Another post from the Vault.  Originally posted Feb 7th 2009, Greg gives a tip for building a photography portfolio.


Back seat of a Bell 206 flying search and rescue in Alaska, 1999Tip number two… Don’t be afraid to hitch hike!

I have always been fascinated with aviation, and still get excited whenever I get a chance to set foot in a helicopter or airplane.  Even flying commercially still makes me happy.  Maybe its because its one of the few places on the planet where I can totally relax.  It has to do (I think) with the fact that I am forced to just sit in one place.  We are flying to Argentina on Monday, and I am so looking forward to the 14 hours or so I will spend in the plane.  Seriously!  People think I’m nuts…

Anyway… Here’s the tip.   When your starting out, building a portfolio from the air is inherently problematic as it is a catch-22.  You cant get jobs with out an aerial portfolio, and you cant get an aerial portfolio without getting up in a helicopter or airplane.  And frankly, who has an extra $1200.00 per hour to hire a Bell 206 to fly you around the ball park in order to get some cool air to ground shots?

So here’s the trick:  Hitchhike!


Flying with “Wild Bill” into a gold mine in Alaska


Years ago, when I started thinking about shooting photographs for a living, I set out on a 30 day expedition through British Columbia and Alaska.  It was my first time to the state, and was fantastic.  Because Alaska is so vast, the only realy way to get around and see the country is by air.  So…. I would drive along and find small airports.  I would camp there that night, or crash in my truck in order to be awake and ready at the crack of dawn.  I would then get my cameras ready, and wait.


When someone would drive up and start prepping an airplane or helicopter, I would walk over, explain who I was and what I was doing (namely looking to tag along and shoot pictures,) and then beg them to let me ride along.  More times than not, I would be told to grab my stuff and jump in.

On that trip I flew on search and rescue missions looking for a lost pilot in a Jet Ranger, flew with engineers to fix a power station in a Eurocopter AS350, and flew with a crazy bush pilot named “Wild Bill” in his SC.7 Skyvan to deliver supplies into the largest gold find (at the time) in the state.


SC.7 Skyvan being loaded with mining supplies

So if you have a desire to hang on the skid of a helicopter shooting photos, you might want to give a start by using your thumb.  Good luck!

For more info on shooting aerial photos, check out the PAPA or Professional Aerial Photographers Assc.

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