GEAR : Aerial Photography Tips / by Glenn Fajota

Im lucky to be one of the few commercial advertising photographers in the region that's trusted and hired for aerial photography, which allows me to up in the air a few times a year. I would love to take all my photo and video gear up there but for this particular trip, I was hired to shoot still images of 4 locations for the City of Hampton, Virginia. Since this shot list wasnt calling for close details, my camera settings were enough to yield sharp images in which the final products are going to be 8' foot prints. If I were shooting architecture or detailed shots, I would have plugged the gyro/stabilizer to the camera. But of course these images still have to super sharp, so after I take 10 or so shots, I preview the image on the LCD and zoom in as much as I can to make sure the images arent soft.

Flying an aircraft above residential and commercial areas, the pilot has to work with the FAA and fly at a certain height. They are also in constant contact with the nearest flight tower and for this shoot, it was the guys over at Langley Air Force Base, since they were the closest. We cant hear his conversations in the headset but when he needs to talk to us, he has a button to switch over. The headsets are needed up there because it gets so loud sitting just a few feet from the rotor so it muffs the noise and also allows the passengers (art director, photographer, client) to talk amongst each other. 

With any shoot, a reshoot is not an option. A professional should get the job done the first time especially with aerial photography. The average cost for an hour flight time is about $3000-5000 (helicopter and pilot) so if I didnt get the shot they wanted, Id have to pay for that time again to go up. Actually, I wouldnt be hired again and I would be blacklisted, haha.