October 17 2014 Update: I am pleased to announce a special on all three of my aerial photography books for one low price of $19.99. Thanks everyone for keeping me posted on your progress, I love hearing about all of the aerial photography businesses sprouting up all over the world! Click here to download all 3 of my books.
I have been getting a lot of questions about how to start an aerial photography business so I decided to put together an ebook that explains how I did it. There is a ton of information in this book for only $19.99. This is a blueprint to help you get started and covers the following topics:
Buy "Starting An Aerial Photography Business" now for only $19.99 and start making money today!
So you are interesting in starting an aerial photography business? You really have to break it down into two different areas of expertise:
1) Your aircraft & camera gear
2) Getting customers
Your Aircraft & Camera
There are lots of different ways you can fly a camera into the sky to take pictures. I started out with a GoPro HD camera set to take a still picture every 2 seconds. The original GoPro HD is acceptable for shots that are up close and personal like real estate but the fish eye lens really is not good enough for much more. I have not personally tried the new GoPro 3, but I have heard from friends that do lots of FPV that they are amazing. The biggest improvement comes from the adjustable field of view and smaller size.
I eventually had to hack a Canon point and shoot until I upgraded to a commercial rig (The S800 from DJI) that carries the incredible Sony NEX5n with a 16mm lens. You do not need buy something like this to start out with!
A lot has changed since I started DroneAbove, and probably the coolest thing out there for "beginners" is the Phantom from DJI. This has the powerful NAZA flight controller that I used in my QAV500, except it is ready to go out of the box and even has a mount ready for the GoPro 3 on it!
So, hopefully this sums things up for you: If you are interested in starting an aerial photography company, I recommend buying the DJI Phantom and the GoPro 3 black (the wifi remote will come in handy). If this stuff was available even a year ago I would have been able get up and running with a very minimal capital investment and cut the tinker time down to almost nothing. In my opinion this is all you need to get started on the technical side
So you want to fly your little toy around expensive homes? You had better bring a little credibility and your happy face. I got started by taking some pictures of my own house and friends houses. I then used these as example images when I started emailing Realtors offering my service for free to build a small portfolio. After I had some example shots that were actually used on the MLS listing service, I started telling people that I would only charge them if they were happy with the results. After that, I was able to quote jobs based solely on the amount of free time I had from my "real job."
There is decent demand for aerial photography and there is some good money to be made doing something you enjoy if you stick with it and charge a fair rate. I think you could have as much business as you could handle if you charged $75 an hour once you got established in your local real estate community. I typically charge much more than that depending on the job and how much free time I have, simple supply and demand should dictate your pricing. I have less free time, so I charge more and so I end up doing less jobs.