9V-SPJ
Topic Author
Posts: 667
Joined: Thu Dec 21, 2000 1:51 pm

Becoming A Professional Aviation Photographer

Tue Apr 12, 2005 5:32 am

Hi all,
Did a search for this topic, but couldn't find anything! I have a few questions regarding becoming a professional aviation photographer.

1. Do you need a degree in photography? If not, would it be advisable to get one? Which are some of the best colleges to obtain such a degree?

2. What is roughly the yearly salary for a professional aviation photographer? I know it depends on the number of assignments, but what would one normally earn in one year?

3. What kinds of features are you looking for in a camera? (Lens, digital vs. film etc)

Just so its clear, my definition of a professional aviation photographer is one who takes pictures for airlines, aircraft manufacturers, aviation magazines, etc.

Thanks for all your help

9V-SPJ
 
DLKAPA
Posts: 7962
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2003 10:37 am

RE: Becoming A Professional Aviation Photographer

Tue Apr 12, 2005 5:37 am

If I do decide to jump in the "pro" field, I'm gonna stay freelance, that way I make my own assignments.
And all at once the crowd begins to sing: Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same
 
aviopic
Posts: 2423
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 7:52 pm

RE: Becoming A Professional Aviation Photographer

Tue Apr 12, 2005 6:45 am

Quoting 9V-SPJ (Thread starter):
1. Do you need a degree in photography? If not, would it be advisable to get one? Which are some of the best colleges to obtain such a degree?

No you don't need any kind of schooling although I strongly advice you to do something anyway, even if you already have "all" the knowledge a different view point will only be a benefit.

Quoting 9V-SPJ (Thread starter):
2. What is roughly the yearly salary for a professional aviation photographer? I know it depends on the number of assignments, but what would one normally earn in one year?

Forget about salary, you are looking at a long term investment first to get your name established.

Quoting 9V-SPJ (Thread starter):
3. What kinds of features are you looking for in a camera? (Lens, digital vs. film etc)

If someone wants material you need to deliver fast so go for digital, we are not talking in days anymore but hours at most.
A DSLR for sure but the brand is up to you, my choice would be a 1Ds mark 2 if only I could afford one.
And of course professional glass which is the most important item of all.


Good luck,
Willem
The truth lives in one’s mind, it doesn’t really exist
 
Staffan
Posts: 3879
Joined: Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:21 am

RE: Becoming A Professional Aviation Photographer

Tue Apr 12, 2005 7:04 am

If you are going freelance a business degree won't hurt. If you want to make a living from photography you need to market yourself. Marketing takes time and if you are good at it you'll have more time for photography.
Salary wise, no idea... but a rough guess is less and less as more people are getting their hands on high-end digital equipment and at the same time giving stuff away for free for the sole joy of seeing their name printed.
Regarding equipment, depending on what you are taking photos of, and who for, medium and even large format might not be out of question either. You also need backup equipment since photo shoots can be expensive and you don't want to stand there in the middle of it with your only camera broken.

But as said, the road is long and you'll need to invest both time and money to make yourself known.

Staffan
 
9V-SPJ
Topic Author
Posts: 667
Joined: Thu Dec 21, 2000 1:51 pm

RE: Becoming A Professional Aviation Photographer

Tue Apr 12, 2005 8:22 am

Thanks for all the replies!

9V-SPJ
 
ake0404ar
Posts: 2379
Joined: Wed May 24, 2000 10:55 am

RE: Becoming A Professional Aviation Photographer

Wed Apr 13, 2005 5:17 am

All I can say is that it takes a long time to get your name established. You need a lot of patience, skills, be at the right time and the right place, know the right people etc.......

How many pro aviation photographers are there on this planet? Not a lot. This is just a guess though.

If you have the interest, I would become a pro photographer first (PJ etc. ) and then go from there. Why would you limit yourself to aviation?

VG.

p.s. It maybe fun now, but wait until it is a profession...........pressure will be on and you have to deliver the images!
 
photopilot
Posts: 3061
Joined: Mon Jul 15, 2002 11:16 am

RE: Becoming A Professional Aviation Photographer

Wed Apr 13, 2005 8:02 am

My suggestion would be this.

I see by your profile that you are an American. So my answer would be to join either the Air Force or US Navy as a military photographer. Yes, it will take 5 years of your life. But here's what you'll get in return.

Professional training.
Access to the most amazing photo situations imagineable.
A college degree if you want it.
An amazing portfolio to be used later in life in the civilian arena.
Access to defense contractors (Boeing, Lougheed, etc., who could be your future clients)
Wide use of your images (published) and again, think portfolio.
Steady paycheck while you learn.

I used to work (Staff position) as a senior aviation photographer for Bombardier Aerospace. It's an amazing life to make your living as an aviation photographer, until some corporation VP somewhere decides to simply close your department to save a few dollars. What has seriously helped me when this disaster occurred wasit the University education that I have, plus continuing education in Business Management. Whatever you do, DON'T GIVE UP YOUR EDUCATION.

While working as a professional, I had the pleasure of meeting Tech Sgt. Herman Kokojian (spelling??) who was the US Military Photographer of the Year. That is why I suggest the military route because my jaw dropped seeing some of the hot birds he not only got to photograph, but also actually fly in on a regular basis.

Remember, nothing comes easy. Somewhere down the road you have to pay the dues for your career. Whether that be setting up on your own, where you have to buy all the equipment to work as a pro. Or paying for an education, or paying with time and sweat in the military. The choice is yours.

So that's my two cents worth.
Steve
 
9V-SPJ
Topic Author
Posts: 667
Joined: Thu Dec 21, 2000 1:51 pm

RE: Becoming A Professional Aviation Photographer

Wed Apr 13, 2005 10:08 am

Hi all, thanks for all the responses! I am in GATech writing know studying Aerospace Engineering, so I may pursue photography after I get a degree in AE!

9V-SPJ

P.S My profile indicates that I live in the US, I am actually an Indian  Smile
 
tappan
Posts: 1478
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 1999 9:30 pm

RE: Becoming A Professional Aviation Photographer

Thu Apr 14, 2005 12:43 am

To be a pro you must need patience to wait many, many, many,many,many,many months for your payment that always seems to be "in the mail". Oh, also a good bottle of crisco or lubricant to make it easier for the client to _______ you.
Mark Grfinkel
 
Skymonster
Posts: 3428
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2001 7:53 pm

RE: Becoming A Professional Aviation Photographer

Thu Apr 14, 2005 12:50 am

The official definition of a "professional photographer" in a number of countries is a person who earns more than half of their income from photography.

Andy
There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots
 
ake0404ar
Posts: 2379
Joined: Wed May 24, 2000 10:55 am

RE: Becoming A Professional Aviation Photographer

Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:57 am

Mark,

that was a good one.......but you are so right.
Any personal experience  Big grin Big grin

Vasco

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