Starting a Successful Drone Photography Business


Have you ever gazed up at the sky and imagined capturing the world from a bird’s-eye view? Welcome to the enthralling realm of drone photography – a sector buzzing with potential. From real estate vistas to breathtaking event shots, aerial drone photography businesses are revolutionizing how we perceive our surroundings. And operating a drone can be one of the most unique business ideas of 2023. In this article, we’ll navigate the ins and outs of launching a drone photography business, guiding you from the basics to pro tips.

Understanding Commercial Drone Photography

Drone photography is rapidly becoming a mainstay in numerous industries. There are many ways to use drones as you learn how to make money with photography. Real estate is just one of them, where drone-captured aerial views have transformed property showcasing. There’s also the events sector, where drones have revolutionized the way we capture and memorialize special moments, from weddings to large-scale festivals. The tourism industry is another arena where drone photography is making waves, enabling stunning perspectives of travel destinations.

A 2023 study revealed that the global drone services market size was valued at USD 13.9 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from USD 18.9 billion in 2023 to USD 189.4 billion by 2030.

The Benefits of Starting an Aerial Photography Business

drone photography business

Learning how to start a business surrounding aerial drone photography comes with a host of benefits:

  • Flexibility: Drone photography offers flexible work hours. You have the freedom to choose your projects and set your schedule.
  • Demand: As we discussed earlier, the demand for drone photography is skyrocketing in several sectors. You’re stepping into a growth market.
  • Earning Potential: With the right skills and equipment, drone photography can offer high earnings. A single project can range anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

Are Drone Photography Businesses Profitable?

drone photography business

The potential profitability of a drone photography business is as vast as the skies your drone can reach. As per Skylogic Research, experienced drone photographers can earn over $100,000 per year. However, profitability depends on factors like your skills, the market demand, the type of clients you cater to, and how effectively you market your services.

Challenges in the Drone Photography Business

drone photography business

Even with blue skies and clear horizons, the drone photography business is not without its turbulence. Here are some challenges you might encounter:

  • Regulatory Issues: Navigating the ever-changing landscape of drone laws and regulations can be daunting. Every country has its own set of rules and regulations regarding drone flight and photography.
  • Technical Skills: Operating a drone and capturing high-quality photos and videos require specialized skills and training.
  • Equipment Maintenance: Regular maintenance of drones can be expensive.
  • Competition: With the increasing popularity of drone photography, the market is becoming competitive. Standing out will require creativity and a keen understanding of the market’s needs.

Key Steps to Start a Drone Photography Business

You’ve fastened your seatbelt, studied the skies, and are now ready to pilot your journey in the drone photography business. But before we take off, here’s a business startup checklist for launching your own drone photography business.

Acquire the Necessary Skills for Flying Drones and Certification for Aerial Photography

drone photography business

Before you can capture stunning aerial shots, you first need to master the art of drone piloting. Here’s how to start:

  • Learn Drone Piloting: Drone piloting involves understanding flight mechanics and safety measures. There are many online and offline training programs available.
  • Understand Photography: Learning the principles of good photography is essential. It’s not just about shooting from the sky; you also need to know how to compose a shot.
  • Get Certified: Depending on your location, you might need a certification or license for aerial drone photography services. For instance, in the U.S., commercial drone pilots must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Choosing the Best Drone for a Photography Business

drone photography business

Choosing the right drone is critical. Here are some top models to consider:

  1. DJI Phantom 4 Pro: Known for its superior image quality, it offers up to 30 minutes of flight time.
  2. Autel Evo II Pro: This drone boasts a 6K camera and 40 minutes of flight time.
  3. DJI Inspire 2: A higher-end model with cinematic image quality, it is excellent for commercial shoots.
  4. Parrot Anafi: A more budget-friendly option, this model offers 4K video and a decent 25-minute flight time.
Drone ModelCamera QualityBattery LifeStability FeaturesPrice Range
DJI Phantom 4 ProHigh (20MP)30 minutesGimbal stabilizationPremium
Autel Evo II ProUltra (6K)40 minutesOmnidirectional obstacle detectionHigh-end
DJI Inspire 2Cinematic (5.2K)27 minutesAdvanced obstacle sensingPremium
Parrot AnafiGood (21MP)25 minutesDigital stabilizationBudget-friendly

Setting Up Your Business – Legal Considerations and Drone Insurance

drone photography business

Setting up your business involves more than just purchasing a drone. It’s about doing things by the book:

  • Business Entity: Establish a legal business entity, like an LLC, to protect your assets.
  • Comply with Regulations: Adhere to FAA regulations or the governing body in your country. Register your drone and always stay updated with the latest rules.
  • Insurance: Drones are valuable pieces of equipment, and accidents can happen. Insurance protects your investment and gives your clients confidence in your professionalism.

Building a Drone Photography Portfolio and Finding Clients

drone photography business

Now, you’re ready to showcase your skills and attract clients:

  • Build a Portfolio: Start by capturing diverse shots and showcasing them on your website or platforms like Instagram. Find a niche that appeals to your style, whether you want to use a drone as you learn how to become a wedding photographer or prefer shooting real estate photos. Quality should be your main focus, both in shooting and editing photos.
  • Find Clients: Networking plays a huge role in finding clients. Attend industry events, reach out to potential clients, and make use of online marketing.

Scaling and Growing Your Drone Photography Business

Expanding your drone photography business? Excellent! But as the sky has no limits, neither should your aspirations. Let’s look into strategies to elevate your venture to the next tier.

Investing in Advanced Equipment

drone photography business

Top-tier results require top-tier tools. Investing in superior equipment can enhance your output and make a statement about your commitment to quality.

  • Upgraded Drones: Consider drones with longer flight times and advanced camera tech.
  • Gimbal Stabilizers: Ensure smoother video capture, reducing post-shoot editing time.
  • Advanced Camera Lenses: A varied collection can help achieve different photographic effects and styles.

Diversifying Your Services

drone photography business

Broaden your horizons by offering a diverse set of services:

  • Videography: Capture moments in motion, which is especially popular for events.
  • 360-Degree Panorama Shots: Offer a holistic view, making locations and properties more immersive.

Building Partnerships and Collaborations

drone photography business

Strengthening your network can lead to steady work:

  • Event Management Companies: Weddings, corporate events, and festivals can all benefit from drone photography.
  • Real Estate Firms: Aerial shots can add a unique dimension to property listings.

Marketing and Digital Presence

drone photography business

An online presence is paramount in today’s digital age.

  • Social Media Marketing: Engage with a wider audience, showcasing your portfolio on platforms like Instagram.
  • SEO: Boost your website’s ranking on search engines.
  • Paid Advertising: Target specific demographics with Google Ads or social media promotions.
  • Email Marketing: Stay in touch with past clients and reach out to potential ones.

Getting a Great Drone Photography Business Website

drone photography business

In the drone photography domain, a picture is worth a thousand clicks. An attractive, user-friendly website serves as a portfolio, a client touchpoint, and a branding tool. Ensure it’s mobile-responsive, easy to navigate, and showcases your work elegantly.

Drone Photography Tips

Diving into the technicalities, here are some game-changer techniques and pointers:

Mastering the Art of Composition in Aerial Photography

drone photography business

Composition is the backbone of captivating visuals.

  • Rule of Thirds: Break your image into nine equal segments and align the subject with these lines or intersections.
  • Leading Lines: Use natural lines to lead the eye into the image.
  • Balance Elements: Balance out your subjects for a harmonious shot.

Understanding the Drone’s Camera Settings

drone photography business

Perfect photos require a blend of skill and tech know-how.

  • ISO: Adjust according to lighting. Lower ISO for daylight and higher for darker scenes.
  • Shutter Speed: Faster shutter speeds for moving subjects; slower for static or low light scenes.
  • Aperture: Controls the depth of field. Smaller apertures (bigger f-number) keep more in focus.

Embracing Different Perspectives and Angles

drone photography business

Stunning images often come from unconventional views.

  • Top-Down Shots: Offers a bird’s-eye view, revealing unique patterns.
  • Low Angle Flights: Skim close to your subjects for dramatic shots.
  • Side Profiles: Showcase landscapes or cityscapes in their sprawling glory.

The Importance of Planning and Safety Precautions

drone photography business

Well-laid plans lead to well-executed shoots.

  • Weather Checks: Avoid wind or rain, which might damage equipment or disrupt shoots.
  • Battery Life: Always ensure a full charge before take-off.
  • Safety Protocols: Familiarize yourself with local regulations and no-fly zones.

Scaling your drone photography business is a learning, innovation, and dedication journey.

FAQs: Drone Photography Business

Do I need a license to start my own drone photography business?

Yes, in many countries, operating drones for commercial purposes requires a license. For example, in the U.S., commercial drone pilots need to have a Remote Pilot Certificate issued by the FAA. You may also need to find drone photography business names that aren’t taken and register the name with your state.

What is a Remote Pilot Certificate?

A Remote Pilot Certificate is a certification issued by the FAA that permits individuals to operate drones for commercial use. It ensures that the operator understands the regulations, operating requirements, and safety procedures for drones. To obtain one, candidates must be at least 16 years old, pass an initial aeronautical knowledge exam, and undergo security vetting by the TSA.

What type of drone is best for a drone photography business?

The best drones for your business depend on your specific needs and budget. Popular choices include the DJI Phantom 4 Pro for its superior image quality, the Autel Evo II Pro for its 6K camera, and the DJI Inspire 2 for cinematic shoots. For those on a budget, the Parrot Anafi is a worthy consideration.

How much can I earn from a drone photography business?

Earnings can vary widely based on factors like location, skill level, equipment, and specialization. On average, drone photographers can charge between $100 to $500 per hour. Specialized shoots, like real estate or weddings, can garner higher rates.

How can I attract clients to my drone photography business?

Build a robust portfolio showcasing diverse shots, network within the industry, leverage online marketing, maintain an active presence on social media platforms, and consider email marketing campaigns to stay in touch with past clients.

What role does the Federal Aviation Administration play in drone photography?

The FAA oversees and regulates drone use in the U.S., ensuring safe skies for all. This includes setting rules for drone operations, defining no-fly zones, issuing licenses like the Remote Pilot Certificate, and updating safety regulations.

What type of insurance do I need for a drone photography business?

It’s advisable to get liability insurance for your drone photography business. This protects against potential damages your drone might cause during operation. Some clients may also require proof of insurance before hiring your services.

How much should I charge as a drone photographer?

Pricing depends on factors like location, experience, equipment, and the type of shoot. Research local drone photographer rates, consider your overheads, and adjust accordingly. As a reference, rates can range from $100 to $500 per hour or more for specialized shoots.

Does Drone Photography sell?

Absolutely! The unique perspective provided by drone photography has made it increasingly popular in various sectors like real estate, tourism, events, and more. Its ability to showcase landscapes, properties, and events from a unique vantage point makes it a sought-after service.

How are drones used in real estate photography?

Drones offer an unparalleled view of properties, allowing potential buyers to see the full scope of a property, its landscape, and its proximity to other landmarks. Aerial shots can showcase the beauty of a property, highlight its size, and even show off the surrounding neighborhood, giving buyers a comprehensive view and potentially impacting their purchasing decision.

Image: Envato Elements


More in: ,

Antony Maina Antony Maina is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 8 years. Antony covers business and technology and is also a successful freelance writer.