Effective Aerial Photography: 5 Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Select the right equipment
  2. Plan your flight path
  3. How to capture composition
  4. Use of lighting
  5. Post-processing tips

Diving into the world of aerial photography can be a thrilling experience. It's not only an opportunity to capture stunning landscapes from a unique vantage point, but also a chance to build an impressive aerial photography portfolio. The key to creating a standout portfolio lies in mastering a few critical steps, starting with selecting the right equipment. Let's dive in, shall we?

Select the Right Equipment

Before you can start snapping those sky-high shots, you'll need the right gear. A well-thought and carefully curated equipment selection can make a world of difference in building your aerial photography portfolio. Here are some of the key pieces you should consider:


The star of your equipment lineup is, without a doubt, your drone. When picking the perfect drone, consider factors like flight time, image quality, and ease of control. Brands like DJI and Autel Robotics offer a range of drones that are perfect for beginners and pros alike. Remember: the more comfortable you are controlling your drone, the better your aerial shots will be.


A drone is only as good as the camera attached to it. For high-quality images, opt for drones with built-in cameras that offer high resolution and good low-light performance. Alternatively, if you're going for a drone without a built-in camera, look for one that supports attaching DSLR or mirrorless cameras. Canon, Sony and Nikon offer a range of cameras that work well for aerial shots.


When it comes to lenses, wide-angle ones are your best friend in aerial photography. They allow you to capture expansive landscapes and cityscapes in a single shot. Brands like Sigma and Tamron offer a wide range of wide-angle lenses that can help bring your aerial photography portfolio to life.


  • Batteries: Always carry extra batteries. The last thing you want is for your drone to run out of juice mid-flight.
  • Memory cards: High-resolution aerial shots can eat up a lot of storage space. Having extra memory cards on hand ensures you never miss a shot.
  • ND Filters: These can help manage the light hitting your drone's camera sensor, enhancing the quality of your shots.

Choosing the right equipment is the first step in building a top-notch aerial photography portfolio. In the next section, we'll talk about planning your flight path to ensure you capture the best possible shots.

Plan Your Flight Path

Once you've got your equipment in order, it's time to plan your flight path. A well-planned flight path can make the difference between a good aerial shot and a breathtaking one. Planning also ensures that you're flying safely and responsibly. Here's what you need to keep in mind:

Scout Your Location

Before you send your drone skyward, take the time to scout your location on foot. Look for interesting elements you'd like to capture, like a winding river, a colorful field, or the way the light hits a particular building. The more familiar you are with your location, the more likely you are to capture compelling shots and enrich your aerial photography portfolio.

Check Weather Conditions

Weather plays a significant role in aerial photography. A clear, sunny day may seem ideal, but overcast conditions can often produce more intriguing and dramatic photos. Furthermore, you'll need to avoid flying in high winds or rain to protect your equipment. There are numerous weather apps available that can provide up-to-date forecasts and help you plan accordingly.

Know Your Drone's Capabilities

Every drone has its unique capabilities and limitations. Some can fly higher, others are better at maneuvering around obstacles. Understanding your drone's capabilities can help you plan a flight path that maximizes its strengths and minimizes its weaknesses. This will not only improve your pictures but also extend the life of your drone.

Follow Regulations

Before you launch, make sure you're familiar with the local drone regulations. Some areas restrict or completely prohibit drone flights. The last thing you want is to get into trouble for the sake of your aerial photography portfolio. Websites like Drone Zone and UAV Coach provide updated information on drone laws worldwide.

With your flight path planned out, you're one step closer to capturing stunning aerial shots. The next step? Mastering composition, which we'll cover in the following section.

How to Capture Composition

Now that you've planned your flight path, let's focus on capturing the perfect composition. Composition is the arrangement of visual elements in a photograph. It's an art, and it can transform your aerial photography portfolio from good to great. Here are a few tips to help you master it:

Use the Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is a fundamental principle in visual arts, including photography. Imagine dividing your frame into nine equal parts with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. The points where these lines intersect are where the human eye is naturally drawn. By placing your subject at one of these intersections, you can create a balanced and engaging photo.

Look for Patterns and Symmetry

Aerial photography offers a unique perspective and the chance to spot patterns and symmetry that aren't visible from the ground. Look for these elements when composing your shot. A row of trees, the symmetry of a building, or the pattern of a winding road can all add visual interest to your photo and make it stand out in your portfolio.

Play with Angles

One of the benefits of aerial photography is the ability to capture shots from various angles. Experiment with different angles to find unique perspectives. Capturing the same scene from multiple angles can provide a variety of images for your aerial photography portfolio, increasing its appeal.

Keep it Simple

Sometimes, less is more. A simple, uncluttered composition can often have a greater impact than a busy one. Try to focus on one or two key elements in your shot. This simplicity can capture the viewer's attention and make your images more memorable.

Composition can make or break a photo, so take the time to master it. With good composition, your aerial shots will be much more than just pretty pictures. They'll be powerful visual stories. And with that, let's move on to our next topic - lighting.

Use of Lighting

Having a handle on composition, let's turn our attention to another vital aspect of aerial photography: lighting. It can drastically alter the mood and quality of your photographs, and thus, directly impact your aerial photography portfolio. Here are some lighting tips to consider:

Golden Hour Magic

Ask any photographer about their favorite time to shoot, and chances are they'll mention the golden hour. This time, just after sunrise or before sunset, casts a warm, soft light that can add a magical touch to your aerial shots. The long shadows can add depth and texture to your images, enhancing their appeal.

Harsh Noon Light? No Problem!

Shooting in the midday sun can be challenging because of the harsh light and deep shadows. But fear not! This can also be an opportunity to play with contrasts and create dramatic images. Just remember to adjust your camera settings accordingly to avoid overexposed or underexposed shots.

Night Photography

Don't limit your aerial photography to daytime only. Night photography can add a whole new dimension to your portfolio. Cities lit up at night can look stunning from above. But remember, shooting in low light conditions will require a slower shutter speed, so ensure your drone is stable to avoid blurry images.

Weather Conditions

Beyond the time of day, weather conditions can also affect the lighting of your photographs. Overcast days can provide soft, even lighting, while a stormy sky can create dramatic and powerful imagery. Don't shy away from shooting in diverse weather conditions; they can add variety to your aerial photography portfolio.

Remember, when it comes to photography, light is your paintbrush. Use it skillfully, and you can create stunning aerial photos that will enhance your portfolio. Next, we'll explore post-processing tips to help refine your images further.

Post-processing Tips

Now that you've captured some fantastic aerial shots, the next step in your aerial photography portfolio building journey is post-processing. Even the most stunning shots can benefit from a little editing magic. Let's delve into some useful tips:

Adjusting Exposure

Did your photo turn out a bit darker or brighter than you wanted? No problem. Most photo editing software allows you to adjust the exposure. The key is to aim for a well-balanced image where the details are not lost in shadows or highlights.

Color Correction

Colors can sometimes appear different in photos than they do in real life. Adjusting the color balance can help make your photos look more natural. Remember, subtlety is key – you want your images to look enhanced, not overly edited.

Cropping for Impact

Not all your shots will be perfectly composed in-camera. That's where cropping comes in. You can crop your images to improve composition, remove unwanted elements, or even to create a sense of drama or tension. But be careful not to overdo it— cropping too much can result in loss of image quality.


Finally, a bit of sharpening can help to bring out the details in your images. Most editing software provides a sharpening tool, but again, go easy. Over-sharpening can make your images look unnatural.

Post-processing is like the finishing touch on your aerial photographs. With these tips, you're well on your way to creating an impressive aerial photography portfolio. Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep shooting and editing, and watch your portfolio grow!

If you enjoyed learning about effective aerial photography and are interested in expanding your photography skills, consider checking out the 'Creating Your Beauty Photography Portfolio' workshop by Kayleigh June. While the focus of this workshop is on beauty photography, many of the techniques and insights shared can be applied to various photography genres, including aerial photography. Enhance your portfolio and elevate your skills by taking this workshop!