Various Types of Aerial Photography

You might feel that aerial photography can be defined easily as taking a picture from the air. But, while this may partially be true, there are a number of different categories of it which are necessary to understand. Also, there’s a large variety of different photographic methods which aren’t so obvious.

Main branches

Oblique – These aerial images are taken from aircraft regardless of the type. The subjects are seen at angles, and the images are perceived perfectly by the eye as having depth and definition. This is usually used for the promotion of work, archaeology, aerial construction reports, etc.

Vertical – This is called overhead sometimes. They are taken directly from an overhead position looking vertically downwards. They produce flat images just like maps. They are usually meant for land use, flood risk assessment, mapping projects, scientific studies, and farm evaluations.

You should know that both these methods were mainly developed with military applications in mind.

Nowadays, a lot of alternative techniques of photography are claiming to be the same as aerial photography when the truth is, they are nothing but elevated photography. They use different equipment to raise the camera to elevated positions. Some methods use telescopic poles or portable raised platforms. But, this is not aerial photography in the traditional sense.


Forestry- Photos with filters and colour film can help identify varieties and densities of trees in remote areas.

Archaeological explorations – They can provide information on objects which aren’t visible to ground observers.

Meteorologists – At high altitudes, cameras on vehicles can help provide weather data.

Military – This is the greatest use of aerial photography. The need for target data and military intelligence is responsible for all the advances in the strategies of this photography.

Geology – It allows geologists to explore large areas of land from the air without much effort.