Flying above the mitten with Anderson Aerial Photography

An aerial shot of Sleeping Bear Dunes

Jim Anderson has a different perspective on northern Michigan. He spends his time looking at things from above and through a camera lens for his aerial photography business. Jim started taking pictures from his airplane in 1980 after being a speech pathologist in Traverse City for over 30 years. Jim decided to "retire" so his aerial photography business could really take off.

"If this is retirement I need a new job because I'm way too busy!" Anderson said.

He's been specializing in capturing the beauty of northern Michigan in all seasons for years with guidance from his mentor, John Wagner, his Cessna Skyhawk 172 and his Nikon 700. The best part is - he's doing it all from 12,000 feet.

Many of Jim's photos are panoramic, a group of photos digitally sewn together for a glossy, detailed compilation. Some of his favorite subjects to shoot are our Great Lakes, our small lakes and Sleeping Bear Dunes.

"You go over to torch lake, you want to talk about a beautiful lake? And that's 29 miles long, so you get a panoramic of that I think there's 12 or 13 photos stitched together," Anderson said.

But a clear day doesn't always promise a smooth ride and even Jim's stable hands need a little help. His mentor told him to really improve his photography, he should get a special attachment called a gyroscopic stabilizer.

"When you put the gyroscopic stabilizer on...the first thing you're going to say is 'wow that's heavy' and that's what everybody says," Anderson said.

A master multi-tasker, Jim uses the tool to add weight to the camera and keep the photos from being blurry, all while using his feet to fly the plane.

"I'm sitting and flying at the same time and I'm out here taking, and the airplane and I'm bouncing around and this camera is just as smooth as can be."

And the results are worth it. Many of Jim's photos are in galleries around northern Michigan or on the walls of businesses and homes. It seems more and more people from other parts of the country are looking to get a piece of northern Michigan.

Jim's photos come in lots of forms such as canvas prints, digital files, puzzles, and regular glossy pictures.

Jim has been doing his aerial photography full-time for over 15 years and he has no plans of quitting any time soon.

"It doesn't get any better than that - it really doesn't. It's so beautiful...I have a wonderful time doing it because everyday I fly is special," Anderson said.

To see galleries or for ordering information, you can visit Jim's website Anderson Aerial Photography.