Chris Stoddart of of HiFly Photography shares tips on how event planners should select drone and aerial photographers for their special events
Drones have revolutionized the way moments can be captured and shared. Whereas just a few years ago the only options for aerial photography were hiring a plane or helicopter, today you can get an aerial perspective for a few hundred dollars. With drone technology where it is now, high-definition footage of any occasion can be obtained at a very reasonable price. The accessibility to drone photography has brought us into the future of event planning where even the smallest gatherings can be turned into great memories.
DRONES AT WEDDINGS
Aerial photography is the perfect way to make the client's fantasy wedding video a reality. You capture breathtaking shots of the wedding venue from above and get creative with the way the reception is filmed. Show off all the best aspects of the day without worrying about where you should have your photographer set up.
When hiring a drone photographer for a wedding, you must consider whether you want them to shoot the whole wedding, including the ground production, or if you just want them to take the aerial shots. If all you want is a few aerial pictures and maybe a video, prices start considerably cheaper--usually around $250 per hour. For full air and ground production, you should expect to pay between $400 and $500 per hour. When hiring an operator for full production, it is common for them to cut you a deal on editing.
DRONES AT FESTIVALS/CONCERTS
Using drone footage to create amazing marketing and event recap videos is the next big thing! Festivals and concerts are usually bigger events that take a lot of planning to run smoothly. Drone photography is the perfect tool to avoid your hard work going unnoticed. With an aerial perspective, event planners can now show off event locations, crowds of people and their set-up like never before.
But there are downsides. Due to the large amount of people at the location of the shoot, there is increased liability. In some cases, operators might have to get additional insurance to be able to fly their drone. If all you want is aerial coverage, prices will start at around $350 per hour. Depending on whether an operator has to get special permits and if you want full air and ground coverage (multiple cameras), pricing will increase to the $500 to $600 per hour range.
DRONES AT PARTIES
Even with a small budget, you can still capture amazing moments. Paying for one hour of an operator’s time will cost you about $200 and usually includes 20 to 40 minutes of flight time, which is enough to get plenty of pictures and some videos. If you’re looking to have ground production as well, then prices will increase accordingly.
DRONES AT SPORTING EVENTS
By using a drone to follow the action on the field, you can guarantee you don’t miss any of it due to a bad angle or being too far away.
Shooting drone footage for sporting events involves an increased amount of liability. Furthermore, it adds a level of difficulty because requires almost continuous footage over an extended period of time. This means operators have to come prepared with multiple batteries and will have to follow the action as it takes place, all while minding their surroundings and the safety of athletes and spectators. Event planners should expect to pay $500 to 700 per hour.
ABOUT THE EXTRAS: EDITING
Editing is an extra service that photographers offer besides getting the right shots for you. Whether you want to add music and effects to a recap of your party, create a memorable wedding video or put together a marketing piece for your event, your drone photographer can help you out.
Average rates for editing range from $75 to $200 per hour. In one hour experts can usually fully edit:
- One minute of video (multiple clips, music, overlay text, effects, etc.)
- 15 to 20 images
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT IF I HIRE A DRONE PHOTOGRAPHER?
Matt Austin, owner and operator of Aerial Imaging Resource, shares what you should expect when hiring a drone photographer:
- The photographer should scout the location of the shoot.
This can be done either in person or using Google Earth. Expert drone operators make sure anything unwanted that could be in the shot is moved, or they take note to avoid it when shooting later.
- The photographer should know sunlight conditions for optimal light on what the client wants to showcase in the footage.
- Once at the job, the drone operator should go through a pre-flight checklist and set-up, ensuring everything is in working order before flying their drone. “It usually takes about 20 minutes depending on the set-up and if you are running manual or automatic controls,” Austin says. Some expert operators will even go through a checklist multiple times before arriving at a shoot.
- You should expect help in acquiring the shots you envision. If clients provide specific information about what they want, operators are able to incorporate that vision in their process from storyboard to post-production. “We usually go through the JPEG photographs with the client and see which ones they want post produced,” Austin says.
- If you want an edited video you should give the operator an idea of both the length and purpose of the video before the shoot so they can ensure they get the best shots. Drone photographers usually offer a 24- to-48-hour turnaround time, and have an option to expedite that process for a price.
"The biggest selling point of using drone photography for outdoor events is that for the price of a ground set-up--or cheaper--anyone can get regular footage and the additional aerial perspective," Austin says. "The difference between just zero and 50 feet makes a world of difference."
Chris Stoddart is co-founder of Dallas-based HiFly Photography, which helps event professionals find specialist aerial photographers in their area.