An aerial photographer is a person who specializes in taking photographs from an elevated position. These kinds of photographs may be taken from just a few stories above the ground. They may also be taken from great heights with the assistance of an airplane or helicopter.
An aerial photographer may take photographs simply for the sake of beauty, composition, and art. It is common for photographers who do this kind of work to compile thematic collections and publish them in the form of a book. Collections may be gathered around such themes as geography, skylines, bridges, or specific kinds of environments such as marshlands or certain mountain ranges.
In addition to taking photographs for the purpose of making art, an aerial photographer may also work for commercial purposes. This kind of work may include taking photographs for a stock photo library, which is a kind of library that holds the rights to a large collection of images and leases those rights to people who need them for print and web publishing. Sometimes an aerial photographer will retain the rights to his photographs and lease them for commercial use independently of a stock image library, but this is much less common.
A commercial aerial photographer may also take photos of buildings, land features, or landscapes that are a part of real estate ventures. If a developer were working to create a new community of housing and retail spaces along an undeveloped waterfront, for example, he might hire an aerial photographer to take photographs of the area for a number of purposes. These photographs may be used for planning purposes and for surveying the land. The photographs might also be used as a backdrop for architectural renderings which would be presented to investors and potential buyers of the developed property.
Real estate companies that are working with existing structures will sometimes hire an aerial photographer to take images of properties that they are working to sell or rent. The kinds of properties that would be photographed by an aerial photographer are usually very large estates worth many millions of dollars or luxury apartment buildings that have units for dozens of families. It is only in these sorts of cases that the cost of hiring an aerial photographer is justified by the profit that the real estate company will make on the sale or rental of the photographed properties.