How To Start A Drone Photography Business

Start Drone Photography Business


Welcome to our blog. Lightwave Aerial provides professional drone services in aerial photo/video, mapping, and inspection. We’ve learned a lot building this business and we’re still learning.

My goal is to present drone technology in a way that’s easy to understand. Also, to give you the real-world practical business perspective we’re learning as we build our company.

Table of Contents

Is This a Good Time To Start A Drone Photography Business?

According to a report by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the commercial drone business market is expected to be worth $13.6 billion by 2025. In 2017, the global drone market was valued at $6.4 billion. The AUVSI report forecasts that the number of drones in use will grow from 2.5 million in 2020 to 7 million by 2030. The commercial drone services market includes a variety of applications such as mapping and surveying, photography and videography, inspection and maintenance, and delivery. So the answer is yes, this is a great time to start a drone business. Drone Business This is part 1 of a 3-part series covering our 3 best ideas to start a drone business. I‘ve decided to split this into 3 parts so I can discuss each one in detail. So, our #1 idea is a drone photography business. This is where most drone businesses start and it’s where we are starting.

Why Should You Consider Drone Photography

There are several reasons you should consider starting with a drone photography business. First, aerial photography is in high demand. There are many businesses and organizations that could benefit from drone photography, such as real estate companies, construction firms, event planners, and more. Second, a drone photography business can be very profitable. If you charge an hourly rate for your services, you could easily make several hundred dollars per hour. Finally, a drone photography business is relatively easy to start. You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to get started.

Start Your Drone Photography Business

Starting a drone photography business is a great way to utilize the capabilities of drones. Aerial photography and videography are in high demand, and there is potential for making money. I will discuss five key topics that have been important for my drone business:
  •  Markets and ease of entry.
  • Target customers and how we’re finding them
  • The best products
  • Product pricing
  • Skills sets, hardware, and software you’ll ned

Markets For Your Drone Photography Business

One of the great things about the drone photography business is that there are many markets for it. Some of the most common markets are real estate, construction, event planning, and marketing.


Real Estate Drone Photography

Real Estate:

Real estate photography is one of the most common markets to start a drone photography business. Many real estate companies use drone photography to show off their properties. It allows potential buyers to see the property from a different perspective and get a better feel for the size of the property. Drone photographers can be used to show off the surrounding area, such as the neighborhood, schools, and parks. Drone for Construction


Another common market for drone photography is construction. Construction companies use drone photography to document the progress of their projects.   It can be used to take before and after photos of the construction site, as well as to document the progress of the project over time. Drone photography can also be used to inspect the construction site for safety hazards.

Event Planning

Drone photography businesses are also popular with event planners. Drone photography can be used to take pictures and videos of events, such as weddings, concerts, and festivals. Event planners can use drone photography to document the event and create a video or photo montage. Drone photography can also be used to market the event to potential attendees.


Many businesses use drone footage for marketing purposes. drone photography can be used to create marketing videos or take pictures for marketing campaigns. Drone photography can also be used to create virtual tours of businesses or properties. drone photography is a great way to show off your business in a unique and visually-appealing way.

Ease Of Entry To Start a Drone Photography Business

Drone operators must obtain a certified pilot’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and they must also register their drones with the agency. Even so, compared to most all other drone services the barrier to entry is relatively low. There are many many real estate companies and agents and they all need photography services. Drone Photo for Real Estate But be aware that drone photography has become increasingly popular in recent years, as drones have become more affordable and easier to use. In response, the number of drone companies is growing and most of them offer drone photography and video services. This means competition is growing so it will require a bit more hustle. The fun factor is high, the pictures and video you can produce are impressive, and you’ll look cool doing it.

Target Customers

When identifying target customers, you should consider how drone photography can add value to their product or service. The best clients for drone photography are businesses that need marketing or advertising videos or photos. Drone photography is a great way to show off their business in a unique and visually-appealing way. Clients use a drone photographer to create marketing videos or take pictures for marketing campaigns. We’ve targeted commercial real estate, corporate and public advertising as our main clients.

Find Customers

Analog Marketing

One of the best ways to find customers when starting a drone photography business is to network with other businesses that may need drone photography services. You can attend events where businesses gather, or you can reach out to businesses directly. Another way to find clients is to market your drone photography business online. You can create a website or blog to showcase your work, and then use social media to promote your business. You can also join drone photography forums and online communities to connect with potential clients. Here are a few things that we do  
  • offer free first-time service
  • identifying properties with high DOM
  • leveraging personal contacts (everyone knows a realtor)
  • Surprisingly we’ve gotten some jobs via cold calling, but you’ll need to commit some time to this
Drone Marketing Calls

Digital Marketing

We have an aggressive digital marketing campaign on social media, this is the new thing and I recommend doing it. Digital marketing can be a useful tool for finding clients. By creating a website and blog devoted to your drone photography business, you will attract interested clients who are looking for a drone photographer. In addition, social media platforms like Facebook, Linkedin, and Instagram can be used to reach out to potential customers and promote your drone photography business. By using digital marketing strategies, businesses can reach a wide audience of potential customers for your drone photography business. Drone Digital Marketing It’s a learning curve but if you integrate this with your website (you do have a website, right?), it’s a powerful combination. You can read our blog on starting a drone business where we discuss the need for a website.

Best Drone Photography Products

We’ve developed 3 basic products: photos, videos, and virtual tours. The first 2 don’t need much explanation, but you can find detailed discussions of aerial photography and videography business opportunities in several of my blogs.  

Virtual Tours

Virtual tours are going to be big.  This is because drones offer a unique perspective that can be used to create interactive virtual tours. The tours are interactive, allowing users to control the drone’s camera and get a closer look at landmarks and attractions. Drones are unique because they can be used for indoor and outdoor work. This means you transition smoothly from an external virtual tour to an indoor tour. Most decent drones can generate panoramas and we use Kuula ( to build our virtual tours. You can integrate photos and videos to create some great commercial products.


There are a few factors to consider when pricing services for your drone photography business.

Your Time & Equipment

First, you need to think about the cost of your time and equipment. Time includes not only the time you spend flying your drone but also the time you spend editing and delivering photos to your client. Make sure to factor in all of your time when pricing your services.   Drone Services Pricing Picture

Your Operations

Next, you need to consider the cost of any additional equipment you might need, such as props or a gimbal. If you’re offering video services, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of storage and delivery. And don’t forget about liability insurance! Drone insurance is essential for any drone photography business, so make sure to factor that into your prices as well.

Your Packages

Finally, you need to decide what kinds of products or packages you want to offer as a drone photographer. Do you want to sell individual photos or videos? Or do you want to offer packages that include multiple products?  I’m very big on pricing transparency so all of our pricing is advertised on the website.  Generally, photo prices range from $125 to $175, video prices range from $250 to $400 and virtual tours range from $300 to $500. I prefer an a la carte pricing so customers can manage their budget.

Hardware, Software, and Skills You’ll Need

Skills & Software

Your drone photography business can be very successful if the proper skills are learned. Some basic drone flying skills will help you get a good start. You will need to obtain a remote pilot certificate. I also recommend taking a course on the basics of photography (framing, rule-of-3, etc.). It’s good to know about lighting, but the newer drones have amazing cameras that don’t require much knowledge. If you want to distinguish your business then I’d recommend spending some time learning color grading for photos and video editing to create marketing products. I use Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop for photos and Adobe Premiere Pro for video editing. These require a bit of learning but if you want to do commercial marketing then you will need to develop professional-level skills for your drone photography business.


Of course, you’ll need to get your drone. I use the DJI Air2S as my photography drone and have been completely satisfied. It’s not too expensive, the camera is awesome, it’s easy to fly, and it has a small footprint so I don’t attract too much attention. Whatever you choose to start a drone photography business, I recommend a smaller drone like the DJI Mini or DJ Air2. These both have great cameras, are durable, and won’t break the bank. As a drone pilot for photography, you’ll only need basic proficiency because most of the best videos can be obtained using intelligent flight capabilities. Drone Photography Air 2S So there’s a LOT to consider to start a drone photography business. I’ve observed a significant increase in the number of drone photography services popping up, but most of them do not provide professional video editing so there are plenty of opportunities if you’re willing to invest some time into building an advanced skill set. Before you start a drone photography business, you’ll need to clearly identify your markets and then sell your products. See my blog “First 8 Things I did To Start My Business” for information on how to start your business. Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about drone photography businesses.

Benefits of Drone Photography

Drone photography can provide a unique perspective for your customers. Some benefits of drone photography include: – obtaining angles that are not possible with a traditional camera – getting shots of inaccessible areas – showing property from a new perspective – creating videos that are more interesting than traditional home tours There are many reasons aerial photography is better than traditional photography. For one, drone photography gives you a much wider perspective. With a drone, you can capture photos and videos from angles that are not possible with traditional cameras. This makes your photos and videos more interesting and dynamic. Drone photography is also great for capturing landscapes and architecture. With a drone, you can easily get high-up shots that show off the beauty of a landscape or the impressive architecture of a building. These types of shots are very popular with buyers and can help you sell your photos and videos for a higher price. Drone Photography Mavic Air 2S

Tips For Flying a Drone For Photography

When it comes to your drone photography business, there are a few things you can do to make your shots even better. Here are a few tips: 1. Plan your shots ahead of time. This will help you make the most of your time when you’re flying. 2. Scout the area before you fly. Make sure there are no obstacles in the way of your shot. 3. Practice flying before you attempt your flight. This will help you get a feel for the drone and avoid any accidents. 4. Invest in a quality drone camera. This will make a big difference in the quality of your photos and videos. 5. Use editing software to enhance the quality of your photos and videos. This can make them even more impressive and help you sell them for a higher price.

How To Market Your Photos

If you have a drone and an eye for photography, you may be wondering how to turn your hobby into a money-making venture. Luckily, there are a number of ways to market your drone photos and videos and start earning an income.

Stock Photo Sites

What you first start a drone photography business consider selling your photos and videos online through stock image sites. These sites allow people to purchase images and videos for use in their own projects. Many stock photo and video websites now accept submissions from drone photographers. By submitting your best work to these sites, you can earn passive income each time someone downloads one of your photos or videos.

Make a Portfolio

Create a portfolio of your best work. This will give potential clients an idea of your style and the quality of your work. By working with businesses or individuals who need your services, you can provide them with the shots they want and negotiate a fee.

Online Advertising

Create a website or social media account dedicated to your drone photography business. This is a great way to reach out to potential clients and show off your work. Social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube provide an ideal way to showcase your work to a wide audience.

Trade Shows

Another way to market your drone photography business is by attending trade shows and events related to drone technology. This is a great opportunity to network with other drone enthusiasts and professionals, and it can help you get your name out there. You can also offer demonstration flights or workshops at these events to show off your skills. With a little effort, you can easily turn your drone photography into a profitable business.

How Much Do Aerial Photographers Make

The drone photography business is a relatively new industry, and as such, there is no set standard for how much drone photographers can expect to earn. Rates will vary depending on the client, the project, and the level of experience of the photographer. However, when starting a drone photography business can typically charge anywhere from $100 to $500 per hour. In some cases, the aerial photography business may also receive a percentage of the profits from the sale of their photos. When starting a drone photography business, expect to earn on the lower end of that range, but those with more experience can command higher rates. Ultimately, how much drone photographers make will depend on a number of factors. However, with the right skills and a bit of business savvy, your drone photography business can earn a very healthy income.


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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.