Heading off on your first vacation with a drone? Becoming a drone photographer may just be right up your alley.
Travel drones are getting more popular by the day as more people are taking their drones with them on their travels. As of July 2020, there were more than 1.6 million drones registered in the United States by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Of these, 1.1 million are for recreational purposes, meaning many people have come to appreciate the power of drone photography.
Photographers and outdoor enthusiasts are using their unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to capture images that were previously almost impossible to create. It should come as no surprise then that they want to take their drones with them on their travels.
However, not every drone is travel-friendly. And not every travel destination is drone-friendly. Some countries, like Egypt and Iran, have banned drones. Others have some pretty strict regulations that forbid the use of drones without permits.
Still, you can have a fantastic time with your drone in many countries and create memories that will last a lifetime. In this guide, we’ll share some tips on how to travel the world as a drone photographer. Let’s get to it!
1. Invest in a Travel-Friendly Drone
As mentioned, not every drone is travel-friendly.
That being said, you’ll want to invest in a portable drone that’s easier to carry and use. Go for a compact model that doesn’t take up too much luggage space.
If you’re looking for a quality travel drone, we’d recommend the DJI Mavic. It’s the most compact drone for travel, easily folds into a small package, and is quieter than other drones. While the Phantom 4 is more feature-packed, it’s not the best drone for travel photography.
2. Buy a Suitable Case
Drones are fragile and expensive.
If you want to ensure your drone arrives at your destination in one piece, you’ll want to invest in a quality case. We recommend using a hard-shell case to protect it from damage should other objects hit the bag, especially if you’ll be traveling on a rugged road.
If you’re carrying it in a bag, there are many options designed for drones, like the Nat Geo Explorer Backpack. You may also want to consider a battery-safe bag if traveling with several high-capacity batteries. These can prevent damage from combustion, reducing the possibility of an explosion.
3. Learn Local Laws
As mentioned, different countries have different laws regarding flying unmanned aerial vehicles. Some are still in the process of legalizing drone use in public spaces. So, you’ll want to check the drone laws in the country you’re traveling to before heading out.
The last thing you want is to have your expensive drone confiscated at the airport.
A few countries have banned drones entirely, while others require drone photographers to register the device in advance or apply for a permit.
Even if you have the permit, there are still some local laws you should abide by. For instance, many countries forbid flying drones in airports or over groups of people. So, before you travel, do due diligence to learn the local laws applicable in the country you’re traveling to.
4. Be Aware of Your Battery Size
If you plan to bring your drone on a plane, be aware of your battery size.
According to the FAA, if your drone’s batteries are below 100 Wh, you can bring as many as you want on your flight. However, if your batteries come in between 101 and 160 Wh, you can only carry up to two per flight.
So, if you’re bringing a larger drone, you’ll need to check its battery size to ensure you’re not breaking any law by carrying more than two batteries.
5. Ensure You Have Enough Storage
You’ll also want to ensure you have a backup plan for your video footage during your travels. There are many ways to ensure your drone footage doesn’t get lost or damaged. This could include backing it up to the cloud or transferring it to an external hard drive.
Also, consider carrying an extra memory card in case you need more storage.
Drone videos, particularly those shot in 4K, take considerable space, and one memory card might not be enough. But what do you do with the excess footage?
If you have excess drone footage you don’t need, you can sell it to reputable companies that buy stock photos. There are a variety of websites that buy stock photos and videos from photographers like you. These photos are then offered to marketers as free stock drone footage for their marketing campaigns or sold at a premium.
6. Put Safety First
Lastly, be mindful of children and animals around your drone, especially when landing.
Sensitive animals can get scared by the sound of the drone.
Drones can also cause resting seals to free, trampling others during the escape. Also, avoid catching the drone during flight or when it’s landing, as you risk injuring your fingers.
How to Create Wealth as a Freelance Drone Photographer
Being a freelance drone photographer can present a lot of opportunities to grow wealth while doing what you love. Besides creating stock photos and videos, here are the various ways you can create wealth as a drone photographer.
1. Advertise Commercial & Private Real Estate
The demand for aerial real estate photography grows by the day, and you can tap into this growing market and make some real money from it.
There will always be people selling property, and they’ll always need aerial photos and videos of their property to include in their listings. Establishing yourself as a professional real estate drone photographer can earn you some money.
Drones can also be used to shoot quality photos and videos of commercial real estate like hotels or resorts. Even though it’s a competitive industry, you can build up your reputation, and your portfolio will do the marketing for you.
2. Start an Aerial Surveying Company
Another lucrative way to create wealth with a drone is to launch an aerial surveying company.
Aerial surveying involves capturing captivating aerial photos and videos of landscapes and other outdoor wonders. This kind of footage is typically used for things like mapping, land inspection and valuation, rescue operations, and more.
To get started, you’ll need to obtain a license for aerial surveying. Once you have the license, you can start marketing yourself as a drone surveyor.
3. Start an Online Course on Drone Photography
Once you become acquainted with drones and drone photography, you can extend this knowledge to aspiring photographers at a small fee.
Start an online course on drones!
You could start with a simple course on how to fly and operate drones on a field. Then, create detailed materials on how to get the most out of drones, covering everything from understanding and correcting the white balance to enhancing drone footage.
Wrapping Up on Becoming a Drone Photographer
Drones can be great travel companions, allowing you to capture spectacular footage, otherwise not possible with handheld cameras. They can also present opportunities to create wealth while doing what you love. If you opt to travel with a drone, be sure to follow these tips, as they’ll improve your shooting experience and ensure your travel safety.