Tomas van Houtryve


Blue Sky Days

In October 2012, a drone strike in northeast Pakistan killed a 67-year-old woman picking okra outside her house. At a briefing held the following year in Washington DC, the woman’s grandson, Zubair Rehman, 13, spoke to a group of five lawmakers.

“I no longer love blue skies,” said Zubair, who was injured by shrapnel in the attack. “In fact, I now prefer grey skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are grey.”

With my camera attached to a small drone, I travelled across America to photograph the very sorts of gatherings that have become habitual targets for foreign air strikes—weddings, funerals, groups of people praying or exercising. I also flew my camera over settings in which drones are used to less lethal effect, such as prisons, oil fields, and the US -Mexico border. The images captured from the drone’s perspective engage with the changing nature of surveillance, personal privacy, and war.