One of my favorite things about this blog is hearing from people who have started aerial photography businesses around the world. When I first started exchanging emails with Hazel I was very curious about what a drone business in Africa would be like. I asked him to please keep in touch and a few months later he emailed me some awesome pictures and said business was booming! Luckily for us, he was interested in doing an interview and answering some questions about his new business.
How did you decide to get into aerial photography?
I honestly never thought I would ever get into photography let alone aerial photography. My fascination for high tech gadgets especially drones got me here. I figured it will be cool to see Accra from a higher perspective and boy was I blown away when I took my first picture. I only started aerial photography two months ago and it’s been exciting so far.
What are the reactions to your drone when you fly in Ghana?
It is a crowd magnet, these drones. People always ask if I’m Ghanaian when I am on site to shoot. I find that pretty funny. Once I lost one of my drones late in the evening and I had to run over 200 meters to retrieve it. I had the shock of my life when I got to it, a crowd of over 200 had circled around it and were taking pictures. They had no idea what it was. They had actually called the police because they believed it was a UFO.
I had to explain myself to all these people and the police. That was one long night. I also had to cancel a shoot because National Security didn’t think it was prudent because the President was also attending the ceremony.
What type of drone photography work are you getting?
I'm getting a lot of outdoor weddings, concerts and real estate gigs. Music video contracts just started coming in. I tend to take random pictures of places I think will look super cool from way up, it excites people and then magically calls come in for more gigs.
What kind of equipment are you using and how did you choose it?
I'm totally a DJI fan. I love their products. I have 3 of their phantom vision 2 plus for now.
What kind of equipment will you be getting in the future and why?
Well I just purchased the DJI Inspire. I’m totally excited about it. The indoor stability, 4K camera and dual remote function were the functionality that drew me to purchase it. Just about a week ago I nearly had an accident with one of the drones at a state function because it was indoors and piloting the phantom indoors can be very tricky. The final step will be the S900 with a zenmuse gimbal to carry high end cameras.
Where can people view your work?
You can follow AeroShutter on Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook. Our website will be up in a few weeks.
What types of challenges did you have starting your business?
Privacy issues; I've done three great weddings shoots but the couple don’t want their video out on our social media platforms and I am so sad about it. I also foresee challenges in the near future in my country with regards to regulations and licensing to fly drones. For now everyone is in the 'oh wow!' state.
How much opportunity do you see in the future for other aerial photography operators?
I see a lot of opportunity for aerial photographers especially in Africa. Aerial photography can be of use to security companies, the music and movie industry have a lot they can do with aerial photography, and estate developers will need our services for a more vivid view of what they developing. The list will only get longer.
What parts of my aerial photography books did you find most useful?
Justin’s books were very helpful when I decided to have a shot at aerial photography. His book was all I needed to start AeroShutter. I am a banker by profession therefore I was so lost to the idea of starting an aerial photography business. His book broke down everything I had to know and needed. I can’t tell which part wasn’t useful. I still read them every day.
Do you have any advice for others looking to start an aerial photography business?
Start simple. Develop great customer interaction skill. Do the first few gigs for free if you can and over impress. Word will go out. All the best.
What is the coolest thing you have captured filming or what is the coolest thing that has happened to you since starting aerial photography?
Takoradi Market Circle. It’s one of the busiest places in Ghana but I was bent on taking the picture. I had to take the picture quickly and bolt for fear of the crowd gathering.
What do you want to film that you haven't gotten a chance too yet?
The Presidential palace and the US embassy in Ghana. I'm definitely sure they'll blow up my drone within seconds if I ever try. Seeking permission though, one might go through.