Aerial Photographer

Snap pictures from high above the ground in a helicopter or airplane.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$17,000 – $63,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Aerial Photographers do?

Birds and insects often have the best view of the ground below. But you can join this exclusive clique when you’re an Aerial Photographer. Tiny details fade into insignificance as the pattern of the terrain comes into clear focus, and the Aerial Photographer gets to capture this bird’s-eye view on film by taking photographs from an airplane or helicopter.

As an Aerial Photographer, you may work for a news agency, a mapmaking company, or a realty company, or you may own your own business. In any case, you’re given an area to photograph, and you partner with a Pilot to investigate. During the flight, you communicate with the Pilot, asking to circle around specific areas or get closer to certain parts of the landscape. You then take detailed photographs of the scenes you see, making sure you’re using the right camera settings to capture each sight perfectly.

If you’re using a digital camera, you may be able to check your work right away. If you’re using traditional film, however, you have to rely on your expertise to make sure you’re capturing the right photographs, but you won’t truly know until the film is developed.

You may operate your own studio, allowing you to develop your own film when you’re done with the shoot. Otherwise, you send your film to a trusted Film Developer. With a digital camera, you may download your digital photos onto your computer, and manipulate them a bit to enhance the sharpness and color.

You make sure not to alter any details, though, because your photographs must be accurate. While you might be tempted to turn rivers pink or crops violet-blue, or make your house seem like a gigantic mansion in the middle of the landscape, your clients may not appreciate your artistic flair.

Should I be an Aerial Photographer?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Levelheaded: You hold your emotions in check, even in tough situations.
  • Flexible: You're open to change and think variety is the spice of life.

  • Also known as: Photographer, Aerial

    How to become an Aerial Photographer

    Most Aerial Photographers have no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate or Associate's degree to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:9cddaa&chl=no+college+%2864%25%29|certificate+%2829%25%29|associate%27s+%284%25%29|bachelor%27s+%284%25%29||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,64,64
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