In theory, absolutely anyone can become a drone photographer provided they have the right tools for the job, but of course becoming a good drone photographer, is entirely dependent upon the individual. If you are a keen photographer and are considering branching out into drone photography, here are a few tips and guidelines to help get you started:
Flying a drone is not that difficult:
For some, the main perceived barrier to becoming a drone photographer might be the fact that they are concerned about piloting a drone and the liability that comes with it. For a moment, let’s forget about the word ‘pilot’, since it has connotations of flying a manned aircraft which, unlike flying a drone, is not a skill you can just pick up.
Perhaps the most important thing to get your head around, is that if you’re flying a drone with GPS (and most of them do) and you let go of the controls, the drone will simply hover in the air at the point at which you last had control. It will only move until you instruct it to using the controls.
If your drones’ battery should happen to get low mid-flight, most have an inbuilt system that will bring it back to you when the battery reaches a certain level. You can also press a ‘home’ button on most drones to have them returned to you should you encounter any problems while flying it.
With two joysticks, one to send the drone up or down, side to side, and the other to send it forward and backward, left and right, controlling the drone is easy. Easy enough that most people flying a drone for the first time pick it up quickly with little need for practice.
Following the law while flying a drone:
While there are strict laws regarding where and when drones can be flown, most apply to commercial drones, and so as the pilot of a drone being used for recreational purposes, you neither need a permit or pilot requirements. Simply register your drone with the FAA, a process which costs just $5, and then you can begin flying your drone.
However, while most restrictions apply to commercial drone pilots, you still need to adhere to certain rules for safe flight operations, so check with the FAA before flying.
Selecting the right drone:
If you’re new to the world of drone photography, you may not want to start with an expensive model but still want one that takes good pictures. Take note that if you already have a GoPro, some drones will be compatible with them, which might save you the cost of a buying a new camera. You typically want a drone that has a solid gps system, can operate up to a mile or so away from you, and stay airborne for up to 20-30 minutes–most basic camera drone models will meet these requirements. When it comes to shooting videos with drones, the cameras are usually pretty good and shoot in Ultra HD and 4k resolutions. Be warned that the bit-rate and compression is not always that great though, and the dynamic range can be limited. You should also be prepared for the lens to be limited with a fixed focal length and wide angled, usually around 15-20mm.
Yes, anyone can become a drone photographer, but just how great a drone photographer you become may of course be dependent on your skills and what equipment you can afford to buy. Perhaps the best advice is to just get out there and try it.