A guide to aerial photography and hiring an aerial photographer

Page 1: Why choose aerial photography
Page 2: Finding a good photographer
Page 3: Questions to ask

Hannah Shanks - Editor

How do I find a good photographer?

The best way to find a reliable, competent aerial photographer is through word of mouth. If you don't know anyone who has used an aerial photographer before, ask your local estate agent if they can recommend a photographer they have used for marketing property.

Otherwise, you can do an internet search and browse aerial-photography websites. Papa International, the Professional Aerial Photographers' Association, has a search function which allows you to search for members in your area. You can also contact the British Institute of Professional Photographers and ask them to recommend someone.

However, don't assume that just because a photographer is a member of a professional association their work is of a professional standard. While some associations, such as BIPP, thoroughly examine a photographer's work before conferring membership, others ask for little more than payment of the membership fee.

Try to find someone local. This will help to keep costs down, as aerial photographers almost always make an extra charge for mileage. This is particularly relevant to aircraft-based photography, where airtime makes up the bulk of the cost.

Go for a specialist. Many photographers will advertise themselves as an 'aerial photographer' when in reality they do very little aerial work. These photographers might lack the necessary skills and experience to carry out quality, aerial photography, which requires a different perspective to other types of photography. Visit photographers' websites. If you find there are more wedding snaps than aerial photographs, steer clear.

Once you have a list of candidates, ask to see their portfolios. Many photographers have samples of their work on their websites. If not, they should be able to e-mail you high resolution images of previous work. If you intend to order prints, you should visit the photographer in person and ask to see sample prints an electronic image won't always give you a 'true picture' of the quality of a print.

Discuss your requirements and ask specifically to see previous work of a similar nature to your brief. If you want images of a four-bedroom, family home for use in a sale advertisement, ask to see samples depicting similar houses which were used for the same purpose. Choose a photographer who has a lot of experience photographing properties similar to yours, and whose images appeal to you.

A good photographer will be able to determine a property's most attractive features and selling points and use them to maximum advantage. As most house sale ads use only one image, you want that one image to show your property at its best.

How much will it cost?

Costs can vary wildly, depending on factors such as equipment used, location and overheads. The same job can attract quotes that differ by several hundreds of pounds. A company that operates its own aircraft and is based in rural Norfolk is going to have lower overheads than a London-based photographer who has to charter an aeroplane.

However, aerial photography needn't cost a small fortune. If the job is small and you hire someone local, you could get a CD of high resolution images for 150. Prints are normally extra, but can cost as little as 5 each. Whether you want images taken from an aeroplane, or you prefer a ground-based service, it pays to shop around.


Property pros