Updated: Oct 28, 2022
Airlines often show the shiny and glamorous side of travel, selling the experience. However, showing the workings of an airport and the operation side of things is really exciting and important to show too. This is where a commercial photographer such as myself comes in.
Ever wanted to know what happens with all the cargo, how they sort it, where it’s stored and moved around to finally make it on the plane? Photography can help tell that story, and, give the people doing the heavy work a voice and a face too.
People love to see behind the scenes photos of what goes on in a lot of situations in a business, but to see what goes on in an airline or another type of aviation business is even more exciting.
I’ve shot a lot of images in the IAG Cargo area of London Heathrow Airport showing the things that go on there. Like the animals that get flown on a plane in the hold area of the aircraft.
It’s quite impressive what can be on your flight without you knowing about it!
A good commercial and aviation photographer knows the rules of the airport, where they can and can’t go, how close up they can get to something, what they can photograph and what they can’t. The rules and differences between shooting airside and landslide etc, and also having the correct insurances to be allowed to photograph at a live operating airport.
There’s a lot to keep in mind when building a complete set of usable images for an aviation company.
One thing is the cultural differences you need to keep in mind on a photoshoot.
For instance, when shooting a food and drinks service image for an airline, the photographer should know to shoot the scene with a glass of champagne, and then swap the alcohol out for a soft drink for the Middle Eastern routes images.
There’s a whole load of these little cultural things that you need to know when photographing commercial images for aviation. So do your research before you photograph everything, otherwise your photographs will only be able to be used for a very limited number of scenarios, and the client might not be too happy with that!
I often shoot aviation projects for the marketing or communications teams for an airline or aviation business. The photos my clients tend to be after are more people focused images rather than photos of the aircrafts themselves.
There's a load of enthusiastic aviation photographers out there that will provide aircraft photos for free to the airlines for them to use, so the main photos I tend to take are of the staff themselves. After all, it's people that run the airline, keep us safe, look after our luggage, and fly us to our destinations.
Another thing to keep in mind is just how fast paced photography at an airport is.
I was once doing a shoot on board to show the food and drinks service, and I think we went through 5 aircraft in the space of 2 hours!
Aircraft (especially shot haul aircraft) are often called for service very frequently, and at short notice. So you have to set the scene, light it, direct it, and shoot it very quickly.
You might only get 3 pictures in before you have to pack everything down and move to the next plane because the aircraft you're on needs to go to the terminal for a flight.
That can definitely be a bit stressful and disrupt your flow of work, but it's all part of the excitement of being an aviation photographer.
You just have to have your mind prepared for it and assume it's not going to go exactly to plan. If you're prepared mentally for it, it won't really bother you too much and you'll have a great shoot!
So, why hire an aviation photographer for your airline or aviation business?
Well, there's a number of reasons:
For marketing and advertising. - Aviation is a highly completive business, so getting your airline in front of potential passengers and building a relationship with the customers is a must, especially in more challenging economic times.
To show all the people involved in running the business, making your brand more personable and relatable.
For general internal communications between colleagues.
General website usage, as images help support a page and make it more interesting.
Engaging social media content.
For press releases and general good and bad news that will go out. Having a bespoke supporting image to go with any news that will go out about the airline is very useful.
I could go on and on, so will leave this blog here and update it where and when I get some free time.
I hope that's been somewhat informative and helps you understand about commercial photography when it comes to shooting an airline or aviation business.
If you're interested in working with me to produce some bespoke images, then get in touch via the details below.
Stuart Bailey | Photographer
Phone: (+44) 07762 900 132
Location: London, UK