The Sky Calls To Us, Photographs of The John F. Kennedy Space Center


This post begins a log book of stories about the photographs that make up the folio, The Sky Calls To Us.

“We have to go to space!” My guide looked at me intently as he said this and then up into the bright afternoon sky. We were standing on the roof of one of the largest buildings on the planet – the Vehicle Assembly Building at the John F. Kennedy Space Center. Below us, stretched the space center, dedicated to the preservation of humanity’s future through space travel. It is a fascinating place where layers of the past, present and future, as well as the earthly and un-earthly intermingle - in the infrastructure, machines, equipment, memorials, landscape and minds of those who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of space travel.

I grew up in the expansive glow of the space program and Kennedy Space Center, in Sarasota, Florida. Launch days were always an occasion to run into the yard or climb on the roof to look upward for rocket trails. My father – and some of our neighbors - worked for a company that produced telemetry and other equipment for the space program. My father's cousin, Jay Barbree, a journalist for NBC has, to this day, covered every human occupied launch from the space center. In 2015, out of purely personal wonder, I contacted Jay, who I had never met in person, and went for a visit. Jay and Hugh Harris, the voice of NASA during the Space Shuttle Program, offered a tour of Kennedy Space Center. This tour led to an opportunity to photograph the space center over the course of two months at time when it was going through a transformation in preparation for the next big mission – Deep Space, the Moon, Mars and beyond.

“The Sky Calls To Us” is a folio of 46 Black & White photographs of Kennedy Space Center, created between September 11 and October 31, 2015.  As a landscape and documentary photographer, trained in classical Black & White photography, I photographed the light and shadow at play on the beams of the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building – the VAB. The series begins with a low key photograph of the Transfer Aisle of the VAB. I saw the VAB and its massive 500 foot doorways as humanity’s gateway to space. I created this photograph to reflect that thought and feeling – with the lights shining out of the darkness like stars from space. The other photographs in the series focus on documenting the space center in that moment in time and the intermingling of the decades, the missions, earth and space that I experienced there.

The photographs were digitally captured and processed, and then rendered as archival pigment prints. The title of the folio is inspired by the words of Carl Sagan that are posted on a building at the space center’s visitor complex – “The Sky Calls To Us.”



Memphis Barbree