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Drone photography is still booming and as a photographer you should offer this type of service. Drone photography is today’s way of shooting alternative compositions that only a few years ago were accessible only from airplane or helicopter and very expensive to do.
I made this step-by-step to do list for you if you’re looking to start a drone photography business. Drone photography can be a lucrative and very fun activity at the same time and if you want to make it your full time job here’s what you need to do.
Remember, not only you need to master your craft, you also need to be professional and know how to sell your work. Moreover, you need the right equipment and need to know the law in your country or area.
But don’t worry! You won’t need to learn all at once.
Step by step is the way to go and adding things incrementally to your arsenal.
That’s why I made this list for you. So that you know at each stage of your progress what to do next and how to avoid wasting time and money.
Buy a Drone
Don’t know what drone to buy if you’re starting now? Here’s my article to learn what drone is best for photography.
Don’t buy the most expensive one, yes you will need one of those too at some point if you want to deliver super high quality, but you can always hire one at first. The Mavic Pro 2 (affiliate link) is more than enough to start. It’s an amazing drone, with a really good camera. DJI partnered with Hasselblad to produce the camera of this drone.
Learn Basic Rules of Photography
Photography is photography. No matter the angle, no matter the tools, aerial photography obeys to the same visual rules of other styles of photography. It’s just that you’re shooting from a different perspective.
Learn How to Shoot Videos
Aerial footage are in high demand. As a photographer is a service you might want to start consider to offer since it will give you an edge over your competition. I will soon write a guide to teach you all about shooting videos with your drone, so stay tuned and subscribe now to Pixinfocus to receive my latest updates!
Create Your Online Portfolio
Alright you have a drone, you’ve taken off and learned how to fly it and have also read my guides and learned photography. It’s time to start shooting for real! Select at least 10 images from your archive that you are really proud of and try to see what are common traits of your style, because it will help you understand what are your strengths and how to sell your work to a client.
You need to put your work on a website. It can be a simple portfolio website at first and with time you can upgrade it to something more, like a blog.
Have you heard of Instagram? Well it’s time to share your best work there. That’s were your clients are. Please don’t worry about copyrighting your images. No one will steal them, especially from Instagram where the resolution is too low for anyone to be able to print them. You need to get your work out there and do it fast. Instagram is the channel for that.
You can also read my tips on How to Improve Your Instagram Photography.
6. Get Your Drone Flying License
Or at least start planning to get one for when you’ll fly for commercial purpose and always always always fly your drone respecting safety rules.
Here’s a few useful links that will guide you through the process of getting a license. Laws are different in all countries so I’m giving you a few different links to follow depending on where you live:
US – FAA Federal Aviation Administration
Australia – CASA Civil Aviation Safety Authority
UK – CAA Civil Aviation Authority
Canada – Aviation Authority
Get a Drone Insurance
You don’t need to do this if you’ve just bought a drone for recreational use, but if you’re running a business you might want to get your drone an insurance cover against lost, damage or caused damage.
Here’s a list of resources you need to take a look at when you’re going to insure your drone
Work for Free
Let’s face it. It is possible that to get your name out you’ll have to start working for free. Now let me tell you that I’m totally against not getting paid for some work you do. Your time is valuable and you’ve invested time learning and money in buying your gear, so it’s totally fair that you don’t like the word “free”.
But what you can do is to start very small, with a project for a friend or someone you know and that doesn’t put pressure on you to deliver a perfect work. Start as soon as you feel confident you can deliver something acceptable. This way you won’t waste time and you can get an idea of what it feels like working for a client.
Ask the person you’re working for to refer you to another potential client and start building your network. Charge very little or nothing in the beginning so that you can keep building your portfolio and your self confidence. Also, you can ask people to write a short review of what you did for them, that you can add to your website.
Even though it doesn’t sound fascinating at first, this strategy will pay in the long term.
How Much to Charge
This could easily be the one million dollar question. I can’t give a trivial answer to this. Money is the most delicate aspect of your activity if you want to run a business.
Pricing your photography and especially aerial photography services is one of the hardest things. You have to take into account the time it takes for a project (you could charge by the hour). You have to take into account where you live, if you have to travel for a project, image size and resolution of your final files, if you have to shoot a video and so many other aspects.
I know drone photographers that charge up to $5,000 per day or more for certain projects. It really depends.
Don’t even dream of getting reach quick with drone photography, but at the same time understand that your equipment and your knowledge and skills are worth a lot.
You need to become good at selling yourself properly and understand the market a little bit. The best advice I can give you is to start collaborating with some bigger business that already have clients. You will find that a lot of companies o freelancers need your help.
What you learned in step 8 will be very useful now. Just reach out to other drone photographers and offer some help for free. In exchange they can and trust me they will, help you understand how to position yourself in the market.
Stay Up To Date
Getting the best drone is not enough to start a drone photography business.
Drones are a relatively new technology and they’re evolving so fast that it’s pretty hard to keep the pace.
I want to link you to this website called Dronethusiast so you can read news about drone hardware, drone tutorials and stay up to date with the drone industry in general.