In today’s photo world, drone photography is in a niche all its own. Paul Prescott founded Amazing Aerial Agency out of “the desire to see aerial photos and videos of our planet.” In late 2017, he contacted the best aerial artists around the world and began curating a collection that has since grown to over 8,000 photos and videos from nearly 20 contributors.
I talked to Paul about his inspirations and passion for drone photography. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
All photos by Paul Prescott.
Can you tell us a bit about your background in photography?
I started shooting professionally 15 years ago. I was working in advertising in London and took extended breaks to go cycling around the world, bringing back photos of my trips. This was before the days of Facebook and Instagram, and my friends told me to try selling my photos.
How did you get into drone photography?
In a continued desire to show the beauty of our planet I got into aerial drone photography four years ago. It was rather low tech and I ended up sinking my first drone at the bottom of the Adriatic sea. A few drones later, I am shooting professionally, sometimes making films for clients.
What’s the hardest thing about drone photography?
One of the hardest things about droning is the time limitation: you have approximately 20 minutes to take off, look around, find something cool to shoot, compose your photos, and get the drone back in one piece. Another difficult factor is orienting your mind to seeing a 3-dimensional world. Of course, you also have to make sure to avoid obstacles, especially when flying low, following people, or flying through the canopy of a forest.
What’s the easiest?
The easy thing about flying a drone is that once you are high the risk of anything bad happening is low. Also, the built-in software makes it really easy to navigate. You can automatically follow a moving person or car, automatically make a 360-degree circumnavigation around a landmark, give directions on a map for the drone to follow and get the drone back at a touch of a button.
Have any thoughts or theories about why drone photography is so hip/popular right now?
Drones have taken photography to a different— higher —level. This new technology is open to anyone who has the courage to learn something new, take risks, and take off. Photographing in three dimensions with trees, electric wires, mountains, water, and birds to avoid can be scary at first, but taking off and seeing a vista of a valley or lake stretch before you within seconds makes the fear worth it.
No-fly zones are very much an issue with drone photographers. Can you talk a bit more about the research you do to ensure you’re allowed to use a drone? Have you ever encountered an issue with that while shooting?
Too strict regulations will kill aerial photography. However, common sense regulations can and will support
(The latest reports of drones flying around airports must be people building their own drones without this software. These irresponsible people are tarnishing the reputation of serious
How does PhotoShelter help your workflow? Do you have a favorite feature or tool?
PhotoShelter helps me in so many ways! I can upload and organize my whole portfolio safely and securely, I can organize my library according to my contributors’ needs, and FTP enables us to transfer files between PhotoShelter and the agencies we work with in seconds. Plus, Amazing Aerial Agency’s website is powered by a PhotoShelter template, and we use the site to display galleries organized by country and theme.
The feature we find most useful from a client’s perspective is the ability to create customized back-end galleries that we can distribute to our clients with a protected password. They can then review these galleries, choose the photos they need, and download the high-resolution files seamlessly.
My favorite tool, though, is the gallery tool, which allows me to choose photos based on keywords and themes. Being able to customize the sort order gives me flexibility in how photos are displayed to clients, and the end result is amazing to behold.
What’s next for drone photography?
Drone and aerial photography is just in its infancy. Software technology is making flying easier and high-performing cameras are driving quality through the roof. Just seeing what has happened in the last four years makes me very excited about the future.