Before the rise of drone use among the general public, the ones who did have them used it as a way to earn money. Yes, before everyone had their own drone with high definition cameras, companies relied on drone owners to get footage. Yes, but a few years ago, taking high-altitude aerial photographs was a job worth having.
This led to brilliant images and videos captured from an angle that people have never seen before. They were state-of-the-art images with high resolution and detail. Best part? These images taken were fresh to the public eye. Drones offered a closer look into the skies. They have a more personal approach compared to being aboard a plane or a helicopter. Best of all, it is incredibly affordable.
Now it seems that window for profit may be soon gone. Professional drone flyers may soon have to hang it up.
Photography with Drones:
With users increasing globally as well as looser regulations regarding airspace, manual drone pilots may soon become extinct. Just three years ago, in 2015, these professional drone flyers made about $2000 per day. Now, with all the factors considered, it is down to $175. A staggering downfall to what used to be a highly profitable gig. What happened to all the market these drone users had before? Well, it’s simple. The big corporations took them.
Small drone owners must abide strict regulations to ensure safety. Safety for both the owner as well as the people around them. Their drones must not go past 400 meters above the ground. They must also have a direct visual on their drones at all times. Nighttime flights also have severely heavy regulations. After all, it is already difficult for people to see drones during the day. At night, they are practically invisible. This goes exponentially dangerous for people in airports and busy airspaces.
Now, commercial businesses can do what the drone owners do, but with a large difference. They are not bound by the regulations set for singular drone users. Meaning, they can use drones at nighttime, with looser guidelines on distance allowed traveled. Drones also now can go beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS). Civilian drones also cannot fly in crowded areas. Artificial Intelligence also put a dent into the manually controlled drone business. With AI, drones flew more with less input.
With limited altitude reach and strict regulations, these professional drone photographers could not compete. Big companies took over, and what was then a lucrative job is now just another hobby.
What can the lowly drone photographers do to compete? Sadly, like with all smaller market businesses being taken over by big corporations, the future may not look so bright.