Things Are Changing!
The landscape for aerial photography businesses has changed since I first started doing it a few short years ago. Gone are the days of tinkering and shop time to get flying. Now you can have an amazing aerial platform ready to go out of the box within a week. This has created opportunity as well as challenges as the barrier to entry has gotten so low anyone can now fly a drone and get amazing footage. There are two types of people usually interested in making money from their drones - those who want to get a toe hold in a fast new industry and hobbyists who want to justify the purchase of fancy toys. I still believe there is opportunity for both currently and if this is something you want to do professionally, I think it is important to get started as soon as possible.
The FAA has released their proposed rules for commercial drone use and it actually is a good thing for those who want to seriously pursue aerial photography as a full time gig because it creates some legal / regulatory barriers to entry. I am keeping close tabs on all of these developments and will let you guys know when things get finalized and how best to deal with that stuff.
With the new Phantom 3 which costs $1000, just about anyone can take aerial pictures now. This has created some downward pressure on aerial picture pricing but it will never eliminate the need for professionals and semi-professional operators. One of the most timeless parts of my aerial photography business book is the part that talks about getting and keeping clients. Customer service and acquisition will never change and now that you don't have to solder anything you can spend more time building profitable relationships with those people who need aerial work.
I think the current going rate for simple aerial pictures is $100-150 which is still pretty good. I think you can get $200-500 for video but you really need to be able to deliver and I think you need to be adding in shots from the ground as well as the air if you are seriously going to offer this service.
As always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask!
I finally got my Inspire 1 back from DJI and I am really excited to start flying it again. I decided to cancel my order for the Phantom 3 because I felt it was a bit excessive to have both. I am a huge fan of the Phantom 3 and I still think it is the rig to get for getting started. It is about 95% Inspire 1 after all!
I finally got an email from DJI support saying that my Inspire 1 is now repaired. However, I knew this over a week ago when I called and spoke with someone at DJI support. I still have no idea when it will be shipped back to me but it has been sitting around just waiting. The north shore winter waves are starting to wind down and it looks like I will not be able to get any wind or kite surfing footage with the Inspire until next year. The level of frustration I feel is extreme. So extreme that I canceled my Phantom 3 order in protest.
If you are in the market for a new drone and you want to still use your GoPro camera, you might want to consider the new Phantom competitor, the Solo. It has a well thought out remote control and gives you total control over the GoPro from the remote control unit. It also has some built in features that automate the flight path so you can control the camera but I am not sure what happens to those legs when using some of the advanced features.
DJI support sucks and it might be the biggest reason to avoid DJI stuff. I am dealing with it now with my Inspire 1 and I have not seen it in over a month. Check this screen grab I came across that talks about the 3DR Support and warranty! This is amazing!
With two new aerial photography drones dropped within a week of each other, which one should you get? The biggest difference is going to be the camera. Is the 4k and 1080p good enough for you on the Phantom? The low frame of the Inspire 1 and Phantom 3 camera is just barely good enough. It is good to see 3d Robotics sticking with the GoPro. I like that you can control all of the settings of the GoPro from the remote control and the app. They also have an HD video feed which they don't really highlight in the launch video. What do you guys think - 3DR Solo or DJI Phantom 3?