West Coast Aerial Photography FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is aerial photography?
  2. Are there different types of aerial photography?
  3. Where do you fly?
  4. How many pictures do you take/How many pictures do I get?
  5. How do I get my aerial photos?
  6. How long does it take to shoot a property?
  7. Can I request a specific day or time to do a shoot?
  8. How often do you fly?
  9. Can I use Google Earth or Bing Maps for free?
  10. Who owns the photographs?
  11. How big can the photos be printed?
  12. How many megapixels is your camera?
  13. Do you fly a plane or helicopter and what is the difference between them?
  14. What about RC aircraft or blimps/balloons?
  15. Is there a volume discount for multiple properties?
  16. Do you fly and take pictures at the same time?
  17. Do you shoot film or digital?
  18. Do you have stock or already-shot photos?
  19. Are you insured?
  20. Do you fly at night?
  21. How close can you get to a building?
  22. How long after the shoot do I get the photos?
  23. What is the biggest area you can shoot?
  24. Can you label streets and stores?
  25. Do you keep a backup of my pictures in case I accidentally lose or delete them?
  26. I've heard the terms ortho-rectified and geo-referenced. What do they mean and do you offer them?





  1. What is aerial photography?

    Aerial photography is photography done from above. Usually it requires some sort of aircraft, which can include airplanes, helicopters, blimps, balloons and even satellites.

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  2. Are there different types of aerial photography?

    Yes. There are two distinct types of aerial photography, vertical and oblique.

    Vertical aerial photography is a straight-down, satellite view. Google Earth is a great example of vertical photography. This is best for planning purposes.

    Oblique aerial photography is an angled view, usually shot at about 45 degrees. Bing's Birds-Eye-View is a good example of this type of photography.

    Oblique photography is much better for seeing details than vertical photography because you can see both the tops and sides of buildings in oblique photos, but is not as good as vertical photography for planning purposes.


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  3. Where do you fly?

    We are based out of Los Angeles, California, but we do work nationwide.

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  4. How many pictures do you take/How many pictures do I get?

    We shoot many pictures of each site, usually upwards of 25-30 images.

    At a minimum, we shoot 8-points around (North, Northwest, West, Southwest, etc.) close up and 8-points around showing the site in relation to the surrounding area.

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  5. How do I get my aerial photos?

    After an aerial photo shoot we process the images and upload them to an online gallery. Once the upload process is complete, we will email you a link to the gallery with the low-resolution images for easy viewing or sharing and another link that will download a ZIP file with all the high-resolution images.

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  6. How long does it take to shoot a property?

    As long as the weather cooperates, we can usually have the site flown within a week. Files are then delivered digitally and can be online and available within a day of the shoot, or same day if necessary.

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  7. Can I request a specific day or time to do a shoot?

    Of course! Our schedule needs to be flexible to take advantage of good weather, so we can schedule flights to work with your needs.

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  8. How often do you fly?

    We usually fly around 3-4 times a week.

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  9. Can I use Google Earth or Bing Maps for free?

    Yes and no. While it is tempting (and relatively easy) to copy images from Google Earth or Bing Maps, Google has limits to commercial usage in its Terms. Also, Google doesn't own all the aerial imagery and these third-parties may require compensation for unauthorized use. Another thing to consider is that a lot of the imagery on Google and Bing tends to be old and the resolution may vary drastically.

    Since our shoots focus on your specific site, we are able to zoom in very close and cover the site all the way around, showing both close-ups and further away views.

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  10. Who owns the photographs?

    All photographs are copyrighted to West Coast Aerial Photography, Inc., but you will have non-exclusive usage to the photographs you hired us to shoot. If you need exclusive rights to your photographs, we'd be more than happy to discuss this option and come to a solution where everybody is happy.

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  11. How big can the photos be printed?

    Our photographs can be printed to just about any size. So far, we have printed images as large as 10 feet tall by 15 feet wide.

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  12. How many megapixels is your camera?

    We currently shoot a 21.1 megapixel digital camera with top-of-the-line lenses for maximum clarity. We also shoot in a RAW format to take advantage of the wide color range the camera is capable of capturing.

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  13. Do you fly a plane or helicopter and what is the difference between them?

    We fly an airplane, a single-engine Cessna 206 to be precise. The main difference between a helicopter and an airplane is that a helicopter can get a little closer to the ground, usually a bit less than 1000 feet above the ground, while an airplane needs to stay above 1000 feet. But a helicopter is much more expensive to operate and is much slower when traveling large distances. We prefer to shoot from an airplane for most of our shoots, due to the speed increase and lower operating costs. We have a wide range of lenses and use them to zoom in as close as we need.

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  14. What about RC aircraft or blimps/balloons?

    We do not use RC (radio controlled) aircraft or blimps/balloons. RC aircraft are not legal to fly over populated areas (According to the FAA, "Currently, there are no means to obtain an authorization for commercial UAS operations in the NAS." - Source). Here is a PDF with more information on Unmanned Aircraft Operations in the U.S.

    Also, RC aircraft and blimps/balloons require much more time to transport to and setup on each site, which is not the best use of time or resources.

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  15. Is there a volume discount for multiple properties?

    Yes. If you have multiple sites within a close proximity to each other or aren't in a rush and allow us to bundle your shoot with another shoot, we can work with you to keep the costs down.

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  16. Do you fly and take pictures at the same time?

    No, I have a copilot fly with me. This is for both safety reasons and because I take better pictures when I can concentrate on taking the photos.

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  17. Do you shoot film or digital?

    We shoot a high-resolution digital camera.

    When we started we only shot film because the quality of the digital cameras was lacking. When digital cameras became better, we began to use them exclusively. We stay updated with the latest technology and methods so that we can provide the bestproducts possible.

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  18. Do you have stock or already-shot photos?

    Yes, I have a stock website (www.markholtzman.com) where I display some of my favorite aerial photos. Feel free to explore the site and let me know if anything interests you. I add new pictures all the time.

    We are also a reseller for Landiscor, which specializes in current satellite imagery.

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  19. Are you insured?

    Yes. We carry million-dollar aerial photography insurance.

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  20. Do you fly at night?

    Yes, we do fly at night and at sunset/sunrise when we need to.

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  21. How close can you get to a building?

    Legally, we're required to fly at least 1000 feet above the ground. Our high-resolution cameras and lenses enable us to zoom as close as we need to.

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  22. How long after the shoot do I get the photos?

    We are usually able to process and upload the photos to an online photo gallery within a few hours. Once the upload is complete, the high-resolution files will be zipped and emailed to you.

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  23. What is the biggest area you can shoot?

    We are able to photograph sites that are virtually any size, within reason. We can shoot sites that range from a single house to several city blocks and larger.

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  24. Can you label streets and stores?

    Yes. We can work with you to add labels and logos to any of your images.

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  25. Do you keep a backup of my pictures in case I accidentally lose or delete them?

    Yes, we keep files readily accessible for 6-months after the shoot, in case of accidental deletion or loss. After that time, the files are moved into long-term storage and are no longer readily accessible, but should be available if needed. Even though we strive to keep all our pictures, please don't rely on us as your exclusive back up, just in case.

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  26. I've heard the terms ortho-rectified and geo-referenced. What do they mean and do you offer them?

    Ortho-rectification and geo-referencing are methods that allow vertical images to be used in mapping software. When a picture is geo-referenced or ortho-rectified, each pixel in the image is given x&y coordinate values that exist in real life.

    The primary difference between the two systems is that ortho-rectification is done by a licensed photogrammetrist and is guaranteed to be within a certain level of accuracy, while geo-referencing can be done by anyone using specialized software and the level of accuracy may vary.

    If you just want your vertical image to line up in Google Earth you can probably go with geo-referencing in most situations, but if you want to be able to take detailed measurements, you would be looking at an ortho-rectification solution.

    We offer a basic level of geo-referencing, as there are varying degrees of accuracy with both geo-referenced and ortho-rectified images. We'd be more than happy to discuss the various options and see which will most suite your needs.

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