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Life on the Edge: Bill Yates’ Aerial Photography

Curators’ corner

Life on the Edge: Bill Yates’ Aerial Photography

Southeast Toyota Westlake Facility - Jacksonville, FL

Imagine hanging out of a helicopter, several thousand feet in the air, tasked with capturing aerial photographs while violent wind gusts, deafening propeller noise and the constant threat of plummeting to your death defy any notion of common sense.

For photographer Bill Yates, this is just another day at the office.

The North Florida-based photographer has made a career out taking aerial photographs for regional landscaping companies and non-profits. While his work undoubtedly falls in the realm of commercial photography, the brilliant images he has taken over his career deserve merit on their own.

Yates is no stranger to the skies. His father introduced him to light aircraft in the 1950s and he flew for the Navy during Vietnam – Naval aviation. During his shoots, he hires a pilot to steer the aircraft – a plane, helicopter or blimp – and the two work in tandem to find the perfect aerial shot.

According to Yates, knowledge of aviation is just as important as photography skills in this unique field of work.

“Aerial photography is a partnership between the photographer and the pilot. If you don’t have a pilot (always a high-time pilot) who will work with you to set up the shot, then what you get is just a fly-by pic. It’s like choreographing the shot in the air — between me directing altitude, direction and speed, and the pilot making it happen so I can get the shot,” Yates told PetaPixel.

Check out a collection of his stunning aerial photos below and visit his website to see more.

Desert Ranch, Legend Trail, AZ

Cows drinking out of boats as water troughs, Central Florida

Jacksonville, FL -3000 ft. Aerial

All images © Bill Yates

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