Aerial Photographer

By TACP Staff on July 10, 2021

An aerial photograph is a photograph taken while the photographer is on board an aircraft flying above the ground. Most often, this type of photography is achieved using specialized cameras and accessories including telescopic lenses, external power supplies for extended battery life, environmental protection for extreme weather conditions, and gimbals to reduce vibration. As with all photography, creating compelling and truly representative images requires some artistic judgment from the photographer.

What Is Aerial Photography?

Aerial photography is the art, technique, and practice of taking photographs from or above the ground using an aircraft. In recent years it has become popular with real estate professionals offering aerial views of properties for sale or with tourism agencies who want to showcase the beauty and scale of a natural landscape or historical site to attract visitors. Aerial photography has also been used extensively by environmentalists and wildlife biologists to offer a unique perspective of things such as deforestation, pollution, crop damage, as well as other issues that are impossible to view at ground level. In the U.S. “aerial photography” is also often used to refer to aerial videography or videography performed by a professional with specialized equipment rather than by a general-purpose film or video camera.

Aerial photography may be performed at any altitude, from “micro” (100-1000 ft) to “macro” (2000-10,000 feet or 6 km). Aerial photography is also used when the picture must have a high depth of field and a large perspective. A common technique for obtaining aerial photographs is to make controlled parabolas/loops around the subject with the camera mounted in the aircraft. Images can then be taken for printing, and possibly shot from different angles if required.

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What Does an Aerial Photographer Do?

An aerial photographer is someone who uses a camera to capture an image while in the air. This can be done by using a plane, drone, balloon, or even a kite as the platform for the camera. Aerial photographers tend to use digital SLR cameras that have interchangeable lenses and high-resolution sensors attached to them. They are most commonly employed by a company to take photographs of certain areas of interest and provide their clients with artful images that will promote tourism and increase visibility. 

Examples of Aerial Photography

Aerial Photographer Salary 

Aerial photography is a highly specialized profession without its own occupational category in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means that salary estimates for aerial photographers are based on the general category of photographers since data on aerial photography is limited. According to the BLS, in May of 2020, the median pay for photographers in the United States was $41,280. This is the equivalent of $19.85 per hour. Top earners in the 90th percentile of the category earned an annual wage of $86,850, or $41.76 per hour. Wage potential is impacted significantly by a person’s experience, industry, and skill level.  

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