A Beginners Guide to Aviation Photography

This has been something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time now. Years in the making and I’m finally wrapping my head around how to present it into easily digestible and snack-size portions. It’s something I wish I had when I started my journey into Aviation Photography myself. A guide driven by years of experience to steer my boiling-over energy in an enlightening and fruitful direction. If you shoot Canon, Nikon, Sony, or whatever, I want this guide to offer the same advice for any aviation enthusiast that wants to begin photographing aircraft.


This is not the only way to photograph aircraft and aviation events. This is information that I have learned over the years that helped me better my skills while photographing aircraft and it may or may not work well for you. If you’re just getting into photography, this is not for you. This is not a guide on teaching the fundamentals of photography. But it is intended to guide someone who has an understanding of the principles of photography and wants to start photographing aircraft and aviation events.

Part One: Starting Your Journey

I’m sure you have a great many questions, and I will try my best to answer them all. But I want to begin by asking you some of my own. And hopefully, with your answers, you can use them as a compass as you begin this adventure. Questions such as, how do you define Aviation Photography? What are you trying to accomplish? And finally, what type of Aviation events are you interested in photographing?

When I ruminate about Aviation Photography, I don’t think about the countless airshows and aviation events I want to attend. But I do continually ponder how am I going to capture unique photos of vintage aircraft from my ever-growing list. From new restorations to specific heritage flight combinations. For me, it is a passion that is an inseparable part of my being. So much so, that somehow if it became illegal to photograph aircraft, I would be an enthusiastic hardened criminal. I would fight to the bitter end to continue to do what I love. It is something that I’m never going to stop trying to master. But that’s how I define Aviation Photography. So, “How do You define it?” There’re no wrong answers. Make it whatever you want it to be. If it’s seaplanes, gliders, helicopters, warbirds, commercial airliners, business jets, or whatever…. Shoot what you love. It will show in your images.

On to the next important question, What are you trying to accomplish with your Aviation Photography? Are you trying to capture every major airliner that flies in and out of your local airport? Or do you want to capture your experiences at air shows and aviation events? Maybe you’re combining your love of aviation with photography. It could be as simple as wanting to try something outside of your comfort zone. Again, only you can determine what it is you’re trying to achieve. If you don’t know what you want to accomplish but you still have the urge to go photograph aircraft, don’t give up. Keep experimenting with different events and venues until you discover Your Path on this new photographic journey. I’ve always felt having a sense of purpose while behind your camera is important when creating images and produces far better results than aimlessly wandering around hoping for something interesting to happen.

And the last question I want you to consider is “What type of Aviation events are you interested in photographing?” Aviation Photography offers many different perspectives and opportunities to photograph aircraft and they each have their own unique challenges. Some are fast-paced, and others are laid back and slow. If you’re unsure about what type of events you want to attend, I would say go to as many different types as possible. Just don’t restrict yourself to just one type. In Part Two of this series, I will at length discuss the many types of events within Aviation Photography.

With your answers, hopefully, you have discovered Your definition of Aviation Photography, have some sense of purpose, and have an idea of the type of subjects you’re interested in photographing. If you’re asking yourself, why did I start with a series of questions and not jump into what’s the appropriate settings to shoot jets along with a list of must-see shows or events? Because you wouldn’t learn anything, nor would it help you grow as a photographer. To creatively envision a shot, then relentlessly chase after it and successfully capture it is far more rewarding than hoping on getting lucky. Like other art forms, this is a learning process and it’s going to take time. Some learn faster than others but remember it is not a race. This is YOUR journey into Aviation Photography. Travel it well at your own convenient pace. But understand along the way you’re going to screw up a bunch of shots, use the wrong settings, pick terrible shooting locations, and totally forget about the sneak pass. And that’s absolutely fine as long as you learn from your mistakes. Remember, anyone who calls themselves an “Aviation Photographer” has made the same mistakes you’re going to make. And if they say they haven’t, they’re a fucking liar.

Until next post,


All images in this post were shot on iPhone 11 Pro Max.

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Philosophy about Photography

Part one: The Rhythm of Photography

Since I rekindled my love of photography, I’ve discovered it has an all too familiar rhythm. One that has been secretly and deeply embedding itself into my photography over the years but has just lately moved into the light of my passion. Looking back, this unrevealed rhythm has been consistently setting the cadence of creativity and exploration in my imagery. This rhythm I’ve been subconsciously marching to for years has been a driving force behind many aspects of my philosophy of creating unique images. And has spawned numerous adventures as a result along with a multitude of blog posts. This newly unearthed rhythm has 5 key notes starting with Envision, Chase, Capture, Process, and ends with Share. Let’s take a further dive into each.


It starts with envisioning an idea and setting it as a goal for yourself. It can be as simple as “I want to take some photos of flowers.” Or as complex as “I want to capture the USN Blue Angels sneak pass with a full vapor cone.” It truly doesn’t matter what your subject is or how grand of an idea it is either. You just need to have some direction, just a hint of a loose idea. Whatever you decide, don’t think that it has to be clearly defined with every detail known. Maybe you’re going on holiday, and you want to show a sense of location, or you are trying your eye in a different genre of photography. As long as you are not aimlessly searching for that “Great Shot”. I firmly believe that “Great Shots” begins with an inspiring idea from a creative standpoint and does not just happen. Don’t get it twisted, I’m not saying spontaneity hasn’t produced any mind-blowing images, because it has. But you shouldn’t expect Lady Luck to be waving her magic wand in your direction every time you push the shutter. It’s unrealistic and your results amounts to a waste of time.


That old saying “Knowing is half the battle” is relevant when it comes to chasing down your images. The knowledge of where and when your subject is available is tremendous. Attributes such as the time of day and or season you want to capture your idea. How you want to light your subject. How often is your subject available and how long will it be around? And being patient with Mother Nature because she loves to start tripping when you need her to behave. Chasing the image in your mind’s eye could take hours, days, or even years to capture. It’s paramount that you don’t lose sight of what you’re trying to accomplish. And it will test your resolve. Having a plentiful supply of vigilance along with an abundance of patience will aid you in mastering the chase. Remember, you will miss every shot you don’t take.


When the time comes and you see your image about to come to fruition, you must possess a healthy working knowledge of your gear along with an adequate understanding of exposure and composition. Knowing how to change your shutter speed, depth of field, focus point, or any other function without having to look and figure out what button does what. Developing that level of muscle memory only comes with time and experience behind your camera. How you’re going to capture the moment is just as important. What equipment along with what settings to use to successfully capture your idea. Will it require the use of a monopole or tripod, single shot, or continuous shooting to get the best results? Timing is a key factor as well. What amount of time do you have with your subject? You may be attending a multi-day event or just have a half hour with your subject. Regardless, you must make the best use of whatever time is available. Most importantly, how are you feeling? Even the slightest symptom such as headache, congestion, or fatigue can affect how focused you are on your task. Take care of yourself before heading out.


Having an effective post-process routine is necessary for refining your digital images. Knowledge of your post-processing software is crucial, and YouTube, as well as Google, are helpful resources. Whatever software you have, you should know how to import and export your files, maintain a competent understanding of the tools, be able to adjust the exposure, modify the white balance, level the horizon of your photo, and the list of edits goes on and on. A frequently overlooked aspect of post-processing is sorting. Finding that adequate set of images that perfectly expresses your vision. Because the quickest way to lose your viewer’s attention is to show them multiple pictures of the same subject that visually has little to no difference from one another. Finally, file format and location of files are essential as well. Not every platform can recognize the variety of file formats from the multitude of programs.


How you share your imagery along with who you share it with, is equally important. Receiving and learning from non-bias advice is fundamental for us to grow in life as well as with photography. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include family and friends. We all need someone who can offer us honest feedback and not give us sugarcoated responses. And the truth hurts sometimes. But that’s ok as long as we learn something useful from our experiences. On to how you share your photos. Sharing on dead platforms and oversaturated sites is not beneficial for growing your audience and gaining exposure. Knowing how to promote one’s images is not easy and doesn’t happen overnight. This too requires patience and consistency. With the numerous social media platforms, online forums to local photo clubs, there are countless ways to showcase your work and gain exposure.

This rhythm has been a major factor in my growth as a photographer. Relentlessly, pushing me further out of my comfort zone. It’s responsible for developing healthy photographic habits such as coming up with a shooting routine and help with the tedious task of image sorting. Not only has it altered my approach, but it continues to steer my journey into photography to this day. Time and time again, this seasoned rhythm has not failed me in any of my photographic ambitions. If you have been following this blog and reading my posts for any amount of time, you can see all the telltale signs of this rhythm. A prime example is Part Three of my “The Story Behind an Image” series. Where I share how I shot “My 11 Year and 16 Aviation Event Shot”. Each part of this rhythm is clearly shown from beginning to end. And I posted it back in June of 2017, 6 years before I wrote this post.

Until next time,



Philosophy about Photography Part Two: The Pain of Sorting

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