The first aerial photo was taken in 1858 in a suburb of Paris by photographer and aeronaut Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, known as Nadar. Passionate about aerial navigation, Nadar inspired Jules Verne for his novel From the Earth to the Moon, whose hero is named Ardan (an anagram of Nadar). Unfortunately, Nadar’s aerial photos are no longer in existence today. The oldest aerial view visible today dates back to 1860 and is a photo of the city of Boston taken by American James Wallace Black.

Plage de Trezmalaouen par temps nuageux, Finistre

The military quickly adopted this photographic technique to observe territories at low and high altitudes. In the civilian domain, aerial photography also allowed for impressive advances in the cartography field; it also has a following in archeology, for the exploration and location of ancient sites.

aerial view of the fall colors of new england


Namib Desert, dunes of Sossusvlei, bird's-eye view

But it’s especially in the documentary and artistic fields that aerial photography has made an impact, with magnificent views of the monuments, cities, countrysides, and wild or desert landscapes of our planet. Photographer Yann Arthus-Bertran offered one of the most beautiful accounts in his book Earth From Above, a worldwide best seller. According to the daily newspaper Le Monde, it’s the best-selling illustrated book in history, with 3.5 million copies sold.

Heart-shaped pond in a tropical forest

Aerial views could just as well offer a broader scope to your own creative projects! Fotolia offers thousands of magnificent images, all taken by professional photographers both during the day and at night from planes, helicopters, aerostats, microlights, and drones.

Aerial View of Egremni Beach, Lefkada Island, Greece

Our catalog is also well stocked with aerial videos. On our blog, for example, we’ve recently introduced stunning portfolios from production studios Videofort and HotelFoxTrot. Many other professional contributors display their aerial view video clips on Fotolia.

To explore our aerial view images, you can of course type the name of a site or city followed by the word “aerial.” Another solution: our image bank has a category dedicated to photos of aerial views of landscapes. As always, use our search engine options to select, for example, panoramic or square photos, or photos whose prices don’t exceed the amount of Fotolia Credits that you indicate.

Moissonneuse batteuse vue du ciel

Use Lightbox Fotolia and create personalized galleries to save a direct link to your favorite images and to classify them.


Remember you can also easily share one of your personal galleries with other people, even if they don’t have a Fotolia account.