BY LAUREN BERGER | What started as a passion project on Instagram for Benjamin Grant garnered more than 460,000 followers. The 27-year-old Villager’s high-definition satellite photographs provide a new perspective on the human impact on landscapes around the world. Grant’s Instagram page, in turn, led to his new, large-format 288-page hardcover book, “Overview.”
Grant’s venture began in 2013 when he launched a space club at his consulting company “as an excuse to bring people together for lunch,” the artist said in a recent interview at The New School, on W. 12th St. While collecting satellite images, he found online to bring to his next club meeting, he became enthralled by the breathtaking, intricate landscapes developed by humans, as viewed from above.
In order to share these high-quality aerial shots, he needed access to downloadable satellite photographs. He partnered with Digital Globe, a space-imagery vendor — that is, once the company determined he wasn’t doing anything illegal, since there aren’t too many brand-strategy consultants independently requesting satellite information. Once he downloaded the images, he zoomed in, stitched them together, rotated them, and made slight color adjustments.
He began sharing the images on his Instagram page, “Daily Overview,” in early 2014 and continues to post one aerial view a day with a short, digestible caption. His unique posts caught the attention of an editor at Penguin Random House, who then offered Grant a book deal.
Leaving his consulting job behind, Grant, a Yale graduate who studied history and art history, accepted the offer in hopes that he could change the way we see the Earth. “Overview” just hit shelves worldwide and is currently available at Grant’s favorite bookstore, Three Lives & Company.
“It’s a magical little place on W. 10th St. that I love to go to peruse for new books,” Grant said.
In addition to satellite photos and reading, the Christopher St. resident also enjoys biking through the Village’s quieter streets to clear his mind and explore. His enjoyment of the outdoors inspires his love for the planet. He uses the striking enhanced-photo images he creates as a means to pull people in to read his objective captions about humanity’s impact on environments around the world.
“The book is unbiased,” Grant stated. He carefully selected what photographs to use in it, based on their visual allure and the story they tell. But he also used his Instagram page as a focus group, learning from the successes of each post and the feedback he received on them.
While a satellite view of Central Park did make it onto a two-page spread in “Overview,” he hopes to use his drone to take his own photograph of the Great Lawn one day soon. In the future, he looks forward to visiting some of the places he has written about. For now, he’s focusing on his national book tour.
“Overview” includes 225 images and is currently selling for $25 (down from $40) on Amazon.