Aviation Photography: Photographing Your Business Aircraft’s Exterior

Aviation Photography: Photographing Your Business Aircraft's Exterior

This is a post by guest author Jay Davis, owner of Jay Davis Aviation Photography. Jay was asked to contribute to this blog because of his expertise in aviation photography. Any thoughts expressed below are entirely Jay’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc.

If you currently have an aircraft for sale, lease or charter and want the most appealing photographs you can possibly have to highlight the beauty of it – both interior and exterior – there are several factors you need to consider to get the best photographs you can.

Today, I’ll share some important tips for getting the perfect picture for the exterior of your aircraft.

1. Backgrounds and foregrounds

If your aircraft is outside the hangar when you photograph it, there are numerous factors that you need to think about: The most important of these are the background behind the aircraft and the foreground in front of it.

What kind of background is behind the aircraft? Is there a hangar, an FBO fuel sign, other aircraft or even equipment vehicles parked behind it? Such items can distract from the main focus of your photograph: your aircraft!

The foreground is another factor to consider. Are there orange safety cones in front of it? Are there chocks under the wheels that are visible, or possibly a tug and tow bar still attached to the aircraft? In order to have a more appealing photograph, try removing the orange safety cones, the chocks on the wheels (if possible) and the red safety flags and/or ribbons on the pitot tubes and antennas.

You will often face situations where it is difficult to get a "perfect" background for your aircraft. A professional aviation photographer should have the necessary skillset to remove distractions in the editing process. See some examples below:

Jay Davis Aviation Photography

2. Weather conditions

There are times when a photography session can be cancelled if the weather doesn’t permit. However, you can still photograph the aircraft inside the hangar and, with post-production editing, make the aircraft look as if it were photographed outdoors on a beautiful day – or even at night, giving a more dramatic style to your aircraft photograph that will draw your target audience into your advertisement or brochure.

Jay Davis Aviation Photography

Note: The example shows the "before" that was taken inside due to bad weather, and the final product that has eliminated those issues.

3. Lighting is important

Lighting conditions are also a large part of a successful photography session with an aircraft. I recommend scheduling the session for either very early morning or late afternoon, as these two time periods provide the best possible lighting conditions for the aircraft. You need to avoid, if at all possible, shooting an exterior of an aircraft between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., due to the poor angle of the sun to illuminate your aircraft.

The sun should always be behind the aircraft for exterior photographs. You never want to have the aircraft in front of the sun, as this leads to a "backlit" photograph, in which your aircraft will either look dark or – even worse – like a silhouette.

Jay Davis Aviation Photography

Note: The above example shows both bad lighting and background issues.

Stay tuned for next time

As you can see, many factors must be considered in order to produce the desired effect to showcase the beauty of the aircraft. If you are working with a professional aviation photographer, he or she will be able to provide recommendations on how to position your aircraft for the best possible photographs. Even more difficult is interior shooting, which will be discussed in a future article.


If you have any questions about this article or need assistance with photographing an aircraft, contact me at jaydavisphoto@gmail.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.