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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Transportation Talk 
Thread started 29 Jun 2013 (Saturday) 10:53
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Air to Air Beginner

3 posts
Joined Jul 2012
Jun 29, 2013 10:53 |  #1

Good Evening all,

I was wondering if there is anyone out there who could share their words of wisdom about how I could possibly go about setting foot into the world of air to air photography.

From as far back as I can remember I've always loved aircraft and I've loved photography for many years now too, so I was thinking why not put my two passions together?

I've had numerous connections to aviation in the past, from working with my dad as youngster at a local airfield to a spell in the RAF (Royal Air Force) and more recently working air side at Stansted Airport.
I've still got a connection, albeit pretty tenuous, to the airfield that I 'worked' at as a youngster but I was wondering if anyone had any experience or ideas as to the best way to go about connecting with aircraft owners willing to give a beginner in air to air photography a chance at honing their skills.

Like I said, I've been into photography for years now so I know my way around my equipment and I've photographed aircraft before just not from the air.

Any advice would be hugely appreciated!!

Thanks in advance!


Canon 7D - 17-85mm - 50mm f1.8 - 70-200mm f2.8

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75,431 posts
Gallery: 8 photos
Likes: 2240
Joined Feb 2004
Location: Middle of Michigan
Jun 29, 2013 14:01 |  #2

You've come to the right place! Except for the first, they aren't in any particular order:

Jay's thread: (Air To Air)
Gallery: http://crosswindimages​.com/p1028594911 (external link)

[AIR 2 AIR] Canon 70-200 f/4?

Moose Peterson video: Air2Air Workshop – Fantasy of Flight

Air2Air Workshops (external link)

Air-to-Air tips?

Shooting from a Helicopter

Air to Air aviation photographer Paul Bowen reveals his secrets (external link)

Paul Bowen's portfolio (external link)

Jay - Tyler mount
Helo to helo shots

And finally, the best of luck! Or at least, better than this dufus...

http://sanfrancisco.cb​ …gh-roof-of-petaluma-home/ (external link)

FrankC - 20D, RAW, Manual everything...
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Senior Member
805 posts
Likes: 892
Joined Aug 2007
Location: Centreville,VA
Jun 29, 2013 14:59 as a reply to  @ PhotosGuy's post |  #3

Excellent reading here
http://blog.photoshelt​ …rom-1000-feet-in-the-air/ (external link)

John Lackey
Fly By Photography (external link)
Blog (external link)

Radial engines don't actually leak oil, by the way. They just mark their territory!

3 posts
Joined Jul 2012
Jul 01, 2013 04:21 as a reply to  @ jwol's post |  #4

Hey guys,

Thanks for your input, the links are really good thanks!!

Any ideas about how to go about finding accommodating aircraft owners? I'm guessing its going to be easier said than done.
I was thinking about contacting some Flying Schools, a couple of local warbird owners and some aviation magazine publishers.

I'd really like to find a photographer will to show me the ropes but like most types of photograph, pros don't want others treading on their toes.

Being in the UK, I can imagine the options are a bit limited given the size of our island haha.

Canon 7D - 17-85mm - 50mm f1.8 - 70-200mm f2.8

POTN Landscape & Cityscape Photographer 2005
10,884 posts
Likes: 3
Joined Apr 2003
Location: southern Alberta, Canada
Jul 01, 2013 10:16 as a reply to  @ monjardino's post |  #5

Frank has given you some great links. Finding owners that want air to air shots of their aircraft can be difficult as this service doesn't come cheap. I have done alot for airlines but very limited for private aircraft owners. The ones I have done were for owners that were putting their aircraft up for sale and the broker wanted some air to air shots and those that had historically significant aircraft. I think you would have better luck marketing yourself to firms that specialize in selling aircraft. Flying schools sometimes do some but I haven't found that to be a great source.

I typically do all of mine in film in 6x7cm format because history has taught me that they like to order very large prints. I do shoot some digital to supplement them.

Your post sounds like this is something that you want to do because it sounds like fun and not necessarily a profession choice. It can be tough to get that first shoot and as long as you do a decent job of that it is not that hard to find others. These customers are spending a great deal of money to get this done and normally want someone that knows what they are doing and can keep the time in the air to a minimum. I know one person that paid for the aircraft time for both the target and chase plane in order to get his first shoot under his belt. He then made some large prints and setup in the lobby of local flying clubs on busy days like a Saturday in summer. He got a few jobs out of it.

I have always taken an additional person up with me to facilitate film and lens change outs. While some pros may not like to share their experience in this field many do and it is a matter of keeping at it until you find someone that will let you tag along.

My life is like one big RAW file....way too much post processing needed.
Sheldon Simpson | My Gallery (external link) | My Gear updated: 20JUL12

3 posts
Joined Jul 2012
Jul 02, 2013 02:54 as a reply to  @ ssim's post |  #6

Hey Sheldon,

Thanks for your input. I hadn't thought about broker companies but I'll pursue that avenue for sure.
When it came to you finding an assistant did you use someone who was specifically into air to air work or just generally into photography?
Do you think it's worth contacting aircraft magazines directly to see how they go about finding photographers for assignments or is it generally freelancers that they get in to do the work? Maybe they could recommend a photographer or two that might consider allowing me to assist.

I can understand how my post could come across like this is something that I think is a bit of fun but it definitely intend to try and make a career out of my photography. Having been into aviation from as young as I can remember, I think it would be great to combine both my passions in life. I would have liked to have combined the two well before now but sadly life had its own ideas and through a few spanners in the works but now I'm looking into the most effective and productive routes to learning the ropes and building some experience.

Again thanks for your input guys, please keep it coming.

Canon 7D - 17-85mm - 50mm f1.8 - 70-200mm f2.8

Cream of the "Prop"
57,560 posts
Likes: 125
Joined May 2007
Location: Probably Chasing Aircraft
Jul 02, 2013 03:31 |  #7

The first and most important element of air to air photography is: Safety...

A2A is NOT something you "dabble" in. Very few professional pilots are qualified to fly formation and almost no private pilots are.

You must find trained, qualified and current formation pilots before you ever consider putting two chunks of aluminum in close proximity. Settling for less is the fastest way to get people killed.

Crosswind Images (external link)
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"If you aren't getting extraordinary images from today's dSLRs, regardless of brand, it's not the camera!" - Bill Fortney, Nikon Corp.

Senior Member
664 posts
Joined Oct 2009
Location: Washington
Jul 02, 2013 09:31 |  #8

Awesome resource - I've seen similar from Kopenick and Bowen but I think this may be one of the most helpful I've seen from the pros.

I spend too much on flying to have much equipment worth listing!

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Air to Air Beginner
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