on the use of drones, in a film created by MediaStorm. Van Houtryve received the Infinity Award for Photojournalism from the International Center of Photography on April 30, 2015—this film was shown at the award ceremony.

In October 2013, a boy who had lost his grandmother to a drone strike in Pakistan spoke to members of the U.S. Congress. He explained that he no longer liked blue skies, but preferred gray skies—drones don't fly when the sky is gray. This testimony became the catalyst for van Houtyre's project.

Van Houtryve set out to explore how technology can change the relationship of a child to the sky. Van Houtryve warns that photography can be used by governments for oppression: "The worse case scenario is that drones dominate us rather than our using them as a tool." He says,"Kill decisions are made on somebody's profile gleaned from video data and cell phone data and where they live."

In his work van Houtryve seeks to create "a permanent visual record of the dawn of the drone age, the period in American history when America started outsourcing their military to flying robots." "You can't tell me this is a precise, surgical way of waging war," he says.