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Hawkmoon

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Hello there!

I've been a photographer for the past 15+ years, from freelance to fine art, from higher education to editing/restoration and professional printing.
Now I've got it in my head I want to be a professional UAV Photographer, and am currently studying for my part 107 test.

Any advice is welcomed and most appreciated.

I intend to jump right in with real estate, construction and civil photography (parks dept, forest service, etc), then move on to inspection (flir) and mapping.
I've been pouring over the internet, including this sight, and have boiled down my selection of 'first UAV' to (@ $2000 range):

Mavic 2 pro (on the fence with this one given security issues with DJI)
Phantom 4 Pro + (on the fence with this one due to DJI most likely ending the Phantom line, plus it's dorky and has a few limits with obscured camera angles, plus security concerns with DJI)
Parrot Anafi Thermal (on the fence with this one due to no safety sensors)
Skydio 2 (on the fence with this one due to no way to turn off the safety sensors, no dim light flights)
Yuneec Typhoon H plus (on the fence with this due to Yuneec basically handing over their 520 airframe to 3DR, and not supporting the H series in the US any more)

If I had $5000+ to spend I'd just get a 3DR H520 and call it done, but I don't, so I won't. For now at least...

Being a photographer first, and wanting to take my shiny new UAV camera on my many hikes and backpacking trips (fine art landscapes and such), fold-able airframes are very appealing to me.
However, I understand since I wish to work for aerial photo companies and do a bit of freelance work myself, I may need to forgo compact for image / airframe quality.

Anyway, that's where I'm at.
I can post this cry for help in the appropriate forum if this is not the place for it.
In the meanwhile, hello again and I'll keep making friends with the search menu!

Cheers
 

dirkclod

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Welcome to CDP .
Look around and find what your interest is and let it rip . Have any question's feel free to ask any staff
in a message concerning the forum and glad you have joined .
Enjoy and be safe .
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Florida Drone Supply

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Welcome to the Commercial Drone Pilots forum. We are a long-time sponsor and technical support volunteer for this forum. We are happy to help you with anything you might need a hand with - either now or anytime in the future.

We would also like to introduce you to our retail store and website. We are a long-time DJI reseller and carry other custom accessories for most DJI products. As well as Parrot and Autel among others.

As a new forum member, we would like to invite you to give our store www.floridadronesupply.com a try on your next purchase and use the code below for a one-time discount on everything you buy (with the exception of enterprise products - those cannot be discounted at all).

Code: NEWFORUMPILOT

Thanks again for being part of this great community of pilots - it's definitely full of people willing to share their knowledge and help each other out.
 
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Dave Pitman

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If you purchase a DJI drone on your list, and want the freedom to use any of the many flight control apps that take advantage of their SDK. I would advise staying away from DJI's controllers with built-in screen. The high nit screens are nice but the locked-down android OS is very limiting.

The M2P camera is nearly as good as the P4P except if collecting images for mapping. The P4P with it's mechanical shutter is the winner. If carring on your back is a high priority, then the M2P without a doubt.

The Autel Evo II pro also has a comparable camera. And, as a bonus, no DJI geofencing.
 
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LBESING

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Definitely look into the Autel Evo 2 Pro drone, either the 6K (my preference) or the 8K (cheaper than the 6K, but has a 1/2 inch sensor camera only). No NFZ limitations, but it does warn you about them. The photos from the 6K are stupendous, especially in low light conditions. It has anti-collision sensors 720° (not effective in low light) and a very long battery flight time (35-40 minutes).

I've also got the DJI Mavic 2 Pro and it's a wonderful drone as well.
 

Ajkm

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“I intend to jump right in with real estate, construction and civil photography (parks dept, forest service, etc), then move on to inspection (flir) and mapping.”
1. Don’t give up the day job. It sounds like you think that if you “jump right in” you’ll immediately make an income.

2. You need to do some really deep research around the areas you propose in your comment. Real estate agents now mostly do their own drone work, as do the others you mention.

3. You need to research the “inspection” idea - in many jurisdictions you cannot “inspect” or “survey” anything unless you hold specific professional certifications to do so.

4. You need to research your uses and arrive at a *realistic* decision as to what you will be doing in this field *before* you spend your money on buying the wrong drone for the job.

Read around the forum about all these matters. There are many, many threads started by people new to the profession, or intending to join the profession, which outline the often entirely unrealistic expectations of newcomers.
 

Florida Drone Supply

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1. Don’t give up the day job. It sounds like you think that if you “jump right in” you’ll immediately make an income.

2. You need to do some really deep research around the areas you propose in your comment. Real estate agents now mostly do their own drone work, as do the others you mention.

3. You need to research the “inspection” idea - in many jurisdictions you cannot “inspect” or “survey” anything unless you hold specific professional certifications to do so.

4. You need to research your uses and arrive at a *realistic* decision as to what you will be doing in this field *before* you spend your money on buying the wrong drone for the job.

Read around the forum about all these matters. There are many, many threads started by people new to the profession, or intending to join the profession, which outline the often entirely unrealistic expectations of newcomers.

I would love to sell you the best drone in the world and I have Autell Evo 2 6K in stock. I am actually using one (in this case) as a footrest right now. :cool: (Perfect height in my office to extend my recently hurt leg.) But, all joking aside I agree with the above, and I recommend that a person wanting to transition to UAS full time take a look at their resume to examine it closely.

If you were a used car salesman and did it well, market UAS videos to car dealers. If you were a good realtor, then market drone videos and pictures to your co-realtors. If you were a police officer, find a niche market in search and rescue. so on and so on, find the niche your good at and how drones can make you better at that niche. Drones have a million uses, find the one for your niche. 3 Million people are trying to get rich overnight with drones and hundreds of purpose-built "number 1 for "x" application" drones are being developed as we speak.

Steps to being a success in the drone world.

1. Self-evaluate what you are good at.
2. Find a Niche market where you are already good, and how you can make it better with UAS.
3. Prove you can do the job better with UAS and develop your reputation as the best or at least good in your Niche.
4. Do the job and give back to the community teaching others how to be good in your Niche market.

My Niche as a former GA commercial pilot and FAA employee in the ATO - is Airspace Management, FAA regulations, and customer service. That is why I am here at Florida Drone Supply to help other customers, teach and educate the public. While still working with our team Sell, Service, and manage upwards of 100 mapping/photography/videography flight operations daily, in varying airspace and conditions.

Opinions of Mike D
 

Hawkmoon

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Thank you all for the replies!
This is a great forum, and I've been lurking for the last month or so, reading up on everything that interests me.

I appreciate and agree with the advice given:
  • Jumping in... what I meant was 'with enthusiasm". Quitting my current day job is not an option, though the pay is dismal, and I'm actively looking for an 'at home, remote' replacement. I realize that without years of experience, aerial photography is a part time job at best, certainly a hobby at first, and I have much respect for you all that do it, love it, and get paid for it.
  • Research... I've been looking into what is feasible here in the Puget Sound area. Real estate photography still pays (not much), due to the ridiculous urban expansion happening here. Geography is very much a thing here, and there are companies offering mapping, survey and inspection services here, so employment with those companies is a real option. In fact, it was a local company's job posting that spurred me into starting this research into UAV photography a few months ago. I researched the various certificates I'd need to hold prior to offering commercial inspection services and am factoring those education costs into my initial drone purchase, as well as which first drone would be most appropriate given my interests, and which UAV I'd most likely upgrade to after I gained flying experience and saved up or earned enough money for. Real world experience is my benchmark here.
  • Drone... to the above, I have almost landed on the purchase of a Parrot Anafi Thermal for the purpose of practicing AUV thermography in particular and aerial visible light photography in general. I've read probably every post on the subject here and the Parrot forum concerning this UAV (as well as other sites). I realize its limitations for commercial use, and it would be replaced with a 3DR H520-G or similar if/when I was offered steady commercial work/employment and could justify the rather significant personal expense. The Autel 6k Evo 2 looks like a nice piece of kit, and it was initially topping my list but it is a bit big compared to the Mavic 2 Pro, and the thermo version is too expensive to start with. Plus, no rjpg's?
  • What I'm good at... Photography. I hold a degree in this (two if you count an MFA, which I guess I do, at least for academic and artistic purposes), and Geography. Mapping is appealing to me, hence my initial interest in the Phantom 4 pro. While I realize given my credentials the obvious 'day job' move would be back to teaching (did that at a private college for several years), however I am not an academic; I'm a data collector / data cruncher kind of guy. I liked teaching, but hated the homework (just like being a student). My preference would be to: get outside, take pictures, go inside, process them, send them to the client (or employer), get paid, wash and repeat. You know, like a professional photographer. I of course offer my own freelance photographic services, but I think for UAV photography, my initial go to action should be employment with an established local or national company. I'm more of a cooperative than a competitive person, and honestly, I hated running my own photography business full-time.
My philosophy on survival in our 'modern' age is: get an academic and trade education, pick one to make money in and play with the other. Or for the best of both worlds, do both! That's kinda where I'm at here.

Cheers and thanks again everyone!
 
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