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Drone photography


What are drones?

Drones are unnamed aerial vehicles, controlled remotely from the ground or pre-programmed to fly automatically to a set route.

Drones have been used by the military for years, and are being looked into for other potential uses, such as delivery services, but are also becoming more and more popular for photography or videography purposes.

Potential uses for photographers

Drones are increasingly being used for wedding photography and videography, taking areal shots of the location, and even sometimes, bringing in the rings, taking a video of the event at the same time.

It is also becoming increasingly possible to use GPS to automatically plot routes, making architectural photography a whole lot easier.

Other people using drone photography include anyone wanting to take areal shots of their neighbourhood, holiday location or other scene from an angle that would otherwise not be possible.

Buying a drone

You can pick up a basic drone, for as little as £50. Anyone can buy a drone, they are available on the high street, though their use is regulated by certain laws.

Not all drones come with a built-in camera, and so you may need to get recording equipment to attach to your drone, such as the Go-Pro.

Drone use: The rules

Drones for personal use

For personal use don’t need specific permission, as long as you fly under 400 feet above surface-level, and don’t plan to fly close than 50 metres to people or objects. You also should not fly anywhere near an airport. For further guidance on distance see our article on drone photography and the rules. Provided users adhere to the distance guidance detailed in this article, drones weighing 20kg or less can be used for personal use without approval from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). However, they must be flown within ‘visual line of sight of the pilot and away from people, property and congested areas.

Drones for commercial use

Photographers who plan to use a small unmanned aircraft (20kg or less) for commercial purposes require permission from the CAA. The CAA will ask to see an up-to-date operations manual and evidence that the ‘pilot’ is competent, which will include undergoing a flight test and ground-based exam. See the full requirements.

Drones with an operational weight over 150kg – will also have to pay an Assurance of Airworthiness fee.

Privacy issues and Drones

‘Domestic’ use of images captured by drone are not subject to stringent controls, but if your images are for commercial use you must comply with the Data Protection Act, if the people in the images are identifiable. See what this entails.

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