As summer approaches, a visual feast of watersport activities decorates the horizon. From surfers catching a wave to other magnificent displays of athleticism, aerial watersport photography is all about defying photographic boundaries. With this in mind, this article presents some tips about shot composition, camera settings, and creative inspiration, helping you create stunning watersport aerial photography.


What You Need to Know Before Flying Over Water


DJI does not encourage beginner pilots to fly over water. Always operate your drone within your visual line of sight and avoid flying near crowds of people, boats, vehicles, and other large objects. For more information, please read how to fly safely over water.

Before we hit the waves, let’s take a quick look at the best watersports for aerial photography.


5 Watersports Perfect for Aerial Photography



The combination of athleticism and natural scenery makes surfing one of the most exciting watersports to capture. From above, you can experiment with shot compositions and gain a different perspective of the action below.

Surf ©Andrea Morangiu | Equipment: Phantom 4 Pro

Water Rafting

Water rafting is a thrilling adventure that gives you the opportunity to capture dramatic shots of nature.

Rafting – Tara – Montenegro ©Miloš Tomašević | Equipment: Phantom 3 Pro


With aerial photography, you can capture the enchanting contrast of the blue sea and the striking colors of the parasail wing.



Kayaking offers an excellent chance for you to capture beautiful coastlines, beaches, and wildlife from an intimate perspective.

Kayaking ©Chris Schmid 

Jet Skiing

You can capture interesting wave patterns from above as a jet ski glides over the water.

 Jet Your Way! ©Ivan Masalitin | Equipment: Phantom 4 Pro

Now that we’ve discovered some watersports and taken a look at some examples, let’s dive deeper and learn about some creative ideas to improve your watersport photography.


5 Watersport Photography Ideas



The adventure continues as the sun sets. An excellent way to capture this motif is to capture a subject with the backdrop of the sunset in the background. In the example below, a Mavic 2 Pro was positioned to capture both the subject and the sunset in the background.

Apocalyptic Sunset Surfer I ©PHLY Images | Equipment: Mavic 2 Pro

Another great option is to capture the light of a sunset on the surface of the water. Using this technique, your subjects appear as silhouettes in the image.

SUP in swamp ©Arvids Baranovs | Equipment: Mavic 2 Pro


Take advantage of reflections on the water surface to create unique compositions. With sports like canoeing and kayaking, you can often come across stunning natural backdrops as you glide through the water. Position your drone high in the air to simultaneously emphasize the reflection and make your subjects even smaller. With a bit of practice, you can achieve beautiful results.

Saint Row ©Mauro Pagliai | Equipment: Mavic Air


The energy of the ocean can be felt through the waves, and from an aerial perspective, you can showcase the tremendous might of Mother Nature. Experiment with lighting conditions, reflections, and shadows to create your special moment.


Go Surf!! ©Andrea Marongiu | Equipment: Phantom 4 Pro


With an aerial perspective, you can also track the movement of your subject, which produces a shot with expressive marks across the water surface. This is especially useful for taking images of watersport vehicles.

It’s a bird, It’s a plane. No it’s a boat ©brad.deel | Equipment: Mavic Pro


3 Camera Settings for Watersport Aerial Photography


Speed & Action: Shutter Speed

Watersport activities are packed with fast-paced action, which means it can be quite tricky to get the perfect shot. To capture the pros at their finest moments, you need a way to freeze their movement and keep them in the shot. To achieve this, crank up the shutter speed, turn on Burst mode, and leave some space for your subject to move into the frame.

 S for Speed ©Mike Leung | Equipment: Mavic 2 Zoom

Athletic Motion: Framing

Look for action shots when an athlete is making a turn or jumping, and pan the camera in the direction they are moving to capture them inside the frame.

Surf ©Andrea Marongiu | Equipment: Phantom 4 Pro

Waves: Long Exposure

By combining an aerial image with long-exposure photography, you can achieve expressive shots of all the watersport activity below. Position the drone above your scene of interest and decrease the shutter speed to achieve this effect.

Long Exposure ©BenMack | Equipment: Phantom 4 Pro

This summer, take part in watersports activities and experiment with all the techniques we’ve talked about in this article. From simmering sunset reflections to the beautiful hues of the sea, where will your watersport adventure take you?