Why A Photographer Wants Us To Look At Texas From ‘A Mile Above’

“When you’re in a small plane and you’re only spending your time at about five or 6,000 feet, things are really pretty interesting.”

By Rhonda FanningOctober 15, 2018 11:58 am

Sam Houston once opined, “Texas is the finest portion of the globe that has ever blessed my vision”; many in the Lone Star State feel the same way. From the desert mountains in the west to the blackland prairies of central Texas to lush forests and the Coastal Bend area in the east, Texas is just about as diverse in terms of its ecosystems as it is in its people.

A new book by photographer Jay B. Sauceda offers a different perspective on all this: from thousands of feet above the earth. The recently released “A Mile Above” features photographs taken during an almost 4,000-mile circumnavigation of Texas. Sauceda was inspired to put together the book while learning to fly a plane, and he was actually piloting as he took photographs for the book.

“Once you kind of get a plane configured to fly in a direction or in a way, it stays that way, so it’s easier than you would think to take your hands off the wheel for a minute,” Sauceda says.

Jay B. Sauceda

Image from above the Texas Gulf Coast.

Those looking at the photographs might be surprised that Sauceda found beauty not just in the natural environment of Texas, but also in parts of its man-made landscape.

“When you really pull back and look at the way that we interact with the landscape of Texas, it really guides and shapes our lifestyles and you really get a sense for that at, you know, 5,000 feet, when you’re looking down and you see the way that a road kind of cuts between different mountains or these mesas out west and stuff,” Sauceda says. “And so, seeing a pool or seeing a series of baseball parks, where people spend their time in the evenings, is really abstract and beautiful.”

Sauceda says the Texas Panhandle was probably his favorite part of the flyover, but he says he also found beauty in the state’s diversity of terrain, overall.

“I mean, it really is incredible, flying at that height seeing how diverse the land is and how quickly it changes,” Sauceda says. “You know, I think that we have a sense for, or we think that the state is what it looks like where we live, and it is so different.”

Sauceda is also putting together an exhibit of his work at The Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Written by Laura Rice.