Vernon O'Brien in 1950
A shot of the earliest phase of the Gator Bowl by Vernon O'Brien
Vernon O'Brien showing off his original film camera he used when shooting aerial shots for Channel 12
A shot of construction of The Jacksonville Landing in 1986 by Vernon O'Brien and Aero-Pic.
Vernon O'Brien showing off this photo of him and his airplane in 1950.
Vernon O'Brien and his sons Mike and Steve look at some of the classic shots they've taken over the years with Aero-Pic
A shot by Vernon O'Brien of Blount Island pre-power plant.
Shot of the 1964 Florida-Georgia game by Vernon O'Brien.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- We've all heard the old saying: "Do what you love and you never work a day in your life."
If that's true, then 86-year-old Vernon O'Brien is still job hunting.
"I just combined my two hobbies," is how he says he came up with his business Aero-Pic.
He put his love of photography together with his passion for flying, and he became one of the first ever aerial news photographers.
He started with the Jacksonville Journal in the 1950s, then did video service for Channel 12 back when it was WFGA.
He was in charge of the airborne news bureau, something that has gone the way of his old wind-and-shoot camera.
"I remember Channel 12 would call me at 3 or 4 in the morning to go cover a moonshine bust," he said laughing.
But he began branching out of news and started taking pictures Jacksonville for other ventures.
Over the years he says he may have more than 100,000 shots of town, dating all the way back to 1950.
"It makes me feel old," he laughed while looking at just a few of his shots.
He has retired, but not before handing his company off to his sons Mike and Steve.
They both joined him in the family business back in the '80s, and have helped as technology has changed.
"It's a lot of on the job training," Steve said.
They say it's a rare opportunity they all shared. Each of them have a love of flying, as well as photography.
So it only made sense that they all stuck together.
"We grew up in my dad's Cessna 180," Steve said.
Mike says it's been wonderful to work on what he loves, but also with who he loves.
"How many sons get to spend 20 years of their career working with their father, not many. An opportunity virtually no one gets handed," Mike said.
And with the thousands and thousands of unique shots from all over the First Coast and Georgia, it gives a whole new meaning to flipping through their family photos.
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First Coast News