Interview - Stephen Brookes

Interview: Stephen Brookes, Airview Aerial Photography: 4th June 2004

1 What is your background?

Born and bred in New Zealand - spent my childhood in Central Otago and attended High School and University in Auckland in the 70s. My career path has been eclectic to say the least and rather than write a novel I will lay it out in year bullet points:

1979 - Left University and teachers training college to become a ski instructor
1980 - Took up playing music to supplement income
1981 - Started competing in pro-am ski events with some success.
1981-1983 - Traveled and lived in a variety of ski resorts in the US.
1984-1989 - Worked as a professional skier in film (both still and movie), Ski guiding and freestyle competitions all whilst pursuing a developing music career.
1989 - Arrived in Australia with my band and started touring and recording with the aid of a PolyGram Publishing deal.
1994 - Studied sales and marketing and held various positions in media and publishing. Companies worked for include, Peter Issacson Publications, APN News and Media and Reed Business Publishing. Became involved with the marketing and sales of the fledgling Airview Aerial Photography.
2002 - Purchased Airview Aerial Photography from its previous owner and moved offices to our present position in Manly NSW.

2 How has the company developed over time?

Airview has changed a lot since its inception. The concept of the original owner was to offer the public a range of framed or unframed prints of their property and set up display and ordering areas in local shopping malls. The idea met with limited success but did indicate a modest opportunity. Later we had door-to-door salespeople offering pre-shot examples and again found a reasonable market. Not until we studied the real estate industry did we discover a large sustainable opportunity. Once we had established ourselves amongst the top Sydney real estate agencies our credibility rose sharply and the company grew to its current turnover levels.

3 What are Airview Aerial Photography's services?

Our main services are:
i) Low level oblique (1000-1500ft) aerial photographic contract work. This work is done using both helicopter and fixed wing platforms and we operate nationally. What makes us a compelling choice in this service area is the speed at what we can deliver work and the extremely competitive pricing of our contract packages. Both these benefits are a direct consequence of being an "aerial" photography only operation.

ii) The supply and sale of images via our huge fully searchable online stock library. We currently have over 1300 high quality images posted and upload new stock most days. The reason we feel we have had the success with the stock library is the simplicity of our site and search engine, the competitive pricing we have brought to the market, and the simple purchase options offering one-off use, royalty free and exclusive use licenses.

4 What are the main advantages of "stock" footage?

The two main advantages are 1, the ability to view and choose the shot you require without having to wait for an aerial contract to be completed and delivered; and 2, the speed at which the stock image can be delivered. In normal circumstances a designer can choose a shot from our online library and be working on the high resolution image 5 minutes later. Technology has helped Airview make this an incredibly fast and painless exercise.

5 Other than real estate, what other verticals are you pursuing?

We have been really focusing on Developers of late and Architects, Project Managers and Construction companies are the areas of the market in which we are currently enjoying growth. We have some significant goals in these areas but we are making sure we do our homework. This allows us to provide relevant and cost effective photographic solutions for these industry groups, which is, after all, what Airview Aerial Photography is all about.

6 How does the internet assist your business?

The internet really provides us an excellent way of showcasing our photographic stock, abilities, strengths and attitudes to not only the local market, but indeed the entire world. is enjoying a growing public and commercial awareness and we are working hard to add to, and improve our online presence.

7. What are your main interests outside of Airview Aerial Photography?

It's funny but flying has been an obsession since my earliest memory. My first and only career decision was to become a commercial jet pilot but an eye test at fourteen revealed a colour deficiency in some reds and greens. This, at the time, effectively ruled out any chance of a commercial pilot's license. After trying drafting and teaching on for size I decided at nineteen to become a ski bum and this innocuous decision led on to a myriad of fun choices that have to date, made up what could be loosely referred to as, my career path.

These days my interests outside of the business tend to rotate around my beautiful and growing family. I love to Windsurf in the summer and radio control flying has become a hot topic around our house. My daughter is somewhat ambivalent but my boys love to get out and fly our planes and combat wings on a Sunday afternoon.

An underlying passion over the years has been my interest in cars. It started when in my teenage years I helped build a 1937 Ford pickup hotrod and restored a 1934 five window Ford coupe. I later purchased and rodded a 1949 Ford pickup and traveled the length and breadth of New Zealand in it. Lately I have been the proud owner of an 89 Corvette convertible. The Corvette was a total joy to own, work on and show but I reluctantly sold her lately to make way for a new build project. My eldest son, Joshua, is now fourteen and shares my keen interest in exotic vehicles so we are about to start work on a 66 Shelby Cobra kit. We are both keen to race it once complete so the deal is, if he helps build it, he gets to help race it! Fair deal I recon!

Skiing has also become a major family pastime, which also serves to keep us broke. In fact if there was ever a compelling reason for building a successful business it has to be the huge cost of raising a family these days!


Editors note: A look inside the world of aerial photography, and one of the true innovators in the industry. We look forward to a great deal more collaboration with Stephen and his team.


Airview Online Photography


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Sydney Airport

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Department of Defence

World Airports

Bureau of Meteorology

Getaway - Channel 9

The Sydney Morning Herald - Travel

Fairfax - Walkabout