Aerial Photos Capture the Damage Left in the Wake of Colorado’s Fires and Floods


Over the course of 2013, the beautiful state of Colorado has been ravaged by many fires and, most recently, devastating flooding as well. When it comes to capturing this kind of mass-scale destruction in photographs, the best option is to take to the skies, which is exactly what aerial photographer and Colorado resident John Wark has been doing.

As wildfires and flooding took their turns on the Colorado landscape, Wark captured it all from his Husky A1, compiling all of the photos into two series titled Colorado Flood of 2013 and Colorado Wildfires.


There’s not many people who consider themselves strictly aerial photographers, but given Wark’s parentage it’s not a surprise — after all, it’s in his blood. His father, Jim Wark, made a name for himself as an aerial photographer capturing beautiful vistas across all 50 states. Some of his images even ended up on US postage stamps.

John began his photographic career on the ground as a commercial photographer, explaining to Wired that he didn’t get into flying until 20 years into his career — and even then, when he started he did it for fun, not photography.

Now spends much of his time in the air alternating between camera and control stick, and it was from there that he captured what he hopes are both artistic and documentary-style photographs of what has been going on in Colorado this year.

“I try to make everything visually artistic, not just a documentation of disasters,” he tells Wired. “If you want them to be widely appreciated, you have to compose them.”

Here’s a look at some of his compositions:














Fortunately for Wark, he can be out of his house and in the air in a total of about 20 minutes. He enjoys a kind of freedom and access that not many journalists get, and is often the first to photograph a scene from the air while news agencies are still scrambling to get airborne.

To see more of Wark’s aerial photography — be it more disaster photos or gorgeous aerial views of pristine Colorado landscape — head over to his website by clicking here.

(via Wired)

Image credits: Photographs by John Wark and used with permission.

  • Drake

    Let me start by saying that these are amazing photographs that people should see. People need to see the devastation that was caused by these natural disasters. However, I do not appreciate the advertisement you have included for the photographer. The written paragraphs, whether inspired by you or the photographer, make it seem like he is trying to profit from these photographs. He is using other peoples suffering for his own profits and that frankly pisses me off. Yes, I am personally invested in this as you have probably guessed. I live in Colorado Springs and the Waldo Canyon fire got within a quarter mile of my house. I was not close to the Black Forest fire, but knew many people who were. I also knew firefighters who were on the lines in both fires. For goodness sakes, hundreds and hundreds of people lost everything they had in these fires. Four people even lost their lives between the two fires. In the flooding, my in laws were stranded in Big Thompson Canyon for 2 days without any contact with the outside world. We had no idea if they were safe or not. By God’s grace, they and their house are safe, but there were hundreds more who lost everything in the floods and there were even more lives lost in the floods than the fires. Hopefully knowing the situation, you can see the frustration I have with someone trying to profit off of these photos. I get that he is running a business and needs to make money, but simply putting his name with a link to the website would have sufficed. The extra advertising darn sure makes it seem like his is trying to profit off of other people’s suffering.

  • Carlee Keppler-Carson

    I will respectfully disagree with the assessment that the photographer’s comments or the link to his website is in an attempt to make a buck off of these disasters. Unlike many of the artists in the area who are in fact profiting (along with shady contractors) from their work in the aftermath of these events, cashing in on disaster porn. Photographers whose images are documentary or journalistic in nature are shooting not only for themselves in that moment, but for the news outlets. If it wasn’t for his unique perspective we would not have these or many other incredible images over the decades. I know that the ‘income’ in selling to outlets is extremely minimal and in some instances there is the incentive to get the image out as quickly as possible as a public service. With the advent of cell phones and cameras we are just beginning to see in far more depth what it is like on the front lines, both in battlefield situations and in natural disasters, where in the past the reliance was on the happenstance or chance of a photographer being on the scene. As a photographer with all the necessary credentials In the fire events in Colorado the last several years, I was greatly conflicted as to what I wanted to see and/or do regarding my photos, and none had anything to do with making a profit, as I said above unlike several painters in the area. But with Wark’s photos I was not only astounded by the surreal feeling of the area from his perspective, but was also able to determine that the home my children grew up in was destroyed, both educational.