Career in Photography

What is Aerial photography? Types and Career Path

Have you ever seen a map and wondered how the cartographers pulled such magic out of their sleeves? The level of preciseness they exhibit in their work is commendable, and it leaves us scratching our heads at times. Or maybe, if you are a fan of James Bond, you must have seen his wild and intense bike chases from a bird’s point of view. Whether it is the cartographer or the bird’s view of the chase, it has one basic principle: Aerial Photography!

Aerial Photography and its History

As the name suggests, aerial photography means taking photos from the air. High-end cameras are placed on airborne vehicles like aircraft, rockets, and balloons to get the desired pictures.

The first aerial photos were taken in a small village in France by a man named Gaspard-Félix Tournachon in 1858. Unfortunately, the images he took couldn’t stand the test of time, and what remains with us as the earliest surviving piece is the ‘Boston, as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It.’ taken by J.W. Black and Samuel Archer King.

Throughout the late 19th century, the use of aerial photography expanded rapidly into other parts of the world and peaked during the World Wars. The first images taken from the sky in India date back to 1920 in Agra.

Uses of Aerial Photography

Now that we know what this term means, let’s quickly go through its uses:

  1. Used for the reduction and prevention of disasters.
  2. Used for providing information during an emergency and humanitarian aid.
  3. Used for identifying areas of improvement and construction within society.
  4. Used for protection of the natural habitat and wildlife.
  5. Used by Geographers, cartographers, engineers, planners, travel companies, filmmakers and developers in their field of work.

Types of Aerial Photography

Aerial Photography can be divided based on the position of the camera axis and the scale. Let’s understand them one by one.

Based on the position of the camera axis

Under this category, we can classify images into three types:

  • Vertical photographs: In this type of photo, the camera axis is in the vertical position. It is used for mapping.
  • Low Oblique: When a photo is taken with a deviation of 15-30 degrees in the camera axis from the vertical axis, it is called low oblique photography. It is used for taking shots that require more details.
  • High Oblique: When a photo is taken with a deviation of 60 degrees from the vertical axis, it is called high oblique photography. The broad view makes it useful for mapping and other surveillance work.

Based on scales

Even under this category, we can classify images into three types:

  • Large scale: Here, the scale of the photo is 1:15000 and more. The area captured is less, but the object in the picture is large.
  • Medium scale: Here, the scale of the photo range between 1:15000 and 1:30000. Even in this type, the area covered is comparatively less.
  • Small scale: Here, the scale of the photo is under 1:30000. The area covered is large, so the object in the image is small.

A career in Aerial Photography

The science behind the topic is over! Now, let us delve into a vital issue for you, “Can I have a career in Aerial Photography?”

The answer is yes. Like any other form of art, aerial photography also has a lot of scope for the younger generation. You can work as an advertising, wildlife, industrial, or even as a wedding photographer, anything that suits you the best. Talking about the salary, various sources suggest an average aerial photographer earns around 4,00,000 – 9,00,000 per year. Adding to it the freedom to work in any niche that you like, aerial photography can be a dream job for you in the future.


With India turning into a global superpower and the rapid development in technology and industrialization, it is safe to say that aerial photography is a hot prospect for aspiring photographers. If you are someone who gets constant butterflies by the name of the sky, aerial photography is indeed for you.

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