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Inside the World’s Most Opulent Private Jets

For over 30 years, aviation photographer Nick Gleis has shot aircraft for the biggest aviation companies and the wealthiest of private clients. He is as likely to receive assignments from presidents, dictators or royalty as he is from Gulfstream, Boeing or Lear. Gleis’ photographs of large private jets are only one subset of his titanium portfolio, but they are by far the most intriguing. They are views into the expensive tastes of heads of state from around the world.

His striking series has been spreading from blog to blog recently, bringing disbelief to many viewers who would otherwise never get a window into this particular world of excess.

“My catch phrase is Capturing Aircraft Ambiance,” says Gleis. “Every photograph taken aboard an aircraft is an attempt to draw the viewer into the world that I am surrounded by when I take the photograph; a communication of the feeling that world gives me.”

Gleis has photographed over 800 private aircraft – ranging from the Lear 20 series to Boeing 747-400s. To date, he has photographed over 200 Gulfstream aircraft alone. Clients have included heads of state and royalty from Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, China the United Arab Emirates. He closely protects client confidentiality, which is not an easy job when one routinely manages, tracks and delivers thousands of security-sensitive images.

Strictly a commercial photographer, Gleis recently dipped his toes into fine art waters with an unexpected invitation from Magnum photographer Martin Parr to exhibit at The Brighton Photography Biennial, or BPB. “Because of the nature of my work, which is about 90 percent corporate aviation, I do not generally participate in festivals or exhibits,” says Gleis.

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