Tunnel Mediator by Alexander Getty

Tunnel Mediator, 2013 by Alexander Getty

Until recently, San Francisco-based photographer Alexander Getty was flying under the radar in the art world—in fact, he was shooting homes for Airbnb. That’s surprising for a guy with such a recognizable last name. He is in fact part of the famous Getty clan—the grandson of the British-American oil tycoon Sir John Paul Getty Jr. and the son of Mark Getty, the cofounder of photo empire Getty Images.

“My dad created Getty Images right around the time I began photography, so we’ve kind of taken our journeys in the photo world together, though his was obviously on a much larger scale,” says 30-year-old Alexander. It was his other parent, however, who got him behind the lens at age 10. “My mom [Domitilla] has always been quite a serious photographer and she was the one who gave me a camera and taught me how to use it.”

Thursday night, Getty’s photography will make its formal debut at the Leila Heller Gallery in New York as part of the Land Art Road Trip show (on display through January 10), curated by Gerson Zevi. The arresting black-and-white images featured in the exhibition were shot during a 30-day road trip Getty took across the American Southwest—from the Grand Canyon to Marfa—with 30 rising young talents, including photographers Peter Baryshnikov (son of Mikhail Baryshnikov) and Rosanna Bach and artist Chris Willcox in the summer of 2013.

“I have been to all sorts of places: Africa, India, Turkey, Japan. But the trip that left me thinking the most was this one,” says Getty. “The notion of a distant land, rich in adventure and natural beauty, is closer than you think. Nothing quite prepares you for what you can discover at home.”

Land Art Road Trip opens at Leila Heller Gallery, 568 West 25th Street in NYC, on December 18.