ANITIX87
Topic Author
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Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Sun Mar 02, 2008 10:23 pm

Hello, everyone.

I have been shooting aviation as a hobby for a few years now and I'd like to think I'm improving every time I go out. A great opportunity may present itself to me (hitting the ramp at a major airport), so I got to thinking about photography as a career.

I am currently at school for Mechanical Engineering but my passion for photography, and not to mention my passion for aviation, has been increasing exponentially for the last few years.

I was just wondering what the lifestyle is like. I know guys like Sam Chui post here and I was hoping to get some feedback from some of the best photogs in the industry. How do you get into this type of life-style? How do you establish yourself? Is it difficult? Are the benefits worth the costs and time it takes to become recognized? Is it possible to be something else by day, and an aviation photog by night? I ask the last question because I still plan on entering the engineering industry when I graduate, but would like to explore my options. I want to make the most out of my education while taking advantage of my passion for travel, photography, and aviation.

I realize this is a very vague thread, but my hopes are to see what the guys who give us the best shots think of life as a professional aviation photographer and to hear some great stories from your lives.

Thanks for taking the time to read this thread. Hopefully I'll one day join your ranks.

TIS
www.stellaryear.com: Canon EOS 50D, Canon EOS 5DMkII, Sigma 50mm 1.4, Canon 24-70 2.8L II, Canon 100mm 2.8L, Canon 100-4
 
N101AA
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Sun Mar 02, 2008 10:39 pm

There are no professional aviation photographers on this site. There is no way one could make enough money doing this so that it is your sole income. There are some people that have a freakin ton of money which enables them to go places and visit areas otherwise restricted to normal people. Those people don't make money doing this...they spend a ton of money to get the shots they do get.

You can't make a living out of this however, especially when there are so many photographers willing to give their photos away for free.
 
timdegroot
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Sun Mar 02, 2008 10:42 pm



Quoting N101AA (Reply 1):
There are no professional aviation photographers on this site.

I know a few.

Tim
Alderman Exit
 
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JeffM
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 12:02 am

LOL.... "ms. knowitall"  rotfl 
 
ANITIX87
Topic Author
Posts: 2958
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 12:10 am



Quoting N101AA (Reply 1):

You can't make a living out of this however, especially when there are so many photographers willing to give their photos away for free.

Bitter much? Haha. Just kidding.

Quoting TimdeGroot (Reply 2):

I know a few.

As do I.

I'm just curious, that's all.

TIS
www.stellaryear.com: Canon EOS 50D, Canon EOS 5DMkII, Sigma 50mm 1.4, Canon 24-70 2.8L II, Canon 100mm 2.8L, Canon 100-4
 
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Moose135
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 12:20 am



Quoting N101AA (Reply 1):
There are no professional aviation photographers on this site.

Not only do I know a few, I've actually been out spotting with one at JFK a few times!
KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
 
Newark777
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 12:44 am



Quoting N101AA (Reply 1):

You can't make a living out of this however, especially when there are so many photographers willing to give their photos away for free.

If you are in a profession where you are trying to make a living off something others give away for free, maybe you should think about a better career. Or take better pictures.  Wink
Why grab a Heine when you can grab a Busch?
 
QANTAS077
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:06 am



Quoting ANITIX87 (Thread starter):
I know guys like Sam Chui post here and I was hoping to get some feedback from some of the best photogs in the industry.

funny thing is that he works a normal 9-5 job in an office in Sydney...
 
whappeh
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:15 am

You can always shoot weddings on a regular basis that way you're a professional photographer... just don't tell people that you shoot weddings full time. :P
-Travel now, journey infinitely.
 
Fly747
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:19 am



Quoting JeffM (Reply 3):
LOL.... "ms. knowitall" rotfl

That was my reaction as well.
There are pros on this site alright, it doesn't necessarily mean that a.net is their primary income  Wink

Ivan
 
Jawed
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 2:32 am

I am a professional aviation photographer. From my photos I make approximately $3.92 per week.
 
CalgaryBill
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 2:43 am



Quoting ANITIX87 (Thread starter):
I am currently at school for Mechanical Engineering but my passion for photography, and not to mention my passion for aviation, has been increasing exponentially for the last few years.

Your background is similar to a friend of mine. He is an engineer as well (he specializes in oil field, but I'm not sure if it's chemical, process or mechanical) but he has a huge passion for photography. What to do? He combines the two - his specialization is photographing and video taping destructive and non-destructive testing (and the results of the testing) using all sorts of funky gear such as ultraviolet and infra-red. Not only does he put together video presentations and still image libraries of the lab's work, but he also uses the equipment for his personal projects - with his employer's support.

B
 
eadster
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 2:44 am

I know many professional photographers (not all aviation), and with the digital era here, they find it hard to make a living.

Just look through some sites like flickr etc. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can buy a digital camera and with a decent knowledge of editing, can produce just as good shots as pro's.

Even for someone that has no idea, they get a computer, read about photography, download programs, get some gear and they're away.

I would love too, but wouldn't give up my day job to do it.
 
jetmatt777
Crew
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 3:41 am



Quoting Jawed (Reply 10):
I am a professional aviation photographer. From my photos I make approximately $3.92 per week.

D'oh, I've only made 12 dollars total from 3 years of uploading. Well, with only 12 ordinary pics to choose from, it's kinda hard to make any cash from it  Wink

-Matt
Lighten up while you still can, don't even try to understand, just find a place to make your stand and take it easy
 
scottieprecord
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 4:14 am

I'm a first-year photojournalism major right now.. figured that'd be my best shot of actually being a professional aviation photographer. And if aviation doesn't work out, I'll get in with traditional journalism.
 crossfingers 

Mike
 
NIKV69
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 4:29 am



Quoting N101AA (Reply 1):
There are no professional aviation photographers on this site. There is no way one could make enough money doing this so that it is your sole income. There are some people that have a freakin ton of money which enables them to go places and visit areas otherwise restricted to normal people. Those people don't make money doing this...they spend a ton of money to get the shots they do get.

Wow, tell us how you really feel. Again Tis asked some simple questions. He didn't need a lesson on the caste system here or a tirade of your professional jealousy.

Quoting Fly747 (Reply 9):
That was my reaction as well.
There are pros on this site alright, it doesn't necessarily mean that a.net is their primary income

I think this sums it up the best. You may be able to make a nice sum if you can hook up with a publication or something but for the most part you would need a steady source of income. Whether that be other forms of photography or another job all together.
Hey that guy with the private jet can bail us out! Why? HE CAN AFFORD IT!
 
QANTAS077
Posts: 5176
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2004 5:08 pm

RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 4:37 am

hang out in LA and stick your lens in Spears face..that will make you a tidy sum of money.
 
zululima
Posts: 373
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:06 am



Quoting Newark777 (Reply 6):
If you are in a profession where you are trying to make a living off something others give away for free, maybe you should think about a better career.

Seems to work ok for hookers, why not aviation photographers?  Big grin I've wondered about what it would be like to be a pro myself. I think I would rather it be a hobby than a necessity, which would undoubtedly end up being stressful and/or monotonous. People have a way of getting sick of their jobs, and it would be a shame for that to happen to something you enjoy so much. Plus, in order to get the shots that truly outrank the amateurs, you have to invest heavily in equipment and develop your craft over many years. I think you are on the right path with continuing education and a career in engineering. Let the photography become what it becomes, and if you can end up making some cash on the side, all the better.
I didn't get a 'Harumph' outta that guy!
 
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cpd
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:25 am



Quoting Eadster (Reply 12):
I know many professional photographers (not all aviation), and with the digital era here, they find it hard to make a living.

Just look through some sites like flickr etc. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can buy a digital camera and with a decent knowledge of editing, can produce just as good shots as pro's.

Even for someone that has no idea, they get a computer, read about photography, download programs, get some gear and they're away.

I would love too, but wouldn't give up my day job to do it.

I'd also love to do photography a lot more, but I know I'd miss the frantic pace of public service (yes, you did read right - and I wasn't being sarcastic).

But I also know that if I did photos for a living, it'd be a chore - where as now, it's the stress release.  Smile
 
INNflight
Posts: 3526
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2004 5:11 am

RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 10:55 am



Quoting ANITIX87 (Thread starter):
How do you establish yourself?

Good pics, a ton of luck and loooooooots of contacts. You need to know people. A lot of them. Better be a nice person.

Quoting ANITIX87 (Thread starter):
Is it difficult?

How many do you know who are "totally" pro? I don't know more than 10 from the top of my head. Damn difficult I imagine, as in any profession I guess.

Quoting N101AA (Reply 1):
You can't make a living out of this however

LOL yeah right. Whatever.
---

Actually, I think the term professional "aviation" photographer is a bit misplaced.

They have to present a product in the best way possible, just that their product is a Falcon 2000 or an airline or whatever. Others shoot cosmetics or jewellery, these guys shoot planes.

I think it's not so much about the experience you get on sites like A.net or likewise ones. Your customer probably won't care whether you recognize the freighter next to their Challenger has the new whatever colour scheme. You have to shoot their product, that's all that counts.

I am not a "professional" by any means, but got (lucky? enough) to get an assignment for a bizjet operator. It's not the superfancy feeling I got, even though they paid well and arranged me anything I wanted.
I got up at 4:30am, drove 3hrs to that airport, did the shooting from 8am - 3pm and then drove home 3hrs again.
They needed the pictures on the next day, so I had dinner and started the post-processing on the images. I had them all done around 12:30am, went to bed and mailed them the DVD at 8am the next day.

I'd do (and actually will do) it again, and already look forward to that, because I truly love doing that, however it's not relaxing or fancy or whatever. It's hard work, and you better don't screw up Big grin
----

Now, if you wanna see a real pro..... www.airtoair.net
Jet Visuals
 
soon7x7
Posts: 2267
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 6:16 pm



Quoting N101AA (Reply 1):

Yes you can...been doing it for twenty years, have travelled the world doing it and being paid to do it, own my own house, a sailboat, fly gliders and bug smashers and drive a paid for mercedes...make just enough to pay my bills...it can be very rough at times, has no respect for your personal life. If you offered me a six digit stock broker job in NY I'd turn it down to stay with what I'm doing...j
 
soon7x7
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Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 10:51 am

RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Mon Mar 03, 2008 10:36 pm



Quoting N101AA (Reply 1):

PS...There exists on this site many, many talented photographers that consistently turn out outstanding images of PROFESSIONAL quality. Because they may not obtain revenue from it does not make them any less professional...But you are correct in that the fiscal investment prohibits most from elevating their hobby to a business. Think I know who you are referring too...anyone that can pay big bucks to hire choppers for fun and travel the world over BETTER come back with good photos. I can think of one individual...whose work I have only seen published twice. I can't imagine the overall investment in obtaining the few images I have seen. Can't imagine the RETURN has been worth it...j
 
diezel
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Tue Mar 04, 2008 2:41 pm

I know at least one aviation photographer (if you would call it aviation) who makes money with doing what he loves.

He goes to air and car shows and takes pictures of the airplanes, cars and people which are there. He then hands them his business card which points them to a website where they can have a look at and order the pictures he took.

I don't know if its fun, but there are perks. Het gets to meet a lot of people which sometimes lead to contracts. At big shows where there is a lot of press present, the big camera brands like Nikon and Canon are usually present, selling their high-end equipment to the press photogs. He may often use that gear for a day, for free. He has a press card and is usually invited to the shows.

Is it fun? I dont know. It is probably just hard work with the usual ups and downs.


Roel.
Never be afraid of what you like. (Miles Davis)
 
viv
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RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Tue Mar 04, 2008 2:55 pm

It can be viable, but there are easier ways of making money.
Nikon D700, Nikkor 80-400, Fuji X Pro 1, Fujinon 35 f/1.4, Fujinon 18 f/2
 
soon7x7
Posts: 2267
Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 10:51 am

RE: Life As A Professional Aviation Photographer?

Tue Mar 04, 2008 6:52 pm



Quoting Viv (Reply 23):

Correct!...but if your passionate about it , it is worth it...however i'm sometime jealous of fed ex drivers, good pay, friendly, health benfits...don't have to be creative ...bla bla bla...j...grass is always GREENER!

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