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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

WEEKLY BRIEFING – High-Flying Firm Still Recovering From 9/11

WEEKLY BRIEFING – High-Flying Firm Still Recovering From 9/11

Linda Lee Warren sees the world from a birds-eye view. A photographer and licensed pilot, Warren built her 23-year-old aerial photography business by taking pictures of construction projects. She has since expanded Warren Aerial Photography Inc. to include photos for architects, real estate investors, attorneys and entertainment studios in the Los Angeles area. The Pacoima-based firm has two full-time and three part-time employees, and rents airplanes and helicopters from El Monte Airport and Van Nuys Airport to support 25 to 35 projects per month.

“I came to California in ’77 from Ohio, where I graduated from Kent State University after the riots. I did a couple of construction jobs but didn’t know what I would like to do. I was taking classes at Pasadena City College, going to night school for photography and it just stuck. The guy I was working for took me for an airplane ride. I took pictures of an apartment complex we were building at the time, and Jerry, the guy I took pictures for, put it up in his office. People would say, ‘I like your pictures. Can you do that for me?’

“So, from there, after I did not do construction anymore, I drove limos to support the aerial photography. Limos were perfect because you could or could not accept certain runs.

“I started working on getting my pilot’s license in ’81 in fixed wing planes and added the helicopter rating around ’89. I love the freedom. You’re up in the air, and you get to see the layout of the city. The photography business started supporting me in ’84 and ’85.

“I started doing monthly progress photos for Turner Construction Co. in L.A. and a few other companies. At that time, I was bringing in $24,000 to $25,000 a year. Now I’m up to $240,000 a year. The bread and butter money is still the construction industry, where I do the monthly progress photos. Occasional clients are investors, developers, real estate people, attorneys, engineers and architects.

“I did own a helicopter for about three or four years. It turned out to be three times more expensive than renting. I still do almost all the shooting myself.

“I think it’s because I was a photographer first, the reason I’ve been in the business this long. I’ve had to learn about air space and how complicated it is.

“We took a big hit last year because of the air space changes following 9/11, so we’re still recovering from last year. We lost about 30 percent because we were not allowed to fly in a lot of the air space. Today, that’s back to normal, and we don’t expect that to change again. I am aiming for $320,000 or $350,000 in revenues next year.”

Amanda Bronstad

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