Six things to think about when choosing an aerial photographer

1)       Take a look through their portfolio which should be listed on the company website.  The portfolio doesn’t have to be extensive….just a few aerial photographs to give you an idea of the photographer’s work product.

2)      Does the aerial photographer belong to any professional associations?  Most reputable aerial photographers belong to the Professional Aerial Photographers Association otherwise known as PAPA.   This association provides up-to-date information on tips and techniques as well as educational conferences to participating photographers.  You can visit the PAPA website at and do a search by City for aerial photographers who service your area.

3)      Find out if the photographer will be using a plane or helicopter.  This will have a huge impact on the cost of the photo mission.  Fixed wing aircraft are much cheaper to operate per hour, and in most cases, a fixed wing plane will achieve the same results as a helicopter.  Yes a helicopter can get down to a lower altitude but with the different lenses on most professional cameras, the altitude is usually not an issue.

4)      Will the copyrights to your photos be turned over to you?  This is important!!!   Make sure that all of the photographs and copyrights are turned over to you when the job is complete.  Some aerial photographers will charge an extra fee (copyright fee) to burn the photos to a CD.  After the photos are taken, they belong to you.  That is what you paid for.  Make sure that this is negotiated before your hire your aerial photographer.

5)      Find out where the aerial photographer is based out of.  The closer that the aerial photographer’s home airport is to your site, the lower your estimate will be.  The key to getting the best rate is to get the plane to your site and back as quick as possible.  If you live in Southern NJ for example and you hire an aerial photographer based out of Manhattan, NY, you will pay for the flight time to your site and then back to Manhattan.  Putting a plane in the air is not cheap, so the closer your job is to the aerial photographer’s home airport the better.

6)       Is your aerial photographer also a pilot?  Despite what you might think, there are many aerial photographers who are not pilots.  Rather, they rent a plane and hire a commercial pilot fly to them to their photo missions.  There is nothing wrong with this and there are many great aerial photographers who are not pilots.  However, an aerial photographer who is a pilot will be able to schedule his/her own flight and evaluate weather favorable to both a safe flight and crisp/clear images.  In addition, an aerial photographer who is also a pilot will usually have a quicker turnaround time due to flexibility of planning his/her own flight.



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