Dietmar Eckell is a photographer with the soul of an archaeologist, forever fascinated with the tension between long-forgotten man-made ruins and the natural landscape that eventually envelops them. Happy End is his latest series to explore this idea, documenting plane crashes—from the shores of Canadian lakes to the sands of the West Sahara—where everyone aboard miraculously survived. Now, the wrecks remain exactly as they landed, slowly becoming part of the remote scenes.
The subject matter is the stuff of nightmares; it’s impossible to look at the images without white knuckles. Without context, they’re devastating. Finding out there were no fatalities is an amazing, surreal reveal, and suddenly the backstories become as compelling as the pictures themselves. Eckell researched the project for almost three years, tracking down locations via Google Earth and online archives, then following up with locals to piece together more particulars.
He’s currently funding a hardcover Happy End book via Indiegogo, with his photographs accompanied by harrowing-yet-uplifting tales from those who lived to tell the tale. He’s also created an extensive making-of journal with behind-the-scenes details from his own journey to complete the set (access is available for a mere $9 contribution!).
It’s well, well worth a look through Eckell’s portfolio, loosely themed around the concept of Restwert ("residual value" in German), which chronicles abandoned places of worship, desolate fun fairs and waterslides, derelict hotels, and more.