Drone photography prices and FAQs
In the United Kingdom, the average starting cost of aerial photography is anywhere between £175-£300. However, as expected, there are a range of factors that influence drone photography prices! In this guide, we take a look at factors that affect aerial photography prices so you know what to look out for.
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Have you ever been flipping through a real estate brochure and marvelled at the astounding photographs of massive estates? Or what about a magazine displaying stunning landscape photos that capture a whole town, or those breathtaking sunset photos? Aerial photography is something that has been in existence for quite some time, however the introduction of drone photography has truly revolutionised the aerial photography market. Find out what influences drone photography prices here.
Differences Between Aerial Photography and Drone Photography
While drone photography does fall under the umbrella of aerial photography, there are a few differences that make them distinct categories. Drone photography has allowed small businesses, and normal people who perhaps have a requirement, to obtain aerial photography at a more affordable price; this is best seen within the real estate world, in which many agents are using drone photographers to capture impressive shots and vantage points that cannot normally be seen that help sell the house or property. Aerial photography is airborne photography that is produced by a device flying over a certain area, whether it is connected to an airplane, helicopter, blimp, hot air balloon and even pigeons or kites! So, let’s look at what sets drone photography apart from traditional aerial photography:
- Affordability: drone photography is much cheaper, especially because you can find many photographers that do not actually have a license for their drone; those that do are likely to charge higher prices.
- Practicality: drones can be so much more practical as they can fit into small, tight spaces that traditional aerial devices, such as helicopters or planes, cannot. They can also hover at low elevations to get amazing shots, whereas other aerial devices aren’t capable of doing this.
- Quality of the images: of course, there are a range of drones, as there are with any product, and the better quality the drone, the better the picture quality you can expect. There are hundreds of cheap and mid-range drones that produce good photos, but these are better suited for personal use, not professional. More traditional forms of aerial photography are expensive, but you are guaranteed impressive photos. Before settling for a drone photographer, you should always check out the specs of their equipment.
- Rate of turnaround: you can expect your photos much quicker when you use a drone photographer, as little as 24 hours to several days if you only require still shots.
Drone photography is often a part of big commercial shoots. Find out more about commercial photography rates and the factors that can affect the price.
Purposes of Aerial Photography
Whether you opt for traditional aerial photography or drones, this kind of photography is used by a range of industries to either help sell or promote services and are breathtaking marketing materials, whether you use photography or videography, or a combination.
- Hospitality: display your grounds and facilities
- Sales and lettings: attract tenants and homeowners with attractive shots of homes and areas surrounding areas
- Construction projects: a great way to track progress and communicate that to the clients
- Golf course: what better way to display your course than with beautiful aerial scenes of your courses to help attract new members
- Personal events: weddings and other large gatherings are a perfect place to use aerial photography to capture some great images and perhaps even include some videography to get in on the action. Read more about wedding photography prices here
Types of Aerial Photography
The most common kinds of aerial photography are those that are taken at an angle to the ground, oblique images, or those with the camera pointing down vertically, vertical images. There are a few other types too:
- Photogrammetry: these are used to create large image maps that piece together several vertical images into one; these are typically used in surveying or mapping, as measurements can be taken from these kinds of images.
- Stereo aerial photography: by taking a range of images at an aerial view, a 3-dimensional image can be created; this kind of imagery was initially used for military purposes, but is now used for cartography, surveying and even for artistic purposes.
- Orthophotos: also known as orthophotomaps, are used for precise mapping as it takes an aerial image and corrects it geometrically and even uses layers of images placed on top of a digitally created elevation to create 3-dimensional landscapes. The best example of this kind of aerial photography in use is with Google Maps and Google Earth.
Drone Terms Revealed
There can be some confusing acronyms for drones that are usually used before or after the word, here’s what they mean:
SUA – small unmanned aircraft
SUSA - small unmanned surveillance aircraft
UAV - unmanned aerial vehicle
RPA – remotely piloted aircraft
RPAS - remotely piloted aircraft system
UAS – unmanned aircraft systems
UA - unmanned aircraft
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Factors Affecting Aerial or Drone Photography Prices
There are quite a few considerations that you need to bear in mind that can have a huge impact on the price of your aerial photography. Let’s take a look at these factors so you know exactly what you need to be discussing with your photographer to get an accurate quote.
Type of Project
Discuss what you are requiring the aerial photography for to give your photographer an idea of what shots they need to be getting and to give them a feel for the project or event you have in mind. Typically, the purpose of the project or event will dictate the time required, which impacts price. For example a dramatic wedding shoot will likely involve greater cost compared to a product photoshoot. Find out more about product photography pricing and the factors that influence it.
Size of Project
The size of the project you are wanting to shoot will have bearing on time and price. Of course, the larger an estate to cover, for example, the longer the photographer will be required to get an ideal amount of photos. It is always a good idea to discuss how many photos you expect from a session so that your photographer can give you an idea of the time that would be required to fulfil your expectations.
There is more to aerial photography than simply taking the photos or shooting videos! Depending on the kind of aerial device used, there could be a great deal of set up time that is required and would be factored into the overall time, therefore cost. If you are wanting aerial photography and videography to cover your wedding, for example, you would probably want them there to cover the ceremony or perhaps the reception; most photographers will have a full day or half day rate.
It is generally always cheaper to find photographers that are local to you, although sometimes the best aerial photographers are located some way away and will charge more to travel to the destination of the shoot.
Type of Aerial Device
As we have discussed, drones have completely revolutionized the aerial photography sector of photography and have become one of the most commonly used aerial devices. However, some projects and applications of aerial photography require a device that can reach greater altitudes; drones have a legal restriction of 400ft. Some aerial devices, like a plane or helicopter, require more time to set up and this time would be factored into the price, even though their airtime could be less than that of a drone.
Photography/Videography or Both
Do you require just photos, videos or a mixture of both? Most people using aerial footage will want a mixture of both to tell a story. For example, a real estate agency is likely to use a combination so you can get a true feel of sweeping views. It is important to discuss your expectations with the photographer as videography sometimes requires additional equipment and will incur an additional cost. The time required for editing video footage is also much more lengthy and if you are expecting them to create a ‘movie’ of sorts, this takes skill and time, so be prepared to pay more for this service.
Legality and Insurance
For most aerial photography the devices used will be legal and insured, but with drone photography, there are a large number of people who claim to be photographers when it is simply a hobby. These people who view it more as a hobby tend not to have insurance, and while you may find a drone photographer for the fraction of a price compared to that of a professional, they won’t have the skills, experience or necessary equipment to do the job to a professional, high-quality level.
You will notice the price can significantly differ between drone photographers and this is usually a tell-tale sign of who is professional and who is doing it as a hobby. A hobby drone photographer will not be legally certified and could actually get you in trouble (and themselves) if they charge for services. Anyone who wants to offer drone photography should have approval with Permission For Commercial Operations (PfCO). Normally, a professional, certified drone photographer will charge about £200 as a bare minimum for an aerial photo session of a property and a marketing video shoot could be £500.
Whether you are investing in your own drone or are looking to hire a professional, there are regulations that need to be considered. If you are flying for fun you won’t require anything, but you should not sell or make money from any photos you take. Professional drone photographers are required to pass a test and receive certification. Here are some basic drone rules of which you need to be aware:
- Drones weighing more than 250g must be registered
- Maximum flying height is 400ft
- Drone must be kept in sight
- Cannot be flown in restricted airspace
- Don’t fly near any other kinds of aircrafts, especially near airports
- Don’t fly over groups of people (unless of course it is for a wedding or event that you have consent to shoot, but it should not exceed more than 1,000 people)
- Don’t fly over stadiums or sporting events (unless with permission)
Drone Photography Prices FAQs
What is a drone?
A drone is the colloquial term that is used for an unmanned aerial vehicle; this vehicle is essentially a flying robot that is controlled by either automated software or a remote control device.
What weather can they fly in?
The more clear the weather, the better the photos! Rainy and windy weather is not suitable for drone photography and most drones will not fly in winds above 15-22mph on average; this figure will be dependent on the type of drone, so always speak with your photographer about this, especially if you are wanting to shoot in a particularly windy area. Rain can cause damage to drones, so most drone operators will not fly them in any sort of rain.
What happens on arrival?
Most photographers will set up their kit which usually takes about 30 minutes or so. You will usually get a brief before any equipment goes up to confirm exactly what you want. Most drones have a livestream video monitor that allows you to watch as the drone is in operation, so you can see exactly what is going on.
Do I need to be on site for the shoot?
If you are shooting for property, construction or hospitality purposes you wouldn’t need to be on site, unless you want to, of course! You can discuss with your photographer which you would prefer to do. Whether you are in attendance or not, your expectations should always be discussed prior to the day of the shoot so the photographer knows what they are there to do and achieve.
Can they be flown at night?
If you require nighttime photography, you will need to look for operators that have special certification from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) because a different permit is required for this.
Aerial photography, whether captured with a drone or other aerial device, is perfect for many industries or for those wanting to capture an event, like a wedding, in which you would not want to forget any details! Prices do vary, but you should always request portfolios and review these; in most cases, you will see that the work they are capable of producing is on par with the price being charged. A picture is worth a thousand words and you can really make an impact with a beautiful aerial shot!
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