Key Takeaways

  1. Aerial photography involves capturing images from airborne platforms such as aircraft, drones, balloons, and even kites.
  2. It provides unique bird’s-eye view images of landscapes and surface objects, distinct from air-to-air photography.
  3. The origins of aerial photography date back to the late 19th century, with early pioneers like Nadar and James Wallace Black.
  4. Aerial photography became pivotal during World War I, aiding military reconnaissance and cartography efforts.
  5. Captain John Moore-Brabazon’s innovations, including stereoscopic techniques, significantly advanced aerial photography’s efficiency and application.

Aerial photography, the art of capturing images from airborne platforms, has evolved into a captivating visual medium. From fixed-wing aircraft to drones, balloons, and kites, this practice provides a unique perspective on landscapes and objects below. It is distinct from air-to-air photography, which involves capturing images of other aircraft in flight. Aerial photography’s history traces back to the 19th century when pioneers like Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, also known as “Nadar,” captured images of Paris from a balloon. The practice gained momentum during World War I when aerial cameras proved invaluable for reconnaissance and cartography.

The innovations of Captain John Moore-Brabazon in 1915 marked a turning point. He invented a practical aerial camera that could be triggered from the aircraft’s floor, enhancing efficiency and accuracy. Moore-Brabazon also introduced stereoscopic techniques, enabling depth perception in aerial images. As World War I progressed, aerial photography became a pivotal military tool, with both sides capturing vast areas to improve mapping and strategy. This practice has come a long way, shaping our understanding of the world from above and influencing fields from cartography to art and environmental monitoring.


Aerial View of Paris, France. © Yann Arthus-Bertrand


New York City Aerial View | © Keith Sherwood, 2012


Barcelona Aerial View | © Source: All that is interesting


Chicago Aerial View


Hong Kong Aerial View


Shangai Aerial View | © Mark Siegemund


Athens, Greece


Jakarta, Indonesia. Via Tom Fisk


Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan


Gloomy Riga cityscape on foggy day

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