>>>“I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this.”

“I can’t believe I’m getting paid for this.”

Jon Bowles has combined his passion for photography with his profession as a pilot. He knows he has “a job with some of the best views in the world”.
s a teenager, Jon Bowles spent hours taking photographs in Africa, where he used to live. But when he moved to the United Kingdom, he put his passion to one side. It was some years later when he bought a small, compact camera. “Why did I stop?” he asked himself. From then on, he kept up his re-found hobby, which he began combining with his job as a pilot. On a flight to the Alps, photographing Mont Blanc, he realised he had the chance to capture views that few people get to see. “I then decided that I wanted to photograph some of the amazing landscapes I flew over. This led me to buy a DSLR, and a few years later, an infrared camera”. And that was where it all started.

How do you define yourself as a photographer?

My main genre is landscapes, but I also enjoy architectural photography, infrared and low-light photography.

: Greenland is very impressive from the air.

What attracts you about taking photographs from the air?

Originally, I decided I did not want to finish my flying career without a pictorial record of the places I had flown over. I strived to produce not just records of my flights, but to produce artistic representations of the amazing scenery I am privilged to see in my job as a pilot.

How do you feel when you are alone, in the clouds, with the camera?

The feeling of flying free above the clouds is amazing. Of course, the flight is under radar control, and I have another pilot in the flight-deck with me. Sometimes I think to myself, “I can’t believe I am getting paid for this”.

Is it safe to do that?

Flight security is one of the issues Jon Bowles discusses in his blog. On his ‘website’
, the pilot and photographer shares some of his galleries and talks about his work. Besides underlining that it is safe, he says taking photographs during his flights keeps his energy up.

What complications arise when taking photographs during a flight?

Turbulence makes it difficult to keep the camera steady. You also need a good camera, and have to shoot in RAW. The windows also need to be clean. As the windows are very thick laminated glass, distortion can be a problem; I generally try to shoot through the central parts of the windows, and often have to crop out the edges to remove blurred parts of the image.

Do you have any special memories from your flights?

On one of my first flights with an infrared camera, I took a panorama of part of the Ganges Delta, and could see through the water to the bottom of the river. As infrared was still a new type of photography for me, I assumed I would be able to get similar photographs. In more than 20 flights over the same area, I never managed to get the same view through water.

Which places have most impressed you during your journeys?

Two places have particularly impressed me from the air. One is the Karakoram mountain range, and the other is the Ganges River Delta, which has been particularly productive in aerial infrared photography. Greenland is also very impressive from the air (when it is not covered in cloud!).

So, do you think you have the job with the best views?

Certainly, I have a job with some of the best views in the world. My dream would be to fly in a small aircraft over all the major river deltas of the world. How many other people get to look out of the window while at work and see constantly changing stunning scenery?


Jon Bowles says few photographers produce the type of images he does. Besides being an aerial and street photographer, he considers himself a storm hunter. He plays with shutter speed and shooting in bursts to immortalize the movement of lightning.

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