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Up In the Air: Aerial Beach Photography from a Helicopter

By Hanssie on September 1st 2014

Today, as many of you are enjoying the Labor Day holiday (while you revel in the last day of wearing white for a while), perhaps lounging by a warm sandy beach, photographer Antoine Rose offers you another perspective of that sunbathing beach goer on the blanket next to you.


Red District – Miami

Rose, a Belgian photographer, took his first aerial photograph in 2002 from a helicopter and has now perfected his method of aerial photography – not with the use of a quadcopter, like most people these days, but he straps himself on the outside of a helicopter to get his incredible shots.

[REWIND: A List of Flight Maneuvers for Aerial Photography]


As you can imagine, shooting while strapped to the outside of a helicopter can present some challenges. Rose started shooting while seated inside the aircraft, but soon wanted a “better point of view.” After much testing over the last 12 years, Rose is still making tweaks here and there to his method after each flight.

What’s difficult is to mix all the tasks in real time, guiding the pilot, having the right lens, being sure that the camera settings are setup properly, concentrating on the light, the subject, the framing, discussing with the tower control to get clearance…
The process is evolving after each shoot. The best photos are yet to be made.


Turquoise – Miami

Beach Candies - Miami

Beach Candies – Miami

For the Up In the Air series, Rose has photographed the beach goers of those in the Hamptons and New York, and Miami. All the conditions have to be met to fly – the weather, air traffic control, availability of the helicopter and pilot, flight regulations, etc. The conditions must be favorable or Rose may get no results, as with a recent trip to Rio. He also photographs at night and in snowstorms for his other photo series.

There are obvious dangers to his photography and luckily, he’s only experienced minor incidents and a few scares. “I wouldn’t recommend anyone doing what I’m doing. The whole process is all but improvisation.  Anything can happen and if something goes wrong, chances of recovery are quite low due to the altitude It’s also very dangerous for the people that are just on the ground.”  


Orchestra – Miami


Reds Against Blues – Miami

It’s hard to believe that Rose uses very little Photoshop in his project and no composites. What you see is very near to what he sees from the helicopter. “For me, editing a photo is part of the creativity process the series, [but] “UP IN THE AIR” is not the result of a Photoshop composition. The hedonistic herd of beach-goers were just like that. To further enhance the reader experience, and add some abstraction,  I sometimes apply cosmetic cleaning of distracting elements and tweak the contrast and exposure.”

The patterns you see in the above photos are the results of the location. Miami beaches, which have numerous hotels, have brightly patterned umbrellas that allow for the symmetry you see in the above photographs. The beaches in New York and the Hamptons are more scattered and random.

Red Canopy - Hamptons & New York

Red Canopy – Hamptons & New York


Insectarium Path – Hamptons & New York


The Beach – Hamptons & New York

As Rose furthers his aerial projects, he is working with PHD engineers to help him develop his own stabilization equipment. You can see more of his work, including his aerial projects City, Sea, & Snow at exhibitions around the world and on his website, Facebook, and Twitter.


Snow in Saint Moritz

Below is a behind the scenes look at Antoine Rose in action on the helicopter.

Enjoy your Labor Day and if you hear a helicopter overhead, be sure to look up. You might see Antoine Rose pointing his camera down at you.

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jason Boa

    Fantastic images

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  2. Basit Zargar

    awesoem pictures

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  3. Michael Moe

    just fantastic!

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  4. Clare Havill

    Great images.

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  5. Hannes Nitzsche

    So cool! Love it!

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  6. mugur ic

    nice ideea, amazing photos

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  7. Mark Iuzzolino

    This would be so much fun. Great idea for some interesting shots.

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  8. Isaak Kwok

    Amazing! Great photos too! But it’s not something I will ever attempt. :)

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  9. Joseph Pesiri

    That was great. Thank you

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  10. Rafael Steffen

    It is amazing how much preparation and dedication behind these amazing pictures. I wonder if he has a sponser to pay for the helicopter ride.

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    • Hanssie

      From my research, I don’t think so. He talked about how costly it was to pull off this project. Labor of love most likely.

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