Shots That Take Off. Shooting Air Travel


posted on 6th of april, 2007

In the next two months I'll be traveling across the US more than once, going to Alaska and to several destinations in Europe. Travel destination images are plentiful but what about images of travel itself?
Businessman is waiting on the airport
If you have money to burn and can show that you are a professional with liability insurance, you are free to make arrangements to bring models and crew into the Seattle airport, for example. Also bring $500 for a location fee. If that isn't in your budget and your local airport doesn't cooperate, here are some tips to get better "grab" shots as you move around the world by air. If you are a stay at home shooter, many shots can be accomplished without being in an actual airport.
Airplane 3
Airport sign
The image on the left has been downloaded well over a hundred times. It is successful because the image is optimistic. Blue skies ahead. There are no logos or identify colors. (Although I would like to know that the blue tail was a Photoshop addition and not just part of a logo with the art removed.) Since the plane is in the midst of a successful takeoff, the concepts of new adventure and moving forward are implied.
You can usually shoot models outside the airport or just inside the terminal without a permit if you are discreet.
Save your old tickets and boarding passes to create an air travel still life.
Boarding Pass
Passport and Travel Documents
As in all stock photo shoots: consider the possible uses for air travel images before you go snappy crazy. There are users that want to show what a sophisticated, exciting, thrilling and EASY thing it is to get from A to B in the friendly skies. Alternatively is the need to illustrate just what a downright hassle, boring, temper tempting, hideous experience air travel can be. The savvy shooter can get both points of view within seconds of each other. See below:
Remember the last time you flew? First is the traffic jam at check in. I see several images of check-in lines on Dreamstime but unfortunately there are few or no suitcases in the shots. The message of "travel" is lost. Get a travel object (suitcase, ticket etc.) in each image. Otherwise you'll end up with an image of a bunch of feet that might be an interesting image but not for travel.
Ceremony
Air Traveler
Shoot legs. I don't mean the naked, more girly kind. An image of a man or woman from the hips down in business attire pulling a suitcase can be a compelling travel image. And it is probably the easiest one to get while you make your way around the airport. Remember to take care to not submit images of non-model released people that you "grab" at the airport if they are recognizable.
Images of airport security are difficult to snatch, as the area is crowded with non-model released people. Further it's probably one place that I recommend that you keep the camera under wraps. Below are a couple of images that resourceful contributors have made to illustrate or exaggerate security in these sensitive times.
X-ray
Security Scan
Departure lounges are often dominated by floor to ceiling windows. This backlit environment is perfect for capturing traveler's silhouettes (no need for model releases).
Two travelers silhouette
Making Good use of Time
There is one bright side to getting stuck in the airport: an image of a departure board showing all flights up and down as canceled is a good image that will be downloaded many times. Remember to shoot it so that the airline name/logo are not visible.
Airport Delay Sign
Departure board at Asian airport
Since 911 it has been difficult to get access to the cockpit but it's a sure winner if you can. Taking photos out the window of a plane is pretty common so jazz yours up a bit.
Boeing 737 cockpit
Globe trotter
Air travel isn't just for business and holidays. Capturing the anticipation of someone waiting to board the plane or saying goodbye at the airport, adds drama and emotion to travel images.
At the airport looking outside
Missing You
Resist the impulse to shoot inside the plane unless you capture an interesting image. Shots of backs of heads all facing forward can be just plain boring. Instead, photograph your traveling companion looking out the window or capture someone working on a laptop or even the famously awful food. (Remember your goal is to shoot the good, the bad and the ugly of air travel)
Airplane food
Ever wonder how movies are shot inside airplanes? In LA and Seattle and other cities film and still crews can rent half planes. These are sets that have all the trappings of an airplane with authentic seats and trays but ample room to show what appears to be a full-scale plane with passengers.
For those who want to indicate luxury and wealth private planes are a great icon.
Private jet
One of these days, I'll write about all the opportunities for using other kinds of transportation in your images.
Tips:
Remove all tail numbers, logos and logo colors from the exteriors and interiors of commercial airliners and private jets
Shoot legs and silhouettes to avoid the model release problem of shooting in public spaces
Using one of the small unobtrusive tripods like the gorillapod to stabilize your camera, have your model stand very still; use the self-timer and long shutter speed at F16 or so. The people in the airport will drop away in the same way they did in the early Daguerre image, Paris Boulevard. For your photo history bluffs: http://www.eyeconart.net/history/Photography/ParisBoulevard.htm
Depending on the situation at your local airport, go out there with a model or two and shoot in the areas in front of security.
Resist the impulse to shoot the backs of heads in the plane.
Don't bother with shots out the window unless there is an exceptional view.
If you use maps and globes in your travel images, remember: both are copyrighted and need to be significantly altered in the final image.
Turn a bad situation into a moneymaker: shoot long lines and boards indicating canceled and delayed flights.
Try to get cockpit shots.
Any image that speaks of heightened security is important.
Comments (16)

Posted by Thefinalmiracle on August 18, 2007
Sorry though there is an option to put an image it didn't work. The link to the image is - http://www.dreamstime.com/sunset-takeoff-image2705447
Posted by Thefinalmiracle on August 18, 2007
For some reason I had thought that this image of mine will be used in this article... but it was not! Tough Luck :( Anywayz the article is good but Ellen I would like to know what you think about this picture because a comment from an experienced person like would be really important for me.    Sunset Takeoff   
Posted by Saorsa on August 17, 2007
Air travel is OK but I hate it when you have to transfer flights.

   Image not available or id is incorrect.   

Posted by Cmcderm1 on August 17, 2007
Nice article - and great images.
Posted by Ellenboughn on April 18, 2007
"...an image of a departure board... Remember to shoot it so that the airline name/logo are not visible."

makes sense, yet I'm surprised to see so many images of these boards on here which clearly bear not the full airline names, but their respective codes, which is essentially the same thing... such as TG for Thai Airways. How is this different?

nice article though, thanks!

any insight on this issue?
The logos are the company trademark and we like to avoid that. As far as the codes go: those are more obscure and not a trademark. What we want to do is to avoid giving a company a bad name...so if you are showing a lot of canceled flights especially from one airline, I suggest that you crop only to the part of the board that doesn't ID the airlines. There may be images already on the site that go against these suggestions but as the site evolves, we just get better!
Posted by Alptraum on April 13, 2007
"...an image of a departure board... Remember to shoot it so that the airline name/logo are not visible."

makes sense, yet I'm surprised to see so many images of these boards on here which clearly bear not the full airline names, but their respective codes, which is essentially the same thing... such as TG for Thai Airways. How is this different?

nice article though, thanks!

any insight on this issue?
Posted by Ellenboughn on April 10, 2007
Hi everyone
what a great article by Ellen I really enjoy reading her advice and well done to DT for bringing such a knowlegble person on board to give us advice, a little thing about this particular blog, what are the rules and regulations about using things like passports in photos, whats allowed and whats not, would you advise us to contact our individual governments on what is allowed or is there a general concensus on this subject? As far as I know, there are no restrictions against taking photographs of US passports. They are commonly found in images in all the major collections. It has never been the subject of any of the legal columns in PACA nor has the issue ever been discussed when I've brought attorneys in to speak to agency staff who are reviewing images. So I think you are safe. But remember, I'm not a lawyer! PS thanks for the kind words of support.
Posted by Djaphotography on April 10, 2007
Hi everyone
what a great article by Ellen I really enjoy reading her advice and well done to DT for bringing such a knowlegble person on board to give us advice, a little thing about this particular blog, what are the rules and regulations about using things like passports in photos, whats allowed and whats not, would you advise us to contact our individual governments on what is allowed or is there a general concensus on this subject?
Posted by Bertrandb on April 10, 2007
I recommend small airports in remote, isolated areas. It's much easier to take pictures there without running into trouble with security, and the vistas can be highly interesting. This one was taken in an outpost in the Patagonia region of Argentina. The logos on the truck and fuselage were removed in post-prod.
 Flying off 
Posted by Alptraum on April 10, 2007
"...an image of a departure board... Remember to shoot it so that the airline name/logo are not visible."

makes sense, yet I'm surprised to see so many images of these boards on here which clearly bear not the full airline names, but their respective codes, which is essentially the same thing... such as TG for Thai Airways. How is this different?

nice article though, thanks!
Posted by Bobwyo on April 07, 2007
The link to the page with the Daugerrotype on it is great. I once made Stonehenge look deserted by making an exposure at f/128 (yes, with a view camera lens, it's possible) for a very long time. Nobody stopped for a shoeshine!

But even more important, every DTer should be required to read the page that the Daugerre photo links back to: the 'return to' page covers the history of photogrpahy and gives us a taste of some of the finest photographers' work.

Imagine how difficult it was for Jerry Uelseman or Man Ray to make those composite images: things we can do in Photoshop without even breaking a sweat.

Thanks for the link, Ellen.

Bob
Posted by Amitai on April 06, 2007
Well Written, but I doubt if any airport official will tolerate someone photographing, espcially with the security hipe.
Maybe in very big airports. It's definitely won't work in Israel.
Posted by Debljames on April 06, 2007
Don't forget to take images when traveling in bad weather
Hmm... good point. And good photo. :)
By the way, there's an old saying "There is no such thing as bad weather, there is only bad clothing choice". Or should I say "shutter speed choice"?
Anyway, thank you too for the tip. :)

hahaha...very good point indeed!
Posted by Maigi on April 06, 2007
Don't forget to take images when traveling in bad weather
Hmm... good point. And good photo. :)
By the way, there's an old saying "There is no such thing as bad weather, there is only bad clothing choice". Or should I say "shutter speed choice"?
Anyway, thank you too for the tip. :)
Posted by Debljames on April 06, 2007
Don't forget to take images when traveling in bad weather:

 Image not available or id is incorrect. 
Posted by Maigi on April 06, 2007
Great article!! Thanks! Makes me wanna fly...
Daguerre's photo is really cool. Great tip about longer shutter speeds. It is very useful, while shooting on the busy streets too.
Not a long time ago I bought a Julieanne Kost's book, "Windows Seat". Great inspiration. I totally love it. :)
I have some travel plans, so I'll keep your tips in my mind. Thanks!



Comments (16)

This article has been read 16357 times. 4 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: , Alptraum, Aleksandar Milosevic, Carolina K. Smith M.d., Cb34inc, Stephen Sweet, Ene, Thor Jorgen Udvang, Cohen Gilles, Dragan Trifunovic, Graphics1976, Karin Hildebrand Lau, Kuleczka, Maxexphoto, Mikael Damkier, Michael Smith, Nyul, Radu Razvan Gheorghe, Sculpies, Melanie Taylor, Dana Rothstein, Yakobchuk, Zimmytws.

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