Happy Thursday, everyone! First of all – thank you so much for all the love on my Taha’a + Moorea posts — it was truly the trip of my dreams and we got to experience so many magical moments. Talk about a tongue twister, LOL! Between this trip and several of the shots around here in Hawaii, I’ve gotten several questions about our aerial photography. You know the ones I’m talking about – those beautiful from-above shots of beaches, hotels, the ocean, etc. If you were unsure, they are all 100% taken with a drone. Drone photography and videography here in Hawaii is really popular and I’m so glad that Dane and I pulled the trigger on one last year for our life here and travel adventures. And a special shoutout here to Nadine who encouraged me to write this post + share! So first things first – this is the drone we have + the package we bought. We bought the package, because the add-ons are really useful if you plan to be out flying a lot. It came highly recommended to us by a friend who has the same one and we really love it. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s chat all things personal drone + drone photography!
FAQ: Our Personal Drone + Drone Photography
What drone do you have?
We fly a DJI Mavic Pro. This is, of course, the only drone I have experience with, but I can tell you that we both really like it. The app is pretty easy to use and I’ve been impressed with the photo quality. It gets two thumbs up from us!
Is there an official process for using a personal drone?
I get this one a lot and although we use ours for the purposes of personal use and photography for now, there is a certain protocol you’re supposed to use for flying one. Once you have your drone, it needs to be registered with the FAA as an unmanned aircraft. More info on that here. This is important for many reasons (that you can read about on their site), but namely – it’s the law. Dane also worked with a friend to learn to fly ours safely, respectfully and within the restrictions of using them for non-commercial use. It took him a good 2 months before we felt confident enough to fly freely over the wide open ocean, which seems like awhile, but they are a big investment, so we both wanted to make sure we weren’t (literally) tossing out over a thousand dollars. So, Dane flies and I spot it, because this whole operation is a two-person show 😉 Dane says “I’m not a flying expert by any means, but I took time to read all that I could after we purchased ours and spent time with my friend who helped me understand what works/doesn’t work. Plus, there are some great YouTube tutorials.”
Are there restrictions for flying personal drones?
Yes and you need to be very careful about when and where you fly. There are no fly zones (we use the app Hover to check), as well as temporary hazard zones (here is a great list to find them) and the fines can be pretty hefty, so it’s important to do your research! Also, if you are within 5 miles of an airport, any flying needs to be submitted to the airport. The FAA says “You must contact any airports (including heliports and sea-based airports) and air traffic control towers within five miles of your proposed area of operations if flying under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (Public Law 112-95, Section 336).”
What about flying the drone when you travel?
A big reason we wanted to invest in a drone was for our travels. We love using photos from our travels to decorate our home, so this is mainly what we use it for (and of course photos for my blog, social media, etc). Before we travel anywhere, we contact the tourism board for the country or city’s policy on flying drones and/or apply for proper permitting. Some cities have banned them without proper permitting and they are banned altogether in several countries. I cannot stress enough how important it is to know what the policies are before you go – we’ve had friends who travel with their drone, only to have it confiscated at customs. Do the research! It’s also important to note here that some resorts and hotel properties have policies against drones, so double check before you just launch and snap.
Do you edit your photos?
You bet I do! Just like I edit my regular photos and underwater photos, I edit all drone photos using Lightroom.
Those are the most common questions I’ve gotten, but I’m happy to answer any I may have missed or that you’re curious about. If you’re considering getting a drone or interested in drone photography, I hope you found this helpful. The FAA shares these tips for flying drones. While they seem like they might be common sense, they’re good things to keep in mind!
Some Drone Rules To Keep In Mind