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When I first heard about aerial photography, I immediately thought that this was something I could never do. I’m not a pilot.  Airplane rental is expensive.  And I’m not even sure how to go about renting a plane.  It also just didn’t sound like something I’d be interested in. Then, I heard how much money you can make.  And I met Colette Eddy who assured me that this isn’t something she went to school for – she was a Psychology and Geography major in college. It’s something you can easily learn to do (without a pilot’s license).  And it’s something that can help fund your travels, too. Even if you’ve never considered aerial photography before, I think you’ll find my interview with Colette fascinating. Who knew you could make so much money with your camera? LORI: Hi Colette.  Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview and to join us in San Antonio at the Ultimate Money-Making Photography Workshop next month.  Can we start with a little background since you didn’t go to school for photography, and I think our readers would like to know how you got into aerial photography? COLETTE: I answered a classified ad for an aerial photography salesperson and worked for them for seven years. It was a family-owned business and they “canned” me. I decided to open Aerial Innovations when a client hunted me down and said he would give me all his accounts. LORI: So when you say “aerial photographer,” what does that mean exactly?  Can you give us an idea of your typical working day? COLETTE: Aerial photography can either be oblique or vertical, shot from an airplane or helicopter. No day is “typical.” I live on the weather channel, so knowing the sky conditions is a must. On the days that I’m not flying, I’m selling over the phone or attending schmooze fests! And really, the idea is simple – I hire a plane or helicopter to take me up.  I hang my camera out the window to take photographs.  And then I sell those photos to individuals or companies who want to buy them. LORI: On the phone you basically told me that you think you have one of the best jobs in the world because the sky is your office.  Can you tell us about some of the other things you like most about your job (aside from the money)? COLETTE: I love that it is never boring. I love that it’s flexible and that it’s not a wedding — if anything goes sideways, you can always return and reshoot the land or the building. I love that you can meet some truly incredible people. We even shot Derek Jeter’s house when it was being built. LORI: And can we talk about the money?  Where does it come from?  How much can someone expect to make? COLETTE: Money comes from the ability to sell and market your images. Our clients include developers, contractors, attorneys, city planning, and marketing firms. I opened in May 1987 and lost money. The next year I brought in $100,000 and the next year doubled it to $200,000. LORI: What about other benefits?  You mentioned before that you use your photography skills to land free travel, too.  Can you tell us a little about that? COLETTE: Since this is a niche market and highly unusual, it’s attractive to people in other countries. I have traded aerial photography in Aruba for a week of windsurfing lessons and also in the Dominican Republic. In St. Lucia, we were treated like rockstars — upgraded to “Hillside Villas,” champagne, sailboats, cruises, meals… LORI: Wow. That sounds great. What kind of equipment do you need? COLETTE:  You need a good digital camera. I like Nikon, but Canon is great, too (just personal preference). I use a Nikon d300 or d700. For aerial photography, your camera needs to be able to produce a large file 300 dpi when necessary and have a great lens—wide angle to close-up. LORI: Thanks Colette. See you in San Antonio! [Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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