everything you need to know about drone wedding photography

Everything You Need to Know About Drone Photography

The DJI Mavic 3 with the DJI RC Controller is a winning combo for drone work.

If you’re new to drone photography, this article will give you an overview of everything you need to know. I’ve been flying drones professionally for over 5 years now and have come to enjoy the perspective they create! There are so many fun opportunities to create interesting visuals and get a camera in a unique position.

To me, the most effective way to think about drone photography is putting a camera in a position that you can’t reach with your own two feet. Whether it’s top-down or looking back toward a cliff from past the edge, drones allow you unlimited perspectives when it comes to making images.

The classic saying in photography is “get high, get low, get close, get far” to create interesting perspectives. A drone takes that creativity to a whole new level because you can put a camera almost anywhere.

The Benefits of Drone Photography

Sailing in Maryland captured on the DJI Mavic 3

When it comes to the benefits of drone photography, there are many. Drone photography is in demand in many industries. Therefore, drone photography can be profitable. Because people need to hire licensed drone pilots, it also allows you to highlight your services as a licensed professional and separate yourself from the hobbyists in the market.

Drone wedding photography is also another opportunity to add a unique offering to your packages. As a licensed drone operator, you can offer wedding photography and videography at an additional cost to other wedding photographers. In many cases, it can also separate your images creatively because you can capture unique images that photographers without a drone cannot match.

Drone Videography

When it comes to drone wedding videography, we’ve found this to be the most useful way to incorporate a drone camera. Having aerial footage in your wedding films is an awesome way to increase the production value. Setting the scene with drone footage can give a sense of place and is an excellent way to show a dynamic perspective of the wedding day.

Drone footage is super fun to use in videos but it can also be a tricky balance to not disrupt the wedding guests with a noisy drone. We try to be mindful of how disruptive we are while still creating the best quality drone photos and videos we can.

In addition to drone wedding photography and videography, we also use drones for our commercial work. Whether we’re documenting an athlete or capturing drone photos of a construction site, there is a demand for being a drone photographer that will allow you to earn money. Drone operators are in demand and I only see the market growing.

Learning to Operate Your Drone

Landing the DJI Mavic 3 on a commercial job this past summer.

Getting comfortable flying your drone is one of the first and most important things to do before you can earn money as a drone operator. Sure, you can find an easy gig taking photos of construction projects but if you are hired to create a smooth cinematic video, you’ve got to put in some hours behind the controls.

It all comes down to practice. There are several exercises and strategies to becoming a smooth pilot but there isn’t a substitute for putting lots of time into flying your drone. Some of the recent advancements in drones will help you get smoother footage (I always recommend Cine mode if you’re capturing video). I also recommend customizing your gain and expo tuning settings so that you avoid jerky movements. This can take a little time to dial in but makes a big difference when recording video.

There are a lot of things to learn when getting a handle on operating your drone. Once you learn to take off and land comfortably, fly smoothly, and master the controls, you might consider learning some of the more nuanced details.

Drone Operation Tips

When I first started flying I quickly learned to take into account other factors like the wind, surrounding obstacles, and what sort of environmental factors might affect my ability to fly. Are there powerlines that I might need to avoid? Are there obstacles that might interrupt the connection between the drone and the controller?

Is the wind gusting strongly which could push my drone into an obstacle? Where will I land? What if I lose connection with the drone, have I set the Return to Home Altitude properly and will my drone encounter any obstacles?

It’s important to think through the possible challenges you might have and what the result would be. It might sound overly cautious but it’s better to think it through on the ground and avoid crashing your drone! Having crashed several times, I promise it’s worth it!

Getting Your Drone License

Having your Part 107 license is a critical step in earning money from your drone photography. Sure, you can quietly fly under the radar and only fly your drone in places you won’t get caught without a license but this is setting yourself up for failure. It’s relatively easy to do and getting your license from the Federal Aviation Administration (Part 107) is the right choice. You’ll learn some useful information that can help you be a better/safer drone photographer. There is also a ton of useless info in the certification process but that’s just the way it goes.

The process to get your license is a little different for everyone but I did the following:

  • Study some Youtube videos (check out the longer ones with sample questions)

  • Study some practice tests to make sure you’ve mastered the info

  • Register and take the test at a certified testing center

  • Get licensed and go earn some money

Once You Have Your Drone License

After passing the test, you’ll officially be licensed as a drone pilot and can legally earn money operating your drone. I keep my license in my drone kit but have never been stopped or asked to present it to anyone.

The last step that I highly recommend is ensuring you have proper insurance in place to cover your activities if an incident occurs. It also gives me the confidence to offer my services professionally knowing that I can provide proof of insurance when asked.

The Best Drones for Photography and Videography

DJI Mavic 3 in flight on a photoshoot, one of the most capable compact drones available.

One of my favorite parts of drone photography is the gear! There is a constant flow of new tech and up to this point, I’ve had the opportunity to fly over a dozen different drones.

With that in mind, the main company to look at is DJI. They have consistently been producing the best quality drones at the best price. There are numerous models at different price points and I often recommend shopping the used market on eBay to find a deal.

DJI Air 2S

When it comes to the best drone for Photography, one model stands out. The DJI Air 2S:

You can watch the above video on why I think this is one of the best drones on the market if you’re looking for a purely photography-focused drone. For under $1000, you can get high-resolution images (20 megapixels) that are easily color gradeable.

Check it out here.

There are a ton of other features packed into this drone but the main thing that stands out is its high-quality sensor in a compact package.

DJI Mavic 3 Pro

If you want the best drone for photography and videography on the market right now, I recommend the Mavic 3 Pro. The Mavic 3 Pro is the best combination of features/quality as well as compact and capable. It is the top-of-the-line folding drone that DJI offers and has awesome specs for both photography and videography.

Check it out here.

For wedding photography, it offers high-quality images at 3 different focal lengths giving the option of different perspectives. For wedding drones, it produces high-resolution 5.3k video with great dynamic range.

You can view my review of the original DJI Mavic 3 below which is a Mavic 3 Pro with one less lens on the gimbal.

I’ve more recently been flying the Mavic 3 Pro and will be reviewing it as soon as I’ve had a chance to put it fully through it’s paces. So far I really like have the medium telephoto camera that isn’t as zoomed in as the tele lense of the original Mavic 3.

Drone Landscape and Adventure Photography

Landscape and adventure photos are some of my favorite subjects when using a drone. There are so many images that look incredible from an aerial perspective. A forest from the ground can be incredible but you can see the forest for the trees when you launch a drone up above the canopy of trees.

In terms of adventure photography, it is awesome to be able to film a subject moving through the landscape but sometimes this is impractical because of the complexity of the terrain. This is where a drone really shines.

You can get smooth footage whether you’re following a skier or chasing a surfer. With recent drones like the DJI Mavic 3 Pro you’re no longer limited to a wide angle perspective. You can now incorporate parallax and get a closer perspective on your subjects.

Drone Wedding Photography

This was shot on the original Mavic but now I’d recommend the DJI Mavic Air2S

Wedding photography with a drone is something I love to add to my galleries because it gives you a unique look at the day. It is especially helpful when you can get a camera in a place that was previously unavailable. This could be shooting back toward your couple from a cliff edge or getting a top-down perspective with long sunset shadows on the beach. I find myself climbing fewer trees now that I’ve been using my drone for wedding photography.

In addition to drone wedding photos, I also really enjoy adding drone footage to my wedding video. Some wedding venues are sensitive about drones so I try to be as discreet as possible but it can really add to the production value to use some aerial shots to a wedding. Special moments like the ceremony are often disrupted by the sound of a drone so I try to be selective when choosing what shots to capture.

Drone wedding photography and videography are also excellent ways to differentiate yourself in the market. It takes some effort to get licensed so drone users may find that they can attract new clients that appreciate aerial photography or videography. You don’t even have to buy one of the top drones to get started. In fact, you can get an excellent drone for an affordable price if you’re willing to sacrifice some features like extended flight time or high-resolution sensors that come on larger drones.

Can I use a drone for wedding photography?

Yes, but make sure your wedding venue is ok with drone work and make sure you get an FAA part 107 remote pilot license as well as insurance before you take your new drone out on someone’s special day.

Factors that might affect your ability to fly on the wedding day are inclement weather, weather conditions, lack of liability insurance, national parks (no drones), and private property limitations.

When can’t you use a drone at a wedding?

Factors that might affect your ability to fly on the wedding day are inclement weather, weather conditions, lack of liability insurance, national parks (no drones), and private property limitations.

Where do drone wedding photography and videography work best?

To get great shots with wedding drone photography, you’ll want to follow some of the same principles as with all photography: great light, interesting moments, and good composition.

Wedding photos in good light are so much more interesting so you should plan to fly your drone near sunrise and sunset as long as the wedding venue is ok with drones. Many videographers will get some scene-setting shots earlier in the day and capture some dramatic images of the couple at sunset.

Drones are perfect for outdoor weddings

Because flying indoors is very difficult with many drones (crashes are an important factor), outdoor weddings are ideal for drones. Capturing the sweeping views from the air is a fun way to show off the location to your clients.

Drone Wedding Photography Ideas

There are a variety of perspectives for a drone (nearly unlimited) so planning ahead is very helpful. I suggest scouting in person and thinking of the types of images you would like to create if you could put your camera anywhere (over water, out over cliffs, above the venue, etc. For specifically top-down shots, use Google Earth to plan. It can help to identify textures and think about how the light will fall across the landscape. A classic top-down drone wedding photography idea is couples walking on the beach with long shadows. Close-ups are hard so think of large dramatic views.

Which drone is best for wedding photography?

The DJI Air 2S is perfect for photography because of it’s large sensor.

If you’re purely looking at drones for photographers (not videographers) I highly recommend the DJI Air 2S. This drone has a one-inch sensor that makes great images at a native 20 megapixels (not pixel-shifted like many other DJI drones).

The most important thing for drone wedding photography is getting enough resolution/detail and being able to color grade your images. The DJI Air 2S has both.

How much do drone wedding photography and videography cost?

Drone wedding photography and videography can be expensive. A professional drone can run in the 3000+ dollar range plus the training and time it takes to become licensed and proficient enough to operate your drone effectively.

Some photographers charge extra for drone wedding photography and videography. Other higher-end photographers/videographers include a drone in their offerings at no extra charge.

Additional Gear Resources and Photography Tips

If you’re looking to dive deeper into gear that will help you take great photos, the links below might help. You can also check out gear reviews on YouTube.

About the author

I am Marc Bergreen, one half of a husband and wife photography team specializing in Colorado wedding photography and videography, and adventure photography. If you need advice on the best gear for your goals, reach out. Based in Evergreen Colorado, we travel wherever we’re needed!

Download our free guide on how to build a creative business and a life you love. Don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know how we can help! If we link to a product we love, Amazon links are affiliate links.

In the meantime, remember to…

love adventurously bergreen photography

Similar Posts