What you need to know when hiring an Aerial/Drone Photographer.
Whether you are in Architecture, Construction, or a Developer at some time you will want to see your project from above. Here are some very resourceful tips before hiring an Aerial Drone Photographer
1 Accidents do happen. Make sure your drone photographer is fully licensed and insured.
The FAA requires all drone operators that are flying for business to complete and
pass the PART 107 exam. After passing your exam you must then send your application through the Federal Aviation Administrations IACRA process to receive your Remote Pilot (SUAS) rating. This is all to ensure that the pilot is flying in a safe and compliant manner, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules. The image to the left is an example of the card that should be carried at all times (usually on a lanyard), displaying that the pilot is licensed. The pilot should also have their certificate of insurance with them at all times. This is not to insure the drone, but to insure the operator if an accident occurs on a job site
2 Where is you project located?
Once you make your decision on your pilot you will want them to know where the project is located. This is probably equally as important as making sure that your pilot is licensed. The reason for this is because there are many areas that are controlled airspace. Any place that is within five miles of an airport is considered controlled airspace. Let's take Hampton Roads in consideration. Below is a map with a radius of five miles around each airport.
As you can see, this covers a large area of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton, and into Newport News.
Now, the rules on how high and where you are going to fly are changing. We now have LAANC that allows licensed pilots to fly in certain areas with automated authorization. LAANC is an acronym for Low Altitude Authorization Notification Capability. Norfolk International (ORF) is an airport facility that has this capability.
What does this mean? In each of those 5-mile radiuses around the airport you will see a grid. Certain grids will allow a licensed pilot to fly at certain heights given that the pilot has all their credentials current. In other areas where there is not an automated authorization the pilot would have to apply for a waiver, which can take up to 90 days to approve or disapprove. This is why it is very important to think ahead when coordinating drone imagery.
3 Everyone with a license is a pilot, but are they an artist?
Your pilots background and expertise in visualization is very important. The cameras on drones have gotten better but you need to make sure that your pilot is
not just any old pilot. Let's face it, with modern drones anyone can fly, but does your pilot understand composition and post processing? Both video and still imagery requires some form of post processing to separate the novices from the pros. You need to look at the pilot’s background and expertise in visualization. The rules of composition in photography are the same, even from an aerial perspective.
4 Have a Contract.
It really is surprising how many Drone/Aerial Photographers will work without a written contract. This is very import for both parties to ensure that everyone is on the same page and everyone understands what is to be expected. No matter how big or small a project is there must be a written contract.
5 When do we start?
Now it is time to figure out when to start your project. A lot of this depends on the #2 topic in this post. If your project is not in controlled airspace then we are a go to start you project any time. If your project is in a controlled airspace then there are two options to consider. If it is in a location where we can fly under the accordance of LAANC, then we can usually get authorization to fly with an automated response. If none of these are an option, than a 90 day waiver must be submitted to grant authorization.
In conclusion, we must stress the importance of hiring a professional to make sure your project is photographed under the accordance of the FAA's regulations..