With camera technology constantly evolving, it’s often hard to keep one step ahead of the competition. This is certainly true when it comes to creating new ways to deliver even more incredible experiences to your clients.
One particular piece of equipment that’s began to take flight across the industry, mainly due to camera tech becoming more affordable and also technology moving forward, are Drones.
Companies like DJI with their ‘Phantom’ range and now even GoPro with their new ‘Karma’ drone are beginning to really push and develop this particular area of Photography & Videography more than ever before.
With features such as 4K video, smartphone controls and now ultra portability (one thing that initially put off a lot of users) all commonplace, the future for drone technology is looking pretty positive.
Do I Need One?
It all depends, if you’re happy with offering traditional photography and fully believe in your packages and their ability to justify their value. If this is the case, then sticking with what you have is certainly a viable option.
On the other hand, if you want to offer something a bit different for your clientele then adding a drone to your arsenal is something you should seriously consider.
First up, Drone footage when shot well, looks incredible. Weddings often take place in some incredible locations and having sweeping, panoramic aerial shots in a wedding video really helps emphasise the beauty of the location, not to mention adding to the overall quality of your final production. One other thing to consider is that you’re limited to one particular lens when it comes to drone use, and it’s usually wide angle.
Take a look at an example below from Ryan Welch Photography on how Drone footage can be used effectively in delivering video to clients.
But it’s not all fun and games. With Drone use comes the need for a license in order to fly in public places. The Telegraph recently reported that The House of Lords EU Committee actually called for compulsory registration of all commercial and civilian drones. This was amongst growing concerns of the use of drones by private individuals with little to no knowledge of aviation rules.
Flying a drone commercially without a license is obviously illegal, and doing so can actually incur some pretty hefty fines, thus adding the cost of obtaining a license is something that needs to be factored into your decision making process. It all just depends on your willingness to jump through a few hoops in order to be able to fly and operate drones legally.
This ties nicely into the next point; although it may be a hassle to initially obtain all of the correct documentation in order to operate Drones commercially, the financial benefits of adding them into your services can be well worth the trouble. For example, increasing the price of your photo & video packages by up to £200-300+ per wedding can have a big impact on your annual turnover, without compromising on your packages value for money.
The Drone Wars
We as photographers and videographers all know that this is very much a visual industry, so spending £100 on what is essentially a ‘toy’ isn’t going to get you very far. When it comes to purchasing a Drone for your business it’s very important you weigh up cost versus quality.
For users at the lower to entry-level end of the market, a great starting point is something such as the ‘Phantom 3 series’ from DJI. Phantom 3 is a series of drones available in either standard, advanced, and professional models. Although not as portable as other drones, the Phantom series offers great video and photo output at a fairly reasonable price point, with the standard edition weighing in at £449 rrp.
Moving up a gear toward the medium to high-end range of Drones we’d suggest taking a look at either the ‘Mavic Pro’ from DJI (rrp £999) or the recently announced ‘Karma’ from the team at GoPro (rrp from £720). Both drones offer amazing flexibility with a compact form-factor and foldable propellers, allowing easy transportation. 4K video is available across both models complete with robust flight software, tracking and image stabilization so despite their minor differences, you can’t really go wrong with either.
With every Drone you’ll ever have, there will involve some sort of learning curve. Keep this in mind when purchasing one. Don’t rush out within a week of getting one and start shooting weddings and all the rest, when you simply don’t know how to get the most out of your new piece of kit.
This should go without saying really as you wouldn’t have ran out shooting weddings the day after you’d got your first camera, would you?
Although the glitz and glamour of having the latest and greatest camera equipment may be appealing to most, weighing up whether taking the step into aerial photography/videography is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Be sure to mull over all of the points put forward in this post before making your decision and ultimately deciding whether the idea of using Drones is either going to take off, or just end up crashing in your back garden.