Regardless of what airline it is, if you see a photo of a plane, there’s a good chance that it’s not on the ground, but flying. I always figured those kinds of pictures were the work of computer graphics, and some of them actually are. But a lot of pictures of planes in the air are actually pictures of planes in mid-flight. They’re taken by, not surprisingly, other planes in mid-flight.
How it’s all done is a whole lot more than just aiming and shooting a camera. Air-to-air photography is an art form. It takes a lot of coordination, as well as a photographer trained in this kind of work. Taking those kinds of pictures is a specialized talent; it’s not as if someone who takes studio portraits could suddenly decide to change their work path and start taking pictures of other planes ;-).
Before takeoff, the photographer and pilots have a briefing to talk about all the issues relative to the photoshoot – the route they’ll take, emergency procedures, loss of view, sunlight and background, etc.
More often than not, the plane where the pictures are being taken from will have a rear or side door open (so the photographer can get the most unobstructed views). Some photographers prefer to have a seat removed from the plane, so they can be seated on the floor of the plane, strapped in. Other photographers will sit backward in a seat by the open door, straddling the chair, with its back against their chest (they’re also, of course, strapped in).
The plane that’s being photographed will then fly in formation with the plane that has the photographer (the pilots of both planes should have experience with formation flying).
The photographer maintains some sort of communication with the pilot of the plane being photographed, so they can change position (higher, lower, closer, further apart, etc.) as needed for a photo, or for special dramatic effects such as circles, descents, etc.
The same goes for when they take a video of a plane in flight, for commercials, promo films, etc.
Want to see it all in action? Take a look:
Feature Photo: GoodWP.com
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary