A certified pilot turned Instagram star took these stunning aerial photos around the world

GNP2Adam Senatori

Ever since he was a kid, Adam Senatori  dreamed of being a pilot.

After fulfilling that dream by becoming a commercial airline captain, Senatori was unfortunately laid off and forced to take a buyout. Faced with a new challenge, Adam looked for other opportunities and began making the transition from commercial aviator to commercial photographer.

Senatori tells Business Insider that it was his iPhone that first sparked the idea to take pictures from the air. “After I left the airlines and was flying for fun, I started taking some quick shots with my iPhone and that’s when it triggered that I had something unique. I could fly, or had friends that could fly me, and take photos,” he says.

Through the Instagram account he started five years ago, Senatori’s unique images have found a new, wider audience. He was one of the first photographers that the company featured on the Instagram blog, and he’s gained around 850,000 followers. While social media usually moves at lightning speed, Senatori’s workflow is usually much slower, as he usually shoots with a Medium Format Digital Hasselblad H4D.

Don’t worry though, he never pilots and photographs at the same time. “Anytime I’m in the air, we either take the windows off, or if it’s a helicopter, we always take the doors off so I that I can have a clean shot,” he told us.

Check out some of his jaw-dropping images below, with a selection of quotes from our conversation with him.

Senatori lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where he grew up. “With O’Hare Airport in the backyard, I can pretty much go anywhere in the world by driving an hour and a half. It’s just easy to stay here, it’s easy living,” he says.

Senatori explains that both of his parents were involved in the arts, adding, “We had a very creative household. Every day was drawing or learning or making something. That was incredibly instrumental in what I do now.”

As a child, Senatori ‘s mother taught him about art history. That rich, early education has served Adam as a major inspiration.

It took almost a year for Senatori to get a handle on working with the Hasselblad, which can be very complicated and technical. Now, he’s using the camera for commercial clients, as well.

Senatori started shooting 20 years ago with his very first digital camera, the tiny Sony Cybershot.

Senatori usually shoots in the mornings and evenings to capture the right light. He doesn’t discriminate when it comes to seasons. “Each season has it’s own unique appeal to me. I love winter, the starkness of it is really cool. Fall is gorgeous, and summer, this time of year is really nice too. The photos have a lot of life and depth to them,” he says.

When he’s up in the skies, Senatori is especially attracted to urban areas. He loves, “How it’s laid out, how it’s structured, or lack thereof sometimes,” he says.

Los Angeles is Senatori’s favorite urban location to shoot because of its varied landscape. However, he’s quick to mention it’s not necessarily his favorite place to visit on foot.

When it comes to sweeping landscapes, Senatori loves Montana, especially Glacier National Park.

Google Earth and Maps helps Senatori find good locations to capture.

Every two months, Senatori’s back the air, going to a major destination. He’s already had an exciting 2015, visiting places from Paris to Dubai.

While he credits Instagram for much of his exposure, Senatori notes the platform is, in many ways, counter to how he generally works, which is more “methodical and slow,” he says.

Over the years Senatori has noticed that his work has gotten cleaner and more “CGI-looking,” as he puts it. “That’s kind of how I want things to appear, almost like a map in a way,” he told us.

Adam still flies for fun, but finds being the passenger and shooting to be a more rewarding process.

When asked if flying lived up to his childhood expectations, Senatori replies, “Definitely. There’s no doubt. It’s actually beyond what I imagined.”

When asked if flying lived up to his childhood expectations, Senatori replies, “Definitely. There’s no doubt. It’s actually beyond what I imagined.”
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