As an adventure filmmaker, I've had the privilege of shooting several projects from helicopters. I've shot with the doors on and with them off, as well as in frigid, rainy, conditions and with blue skies and warm temperatures. I've also filmed from very high altitudes and very close to the ground. In all that time, I've come up with five tips that have helped land me some of the best content of my career. Enjoy and fly safe!
1. Communicate in great detail with the pilot before hand about what you'd like to capture. Not knowing all the tricks that a pilot can pull off could potentially hinder your shooting experience.
2. Harness in! IF you have the opportunity to fly with the doors off while being strapped in and hanging out the side, take that chance! It doesn't matter how clean the glass is, you're still going to get strange reflections, sun flares, and color degradation. Nothing beats a clear view outside the helicopter.
3. Remove all lens hoods as well as anything else that might fly off your camera and most likely hit the tail rotor, possibly causing significant damage to the helicopter. Be safe, shoot safe!
4. Carry extra batteries close for quick swaps but be sure that they are always secured. You don't want them flying around the cabin or worse, flying out of the helicopter. Time is money so make sure your camera is sufficiently charged.
5. Be kind, or as I say, be a good human to the pilot. You never know what secrets they might decide to show you if they like you.