Drone Photography For Weddings: A Practical Guide

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Wedding Drone Photography Image
Me with my drone

Drones are a lot of fun and an awesome business opportunity. We started our family business, then created this blog to offer advice to others that are interested in this technology. 

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My brother-in-law got married last year. I considered flying my drone to take video, but I was a groomsman so I was busy doing other stuff. But I realize that weddings could be a great use case for drone photography or drone video. So I did some research on wedding photography and combined that with my drone videography experience to create this practical guide to getting the most out of drone photography for your wedding.

Drone photography offers a unique perspective for weddings by capturing angles that would otherwise be impossible to get. However, drone photography is not without its risks. If you’re not careful, you could end up ruining your drone or even hurting someone. That’s why it’s important to research drone photography before you attempt it on your wedding day.

Aerial imagery can add an extra dimension to wedding photos by capturing the overall atmosphere of the event. From the drone’s vantage point, it is possible to get a sense of the scale and grandeur of the occasion. This can be particularly useful for couples who want to remember their wedding day in all its glory. It is easy to see why drone photography for weddings is a growing trend.

drone photographers typically charge by the hour, and prices can vary depending on the complexity of the event and the number of drone cameras being used. If you’re interested in hiring a drone photographer for your wedding, be sure to shop around and compare prices before making a decision.

Drone Wedding Photography: The Pros

drone cameras offer a unique perspective that can add a sense of drama and beauty to wedding videos. drone videography can capture stunning aerial shots that would be impossible to capture with a standard camera. drone videography is often less intrusive than traditional videography, making it ideal for couples who want to capture their wedding day in a natural, unscripted way.

You may have paid for a fabulous wedding venue. Drones can capture the entire venue in addition to the wedding event. This can give a great feel for the overall wedding event, especially if it’s an outdoor venue.

video courtesy of AeroPixel -Scotland. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pe0qdVF6DCI

We’ve all had the experience of trying to fit a large group of people in the shot with a traditional camera. Drones can be easily positioned to capture large groups, and you don’t have to squeeze into the shot.

Drones are potentially less intrusive because there’s no camera directly in front of you. If the drone is small enough, you may not even notice it’s there. I say potentially because all drones have a distinctive noise from the propeller rotations. If the drone flies too close during a quiet portion of the event (for example the wedding vows) it can create a distraction.

Drone Wedding Photography: The Cons

Drones do have a number of limitations that should be considered before using them for wedding photography.

First, drone flights are limited by weather conditions. Rain, snow, or strong winds are not safe conditions to fly a drone. If you are indoors this may be less of a problem but it is always something to consider

Second, if you’re venue is outdoors then you will need to check local Federal Aviation Administration airspace regulations. Locations near airports, military bases, or federal parks are generally highly regulated airspace that may require special flight authorization.

FAA Controlled Airspace Classes

No technology is perfect and drones have been known to crash. Given the advanced state of drone technology, this is a very rare occurrence but it is something to consider. Because of this, we always recommend limiting the amount of time flying over people.

Drones make noise, which can be disruptive if they are used at the wrong time. That is why it’s important to ask what equipment your pilot will use. We always recommend smaller, quieter drones for wedding events. We also recommend that you limit the use of drones for outdoor events unless the indoor venue is large.

DroneFlight Time
DJI Mini 330 min
DJI Mini 234 min
DJI Air 2S31 min
DJI Mavic 231 min
DJI Mavic 346 min

Drones batteries typically only provide 20 – 30 minutes of flight time. You will need to make sure the pilot has extra batteries so you can capture photos throughout the entire event. Even with extra batteries, you will need to plan specific times you want aerial photos because the pilot may need to conserve batteries.

Where To Find Your Wedding Drone Photographer

Referral

The best way to find a drone photographer is through recommendations. If you know someone that has used the photographer in the past then the referral is your best option. Unfortunately, drones are still relatively new technology so it’s unlikely that you’ll know someone who has hired a drone company. So you have several other options to find good pilots.

Regular Photographer

Use your wedding photographer. Drone photography has become increasingly popular, as drones have become more affordable and easier to use. So many traditional photography companies either have in-house drone programs or have a relationship with a drone pilot. This is a great option because you can simply include the aerial photo as part of your wedding photography package. The photographers will have worked with the pilot before so you can be sure they’ve been vetted. Plus the ground and aerial photos will likely be coordinated to give you the best overall product.

Online Search

Another great way to find a drone pilot is online. Any reputable, licensed drone pilot that sells their services will have a website. A website can give you a sense of how reputable and reliable the business is. Is the website well-organized, does it have information about the company and the pilots? You can also generally find a portfolio page to see previous work, and you can find a page that lists pricing for different services.

You’re in-lone search will also show pilot network companies. These companies maintain have a network of pilots that they can connect you with. Because this is how most drone pilots get jobs when they’re just starting out, you can generally expect to get more inexperienced pilots. This doesn’t mean they’re bad, but it would not be my preferred way to find a pilot. Especially for your wedding day.

Online Search for Wedding Drone Pilot

Questions To Ask Your Wedding Drone Photographer

As with any profession, you can find people with a range of experience and skill sets. There are important questions to ask when vetting your drone pilot to ensure that he has the proper set of skills to meet your needs. Here are some basic questions you should ask any drone photographer before hiring them.

Hire Drone Pilot

What other jobs of this type have you done?

Another way to go about this is to ask to see examples of the pilot’s work to get an idea of their style and skill level. They should also have a website with a portfolio page. Be sure they have examples specifically of weddings. Someone with experience creating commercial videos for shopping malls may not be the right person for your wedding.

What equipment will you use?

This may be difficult to evaluate because it requires some knowledge about drone technology to know if the pilot has the right equipment. But for weddings, you definitely want a smaller, quieter, less obtrusive drone. Our choice for this type of event are the DJI Mini or DJI Air 2S.

Anything larger will be distracting, especially during the quiet portions of your event. Also, you want the guests t to be focused on the bride and groom versus some flying behemoth.

What is the total flight time?

Also, drones can only stay in the air for a limited amount of time due to battery limits. Be sure to ask your pilot how many batteries he will bring, what is his total flight time, and if he will be able to charge batteries on-site. You want to make sure the drone has enough flight time to cover the entire event.

Can you do post-production?

Collecting drone imagery it’s just the first step in the process of creating a final product. Your drone photography photographs will require cover grading and your drone video will require editing. These activities require skills many drone operators do not have. Very often the drone pilot will outsource these post-production activities. This is not bad but it is something that you should know upfront.

Drone Video Editing Image

How much liability insurance do you carry?

This is critical especially for events where the y drone will fly over people. Drone technology is very reliable but nothing is perfect and mistakes can happen. If the drone pilot causes damage to property or even injury to people this could not only ruin your event but you could also have liability as the employer.

What is your remote pilot certification number?

Commercial drone pilots are required to have a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 107 pilot’s license. you can search the FAA database to confirm their license.

Drone Commercial Pilot License Image

How much will you charge?

Considering that this is your wedding, it’s probably the least important question. You want someone that’s going to give your great pictures and video of your wedding day. However, drone photography can be expensive, so get quotes from a few different pilots before making your decision and make sure you agree on a price upfront.

The Best Aerial Video Shots For Weddings

There are a number of standard aerial perspectives you want to be sure to capture for your wedding. Make sure to provide a list of these shots to your drone pilot or photography company to ensure you get the best results.

The Rocket

The rocket shot starts directly above the vent looking straight down at a height of 30 to 60 feet then flies straight up to a maximum height to capture the widest field of view. This is the view from sitting on top of a rocket

The Circular

The circular shot focuses on one area as the drone flies a circular pattern around the event. This can be enhanced if the drone increases height while circling making a corkscrew pattern.

The Crane

The drone begins approx. 100-ft with the gimbal tilted down to focus on the subject on the ground. The drone descends to ground level while maintaining focus on the subject. This can be combined with zoom to enhance the effect.

The Flyover

The drone flies forward at a fixed height and constant speed by maintaining a fixed view of the subject.

The Tilt Reveal

The drone moves backward slowly at a constant altitude of the camera gimbal tilts upward or downward to reveal the subject.

In all of these cases, the drone operator must have a good understanding of both drone flying and videography. First, the operator must be able to fly the drone smoothly and steadily in order to avoid shaking the camera. Second, the operator must be able to frame the shot correctly

Planning Your Wedding Drone Photography

In addition to the list of specific video shots, you will want to provide some basic direction and constraints to the drone pilot to ensure capture specific portions of the event and that they don’t distract from the ceremony.

Giving direction to your drone pilot

Give clear directions on when not to fly the drone close to the event. During the exchange of vows, we recommend keeping the drone farther from the action to avoid noise distraction and for safety

Focus drone flight on pre-wedding and post-wedding ceremonies. This is where people will be more spread out and the drone will be a perfect method to capture the entire area of activities.

You can choreograph large group movements or large group placements for specific aerial shots. For example. the entire wedding party standing together and waving at the drone makes for an excellent image.

video courtesy of AeroPixel -Scotland. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pe0qdVF6DCI

How Much Will A Drone Wedding Photographer Cost?

Drone pilots are in high demand these days, with businesses and individuals alike seeking to capitalize on the unique perspective that drones can provide.

How much do drone pilots actually cost? The answer, of course, depends on a number of factors, including the pilot’s experience, the type of drone being flown, and the nature of the job. In general, however, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $200 per hour for drone pilot services.

So, if you’re looking to hire a drone pilot for your next project, be sure to factor in these costs.

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Felton Flood, PhD

Felton Flood, PhD

Dr. Flood has 25+ years experience in telecommunications and is a veteran of several startups in Silicon Valley and Northern Virginia. In 2021 he co-founded Lightwave Aerial, applying machine learning and cloud technologies to innovate UAV services.

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