Aerial photography (or videography) via the use of drones, also known as sUAVs or small unmanned aerial vehicle systems, has landed, and love it or loathe it, it is most definitely here to stay. Over the last few years there has been some bad press for this extremely useful and innovative technology. Usually, when examined in detail the stories of aircraft near misses, property trespass or even public injury can be traced back to ignorant drone “pilots” with no training, displaying total disregard for the detailed rules, regulations and guidelines that have been issued by the Civil Aviation Authority to avoid incidents like these. At Peter Alvey Photography we have been working with our drones for many years now and they have become an invaluable part of our equipment that enable us to offer our clients literally another dimension to their images.
WHO NEEDS AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY?
Professional elevated or aerial photography is not a new thing, and has been employed by many different industry sectors to showcase their products or services over the years including the construction industry, property developers, domestic and commercial estate agents, telecommunications companies and outdoor leisure and hospitality providers to name just a very few.
Drones can be used for both stills photography and videography to supply images and footage for all sorts of uses including promotion and advertising, progress work, inspections and site analysis, even weddings.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF USING A SUAV?
So what are the benefits of photography and videography shot from a sUAV? Well, traditionally there have been three main options for aerial work, either the use of a fixed mast system, or employment of an aeroplane or helicopter to send your photographer up in.
The benefit of a drone over a fixed mast system is all in it’s versatility. Basically with a drone there are no angle limits, your stills photographs or video footage can be shot from whatever angle you require. Also the fixed mast system for elevated photography is generally limited to a height of around 90 feet, whereas an sUAV can be flown by a qualified operative to the CAA’s specified limit of up to 400 feet. Usually a fixed mast system is operated from a van which has to be driven onto site, this isn’t always practical for some terrains and again a drone wins out here as it can be operated over all terrains (provided they have been approved following an initial online site survey).
The main benefit of a drone over an aeroplane or helicopter is pretty obvious … it’s more economical, it will also be able to fly at lower heights to secure more detailed shots than you would achieve from an aircraft.
LET’S GO – WHEN CAN YOU CARRY OUT MY COMMISSION?
Okay, you’ve decided you need some aerial photography, and you’ve identified where and when you’d like it doing. This is the point at which it is vital that you employ the services of a professional photographer who is a recognised, qualified sUAV operative. There is no cutting corners here, it is a legal requirement in the UK and Europe that your chosen photographer has completed the necessary CAA courses, has a CAA Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO) certificate, carries adequate public liability insurance (and can prove this) and is working under the CAA’s RPQ-S license. If they do not meet any of these criteria, and something goes wrong they will not be insured.
You’ll need to send your chosen photographer a brief outlining the type of photography or video work you would like doing, and (and this is really important), the exact location details of where you would like the flight to take place. Before your aerial commission can be agreed your drone pilot will need to carry out a series of checks to confirm that the area is suitable to be flown over, and whether any additional permissions need seeking before the flight can take place.
Restrictions on a flight can be in force for a whole range of reasons including flying over populated areas, flying near airports, around military zones, or near police or air ambulance helicopter bases. In the East Midlands for example we have East Midlands Airport to consider, and in the West Midlands there is Birmingham Airport. As well as these larger factors that need consideration, there are also smaller more localised ones including trees, power lines, tall buildings etc. Whether it’s in Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Northants or Nottinghamshire there will always be some extensive pre-flight survey work to do before a flight can be agreed.
FLIGHT DATE AND TIME AGREED – WHAT NEXT?
On the run up to your aerial photography date your photographer will be keeping a very close eye on the weather. If the chosen date proves windy or rainy you should expect your shoot to be postponed, professional photographers will not fly if the weather conditions are not suitable. At best the photographic results will not be as good as they would be on a calmer, dry day, and at worst there may be safety implications.
And so you see, when you commission some professional aerial photography or videography, there is a great deal of pre-flight ground work that is necessary before your shoot can take place. All of that work though will ensure that your aerial photoshoot achieves the very best results for you and your business, and will allow your potential customers to view your services or products from a whole new angle.