This article appears in VICE Magazine's 2019 Profiles Issue. This edition looks to the future by zeroing in on the underrecognized writers, scientists, musicians, critics, and more that will shape our world next year. They are "the Other 2020" to watch. Click HERE to subscribe to the print edition.
VICE: Tell us the story behind your cover image.
Reto Sterchi: It features Richard Browning, a British inventor and the founder of Gravity Industries, in his jet suit, known as Daedalus Mark 1. I visited him in the United Kingdom this past October and shot the photo at Hurst Castle. I was completely hit over the head by witnessing a human fly through the air. When in use, the suit is incredibly loud and the air pressure hits you in the chest, like what you feel at a concert if you stand next to a speaker. It’s something that truly takes you by surprise. Looking back on the experience, I regret that I never just watched a flight without looking through the lens of a camera. It feels like it never really happened outside of the frame.
Would you ever fly in his suit?
Hell yeah! I would love to. Interestingly, Richard says it’s easier to learn than skiing or ice-skating.
Where do you get your day-to-day inspiration?
I aim to be a Renaissance man and would like to say it comes from novels, nature, and the Met, but I learned about Richard through a freakin’ TMZ video while at the gym. So, I guess the answer to your question is unexpected places.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m working on a new long-term project about violence in America. And, completely unrelated to that, I’m sending out telepathic messages to all editors so someone commissions me to photograph Nicolas Cage or SpaceX, or both at the same time, which may create a black hole.
Reto Sterchi is a portrait and documentary photographer born and raised in Signau, Switzerland. His work has appeared in National Geographic, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and more.