Explore mountains and cities and everything in-between with incredible aerial photos of Mexico, and learn the secrets behind their creation.

“Mexico is a big country with many different contrasts: mountains, valleys, deserts, volcanoes, canyons, beaches, coral reefs, and jungles,” Shutterstock Contributor ​Andrea De la Parra​ tells us. “Mexico also has very few drone restrictions, so you can get amazing aerial shots almost anywhere.”

We spoke with seven extraordinary photographers about some of their most stunning images from this vibrant nation. Most of them use drones, but some have gone on epic plane (and even hot air balloon) adventures. Collectively, they’ve​ covered man-made marvels as well as natural wonders, from the Mesoamerican pyramids of Teotihuacan to the jungles of ​Chiapas.

These photos offer a modern perspective on a timeless place. They also serve as a testament to the diversity and splendor of a country that has inspired generations of artists. Read on to learn how they were made and how you can improve your own aerial photography.

1. “Know the tools, modes, and parameters of your drone.”

Rubi Rodriguez Martinez

7 Photographers on Shooting Inspiring Aerial Photos of Mexico — Know Your Tools

Image by ​Rubi Rodriguez Martinez. Gear: ​DJI Mavic Pro​. Settings: Focal length ​4.73mm​; exposure ​1/750​ sec; f2.2; ISO ​100​.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

This area is located in the heart of the Lacandon Jungle in Chiapas, Mexico. We had two guides during our journey, and they are both part of the indigenous Lacandon community—direct descendants of the Mayans. They have conserved their dialect, traditional clothes, and many other ancestral customs.

We didn’t even know of the existence of this lagoon before we set out. We knew we wanted to visit the Mayan pyramids of Bonampak, and along the way, a local guy invited us to visit this spot. We traveled for two days to get to the lagoon. It wasn’t easy, but it was totally worth it.

We will never forget swimming in this lagoon. We didn’t know at the time that there were crocodiles. Members of the Lacandon community are used to them and aren’t afraid, but when we realized it, we were in shock. In any case, we loved seeing the wildlife. Among the animals we saw were toucans, howler monkeys, tapirs, and scarlet macaws—a species in danger of extinction.

We learned a lot from the indigenous Lacandon community, and their knowledge of nature, wildlife, and plants inspired us. We were truly impressed by how they are able to survive in the middle of the jungle and how much they care about their natural environment.

Pro Tip

​Know the tools, modes, and parameters of your drone. You’ll need these skills to take a good photo in harsh conditions or to rescue your drone in case of an emergency. If you lose the signal, stay calm and think before acting.

Practice is everything. Have more than one battery, and use your first battery simply to explore the place. Find different angles and perspectives. Lastly, always shoot in RAW format so you have more versatility in post-processing.

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2. “To save some time, visualize the shot in your mind before you take off, and then go for it.”

Andrea De la Parra

7 Photographers on Shooting Inspiring Aerial Photos of Mexico — Visualize

Image by ​Andrea De la Parra​. Gear: ​DJI Mavic Air​. Settings: Focal length ​4.5mm​; exposure 1/100​ sec; f2.8; ISO ​100​.

What’s the story behind this photo?

​I was on a road trip with my girlfriends through the Pacific Coast, and we stopped in Sayulita, Nayarit to have breakfast and say goodbye to the sea before we left to go home. While we were walking on the beach, I saw these colorful umbrellas and the surfers catching the waves on the beautiful, clear emerald sea.

Before we left, I thought to myself, “I have to have a picture of this.” So while my friends were arguing with a pretty stubborn lady from the parking lot, I told them, “Just give me ten minutes! I’ll be right back!” I flew the drone from the street, and a moment later, I came back to the car, pretty happy with the results.

7 Photographers on Shooting Inspiring Aerial Photos of Mexico — Take Chances

Image by ​Andrea De la Parra

Pro Tip

Sometimes we have a lot of time to experiment with different shots, and sometimes we don’t. To save some time, visualize the shot in your mind before you take off, and then go for it. Don’t let time constraints get in the way of an opportunity to get an amazing shot. You’ll only regret the shots you don’t take.

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3. “My partner uses an aerial-specific plane, and the two sides open up to provide a clean image.”

Chantal Henderson

7 Photographers on Shooting Inspiring Aerial Photos of Mexico — Take Clean Images

Image by ​Chantal Henderson​. Gear: ​Nikon D800E​ camera, ​70-200mm F 2.8 Lens​ lens. Settings: Focal length ​70mm​; exposure ​1/2000​ sec; f4; ISO 160.

What’s the story behind this photo?

My partner Rodrigo is a light plane pilot, and myself a photographer, so aerial photography is the fusion of the two of us. We were delivering a brand new plane from the Cessna factory in Wichita, Kansas to Santiago, Chile, and we were given an assignment by the owner of the plane to take aerial images as we snaked our way down via Bahamas, Mexico, Central America, and South America. I published a book, ​Wings for Conservation, about our aerial photography journey.

We were in awe of the wetlands in southern Mexico. After the turquoise and aqua images of the water, we felt so privileged to see the texture and color of these wetlands. What I remember most about Mexico is slipping into the warm clear waters of Cozumel and watching the precious underwater world go by.

7 Photographers on Shooting Inspiring Aerial Photos of Mexico — Protect You Gear

Image by ​Chantal Henderson

Pro Tip

I’m not a big fan of drones, so for aerial photography (in a plane or helicopter), the key is having ​no windows. My partner uses an aerial-specific plane, and the two sides open up to provide a clean image. Slow flying is better, so the type of plane you choose is important. Don’t touch the sides of the plane or lean on the edge of the plane, as this creates vibration. Keep everything—including your lens!—contained within the plane, protected from the wind.

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4. “Something that helps me a lot is to visualize the main subject I want to shoot.”

Gianfranco Vivi​

7 Photographers on Shooting Inspiring Aerial Photos of Mexico — Maximize Your Flight Time

Image by ​Gianfranco Vivi. Gear: ​iPhone X​. Settings: Focal length ​4mm​; exposure ​1/1400​ sec; f1.8; ISO 200.

What’s the story behind this photo?

This was the first family trip I took with my kids since I got a divorce about six years ago, so it was extra special for me. I wanted to show my two kids, who were thirteen and nine at the time, that the world has so many exciting places beyond the theme parks in Orlando.

It was a big challenge choosing a location that would be fun for the kids and could compete with the Disney parks. It would have to have lots of impressive activities, a sense of adventure, and great food. After a lot of research, we chose Mexico City because of its rich culture and magnificent architecture.

One of the main activities we wanted to do was to fly in a balloon over the majestic Teotihuacan Pyramids. We were excited to fly in a balloon for the first time, but beyond that, we were excited to do it in such a historic place. I will always remember the look of amazement on my kids’ faces.

I think the trip was a huge success. The kids came back in ​love​ with Mexico, its culture, the people, and all that they learned along the way. Now they want to travel to the world.

Pictured: [1] Gianfranco Vivi​ [2] Gianfranco Vivi​

Pro Tip

Something that helps me a lot is to visualize the main subject I want to shoot. From there, I think of two or three different angles I can shoot before I even start to fly the drone. It helps me to maximize my flight time.

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5. “This might sound like a cliché, but great aerial photography comes down to practice, repetition, and consistency.”

victorcalceta

7 Photographers on Shooting Inspiring Aerial Photos of Mexico — Practice

Image by ​victorcalceta. Gear: DJI ​Phantom 4 Pro​. Settings: Focal length ​24mm​; exposure 1/120 sec; f.28; ISO 100.

What’s the story behind this photo?

I’m from a small northern city called Durango, which is kind of the opposite of Mexico City. I am lucky enough to travel a lot for work, so when I had a one-day layover in Mexico City, I decided to rent a hotel room near Chapultepec. I took advantage of the opportunity and went on a walk in the park with my drone.

As soon as I was above the trees, I saw the majestic castle emerge. I decided to take the shot with the pillars in the foreground. I was later told that I was very lucky to have such a clean sky that day, given that Mexico City almost always has a layer of smog.

7 Photographers on Shooting Inspiring Aerial Photos of Mexico — Repetition

Image by ​victorcalceta

Pro Tip

This might sound like a cliché, but great aerial photography comes down to practice, repetition, and consistency. The advantage we have as drone pilots is that we can achieve almost any angle we want. Fly around your subject for a while before taking any pictures, and get to know every angle before selecting the perfect one.

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6. “My best tip would be to shoot early in the morning—before sunset—as you’ll get that nice volume from the shadows.”

Walter Shintani

7 Photographers on Shooting Inspiring Aerial Photos of Mexico — Shoot Early

Image by ​Walter Shintani​. Gear: DJI ​Mavic Air​. Settings: Focal length ​4.5mm​; exposure ​1/200 sec; ​f2.8​; ISO ​200​.

What’s the story behind this photo?​

This is near Loreto in Baja California Sur, Mexico. This place is special because of its beautiful nature, and I was excited to explore a location I didn’t know very well. The peninsula felt remote to me, almost as if it were an island. I took this photo early in the morning, taking advantage of the light. December is quite a nice time to shoot here because the sun doesn’t get too high, so you can get those nice, long shadows.

Pictured: [1] Walter Shintani [2] Walter Shintani

Pro Tip

My best tip would be to shoot early in the morning—before sunset—as you’ll get that nice volume from the shadows. Sometimes, you don’t need to fly too high to get the best photos. Study the terrain, and plan your composition accordingly.

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7. “I think there’s a “sweet spot” for drone photography between about 30-100 feet above the ground.”

DouglasDepies

7 Photographers on Shooting Inspiring Aerial Photos of Mexico — Find the Sweet Spot

Image by ​DouglasDepies​. Gear: ​DJI Phantom 3 Standard​. Settings: Focal length ​3.61mm​; exposure ​1/4000​ sec; f2.8; ISO 100.

What’s the story behind this photo?

I took this photo during a shoot I was assisting on at the Aqua Hotel in Cancun, Mexico. When we had some free time, we’d take the drone out and look for some fun angles and shots around the beach.

I really love the top-down vertical shots, and I had been playing around a bunch that day trying to find different ways to get all the different elements in the shot: the ocean, the beach, and the pools. I’m originally from Wisconsin, but Cancun is my home now, and I’ve been living down here for the last eight years.

7 Photographers on Shooting Inspiring Aerial Photos of Mexico — Find New Angles

Image by ​DouglasDepies

Pro Tip

I think there’s a “sweet spot” for drone photography between about 30-100 feet above the ground. When I first got my drone, I loved to fly it as high as it would go, but as I flew more, I learned that higher does not always mean better. There are definitely times when it’s needed, but not always. Drones allow us to show things in a brand new way, as long as we know what we’re doing.

Ladders and cherry pickers have existed for a while, so if you don’t get some height, you’re not showing people something new. And helicopter shots are fairly normal now too, so if you start to get too high, you’re shooting stuff that has already been shot. That in-between height of about 30-100 feet is where you can really start to show people some new angles.

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Top Image by ​Gianfranco Vivi​.

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