drone photography

Drone Photography: A Comprehensive Guide

One of the newest and most tech-heavy forms of photography to impact the industry in recent years has to be drone photography. Aerial drone photography is changing the way that we look at photos and videos and it can be a great addition to your current photography profile.

What is Drone Photography?

So, what exactly is drone photography? It is a type of photography that uses flying drones to help you take aerial photos and videos of landscapes, urban areas and more. Drone photography allows us to take photos and videos from perspectives that we have never been able to take before.

Griffith Park Sunrise

Best Drones For Photography

Looking for the best photography drone? Well, there are a few different types. There are drones you can attach a Go Pro camera to and those that are meant solely for taking photos and videos and come with their own device built-in.

The good news is that drone cameras and video cameras are no longer a novelty, there are many different types of drone and drone tripods available. Here are a few things to consider when trying to find the best drone for your photography needs:

  • Sensors to prevent collision
  • Controls—either through your phone and your phone’s WiFi or with a separate controller
  • Camera capabilities, if the camera is included (many cameras can get 4K HDR Video and 12 MP camera resolution)
  • Battery life (most drones have around a 30 minute battery life)
  • Maximum speed
  • Weight and portability

Depending on your own needs and your budget, you will want to find the best drone cameras that fit within these categories and think about how you are planning on using these drones.


View this post on Instagram


SKYE —————————————————————————— Droning is the closest to flying i’ll ever get. But I’m like a bird I’ll only fly away I don’t know where my soul is (Soul is) I don’t know where my home is… Imagine if you could sit on your drone. Like if it had a saddle. 😮 wow . that would be fun until you crashed your drone or it ran out of batteries 😭😭 Anyways have a nice weekend and stay positive. #namaste p.s. that tiny little person on the peak isn’t me but imagine it is… Actually, imagine it’s you and that you’re a daring adventurer named Claude… or if you self identify as female: Claudette. Or if you self identify as something else: Theydette . I self identify as a Turtle 🐢 Anyway I hope you’re not reading this still . If so bye #bwp082 #cwp082 #scotland #skye #beautifuldestinations #igkillers004 #moonrise #neverstopexploring #rei #bbcearth #dji #drone #natgeoyourshot #thenorthface #patagonia #nasa #isleofskye

A post shared by Dhaval (@dhavalilama) on

Drone Photography Gear and Extras

In addition to having the right drone, there are other pieces of gear and accessories that you may want to implement into your photography efforts.

  • A good memory card. Remember, it takes a lot of planning, time and effort to get your drone in the air and a lot more planning, time and effort to get it back down. With this in mind you don’t want to be changing your memory card throughout your shoot—and you don’t want to accidentally miss a great aerial shot.
  • A Lanyard. This can help you keep your controller close to you even when you don’t need it—so you can free up your hands and still be ready to take control.
  • Battery Charging Device. With this type of device you can charge multiple batteries at once, so you can have fully-charged batteries ready for your drone whenever you go out and fly. This will allow you to have longer trips when flying your device.
  • Prop Guards– These guards are designed to help keep your propeller blades safe should your drone bump into any objects while you fly—they are an accessory that can save you a great deal of money.

A Brief History of Drone Photography

Before you can really get a grasp on drone photography and how it works—it is important to have an idea of the history behind drone photography. While drones have had their place in the military for decades, the first non-military drone use really began in 2006—when drones were used to inspect pipeline and spray pesticides.

This was also the year that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first issues a commercial drone permit. At this time, the public also started becoming interested in drones and their capabilities and after seeing what a drone attached to a camera could do—drones became more than just for commercial and military use—they became a popular device for public consumption as well.

Los Angeles Drone Photography

Drone Over Echo Park Lake, Los Angeles

Drone Photography Safety and Rules

Before you get out and start taking drone photos, you need to be aware of the safety and rules that regulate this type of photography. There are important safety precautions that you will need to take to keep you and others safe and certain rules that can help protect privacy as well.

No Fly Zones

One of the most important things to be aware of when shooting drone photos are the “No Fly Zones.” Before you start using your drone, you should scout the surrounding area. Airports, national memorials, the Mall in D.C. and most national parks are all “no fly” zones.

One of the best ways to do this is to use an app such as B4UFly—this will give you an idea if an area is prohibited for drone activity or not. Apps like this will also show you the radius around an airport, which you will need to avoid for obvious reasons.

National Park Restrictions

Many people understandably want to take photos in beautiful settings such as national parks. However, national parks have many drone restrictions. Since 2014, the National Parks have been deemed “no drone” areas as any drone is technically an unmanned aircraft.

There are very few exceptions to this rule, so it is best to assume that all national parks are zone-free areas.

Drone Volcano

Personal Safety

Here are a few other personal safety tips that will keep you and your equipment safe when using a drone.

  • Keep the drone under 400 feet away.
  • Stay away from power lines and airports
  • You should always register your new drone with the FAA
  • Always keep your drone in flight before you fly
  • Practice using your drone at lower heights before going higher—where conditions are more unpredictable.

The best thing you can do is to practice in open rural areas where there is little risk of harming others or hitting property until you have a better grasp on your drone.

Forest Drone

Types of Drone Photography

Most drone use—can be classified as either drone videography, or drone photography.

Drone Videography

One of the most common ways that drone technology is utilized today is through videography. Drone videography can capture massive landscapes and take swooping videos unlike any that have been taken before. Many drone video cameras have impressive 4K or 1080p shooting capabilities which can help you capture stunning videos.

Drone Photography Tips

Ready to get out there and start using your drone to take photos and videos? Here are a few drone photography tips that can help take your images to the next level.

1.    Shoot in RAW

Consider taking your drone photos in RAW form. There are many benefits of shooting in RAW—you get the highest level of quality, and better detail. You can also record greater levels of brightness. These are all benefits that not only help with normal photos but especially with aerial drone photos.

2.    Shoot at Lower ISO

Want to keep your drone photos looking crystal-clear? Then you need to start shooting at a lower ISO. This will prevent too much noise from your drone photos and help your colors show up in a more vivid manner. This is particularly important when shooting landscapes from drones—which is what most people use their drones for.

Drone Idylwild

3.    User Camera Lens Filters

Lens filters can really make a difference in the quality of your photos when shooting from a drone. There are a few situations where you might want to use filters.

UV Filters– These are great for blocking ultraviolet-wavelength light that is coming right to your lens, especially when that lens is hundreds of feet up in the air.

ND Filters- This is one of the most common filters for those shooting aerial photography. Think of your ND lens as a pair of sunglasses for your camera. It can reduce light levels without altering color.

Polarizing Filters- These filters are great for videographers using drones. They will help reduce glare on your content.

4.    Utilize the Grid

Capturing the rule of thirds when taking photos from a drone can be slightly more complex than when you attempt to do this with a camera in your hand. This is why you should use the grid lines in your camera settings—it can help you make sure your shot still abides by the rule of thirds, so you still get some professional-looking results.

whale drone

Drone capture of a blue whale

5.    Shoot in Manual Mode

Before you start snapping your drone photos, make sure that you put your camera in manual mode. This will help you get your photos right from the start and help you save time in post-production. It provides you with more control and will help you overexpose or underexpose those images from way up high.

6.    Shoot in Portrait and Landscape

A final tip to keep in mind when taking drone photos is to shoot in both portrait and landscape modes. It can be easy to just try to shoot in landscape when taking photos from a drone as you are trying to capture large areas—but portrait mode can also deliver some outstanding pictures and let your drone images stand out from the crowd.


Keep these tips in mind as you start utilizing drone technology in all of your photo and video endeavors. Using a drone to take images and videos can be a fun way to expand your photography portfolio and a great new hobby to pick up as well.

Leave a Reply

Next ArticleWhat is ISO? Dhavalilama’s Photo Basics