The Drone We Use and Love

Drone photography has gotten more and more popular, and earlier this year Trey and I decided we wanted to give it a try. We got a few recommendations from friends and after doing a little more research, we decided to buy the DJI Mavic Air (with the Fly More combo). We’ve taken it on a few vacations this year already and have also used it at home. For example, the photo above was something Trey wanted to try, and we took it just in our front yard. Ha.

Here is a photo we took of the resort we stayed in a few weeks ago for our five-year anniversary. I always love getting ocean photos with the drone now because you get to see all the color variations from seaweed and other ocean life.

Trey and I both LOVE photography. As you may already know, Trey runs our app company, A Color Story, so he’s pretty immersed in phone photography all the time. I mainly take food photos and other things like that for our blog. So when we go on vacation it’s probably not surprising that getting to play around with photography (on our phones, DSLRs, or a special camera like our drone) is one of our favorite activities. Our drone is super easy to use and works with a remote that attaches to your phone. I would recommend flying it a few times before taking it on a vacation, or flying over large bodies of water just so you feel really confident landing it. But it’s seriously super simple and you do not need to be tech-savvy to use it.

The only real drawback is it is quite loud when it’s taking off or landing. If you’ve never flown a drone, or been around someone who was, it sounds kind of like a giant beetle or something. It makes a pretty loud buzzing noise, as it flies with propellors, similar to a helicopter (a mini one, anyway). For this reason, flying a drone is a bit, well, embarrassing in certain settings. It can feel a little disruptive, so just be aware of your surroundings. There are also some areas that do not allow drones, so for sure check into that if you don’t know. This really isn’t a big deal though. I remember feeling super self-conscious to pull out my big DSLR camera in certain settings. It’s kind of a similar thing to that. The main thing to remember is that if you’re not disrupting others—IMHO it’s OK to enjoy your hobby. 🙂

Just like high-quality DSLR cameras, drones are also quite an investment. If you don’t love photography like we do, then it’s probably not worth it to you.

Here are a few photos we took on our Norway trip earlier this year. I love getting aerial photos of oceans or buildings, but a drone also just allows you get higher up so you can get better landscape photos in some settings. Trey also loves to get short video clips with the drone, which is why we bought one that works well for both video and still photos. I really enjoy video too, but I really love framing photos (or just printing for our annual photo album I do), so still photography is where it’s at for me.

Sometime this summer, I’d really like to get a drone photo above a swimming pool somewhere. Not sure when that’s gonna happen but it’s on my summer bucket list. 🙂

Anyway, I just waned to share what drone we use for some of the photography you’ve seen Trey and I post (he’s @williamgeorgeiii on IG), in case you’re thinking about getting one.

And two other photographers I LOVE who also use drones in their work are Arielle Vey (@ariellevey) and Colby Moore (@colbyshootspeople), so check them out if you want to get inspired! xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Trey George. Photos edited with A Color Story.
  • My husband got a drone a couple years ago (he loves to make videos), but I haven’t really experimented with it much for photos. Any particular tips, tricks or settings to try or look for in still vs. video?

    • Not really. We use ours for both (I love video but rarely take it since I can’t print it ;). I think it’s just experimenting that has been the best for me. It’s so different from using a camera you hold in your hands and look through.

  • Wow such beautiful pictures! Especially love the Norway shot! I’m pretty torn on using drones though.

    I feel that unless there is absolutely no one else nearby, drones are pretty disruptive to others. When I have been on vacation and seen/heard them flying around it not only disturbs the silence of beautiful places but also feels kind of like an invasion of privacy (I realize that sounds dramatic). I’m sure it will be one of those things we all eventually get used to, but in the meanwhile I can’t help but feel annoyed every time one buzzes overhead on a hike or a beach.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more! There was one flying around over my house just recently and I felt like I was being spied on. It was unnerving. Now we keep the paintball gun ready at the back door!😄

    • I totally agree. We have a beach house and there are always people trying out their new toys at the expense of others. They dive bomb people, whether on purpose or they are just learning, who know. More importantly, who cares? Keep your drone from flying up to my house and spying in the windows. They are a violation of privacy and space, and they are a noisy, unwelcome intrusion to what it supposed to be a restful commune with nature and/or people. I think they are a menace and should be outlawed.

    • Oh yeah, I hear you. There have been spots we just didn’t use a drone at, even though we thought the photo would be lovely, because we didn’t want to disrupt the spot (like if lots of people were relaxing and it was quiet). It personally doesn’t annoy me when I see people using drones, but I’m probably empathetic because I have one. ha. I’m also one of those people that it doesn’t annoy me when I see people taking pictures with their phones at coffee shops, restaurants, or other spots that are very “IG friendly” I think it’s a way certain people enjoy experiencing the world (through photos) so I get it. I’m a super visual person and learner and have always loved photography but I don’t want my hobby to invade other’s vacations so it’s tough finding that balance sometimes.

  • I love all the shots! Where is the circle towel from in the first pic? Thanks!

  • Drone photography is amazing! My husband has built his own drone and loves taking it up for those awesome shots. But one thing to remember–drones can be EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. The spinning propellers are a serious hazard–if they get close to a person, they will seriously hurt them. So even if it’s for a super cool shot, NEVER fly them above people–because if something goes wrong and it happens to fall, it will really hurt someone.

    Also, there are rules to where you can fly a drone in the US that you might not know about. You cannot fly them over roads, within 3 miles of a stadium, or within 5 miles of an airport. Other cities have other “no fly zones.” My husband really likes the app listed on this FFA website to help him know where he is allowed to fly: https://www.faa.gov/uas/where_to_fly/. Cities that have military bases typically have very few places where it is okay to fly.

    So please, please, PLEASE read up on the drone flying rules in your area before you set out to fly (the FFA rules for the US are found here: https://www.faa.gov/uas/faqs/). It will make it so much more safe and fun for all of us. 🙂

  • Great images! I do think flying a drone is embarrassing. Eeeek. Glad I’m not the only one! The way you compared it to that old feeling of embarrassment with a big DSLR really put it into perspective though, thanks!
    xo

  • I’m with Chelsie – good drone etiquette is key, especially when other folks are around. In fact, I rarely do it around people at all, as I too find the sound to be annoying and I wouldn’t want to ruin anyone’s day. For me this means a remote Alaska cabin with millions of empty surrounding miles. 🙂

    For any drone that takes half decent photos (including Mavics, Parrots, and the larger DJIs), you have to register with the FAA before you can fly (and tag your drone with your ID number). Also, before you fly within 5 miles of an airport or helipad, you have to call beforehand with your flight plan (even if you’re only going up 50 feet for 2 minutes). Keep in mind that there are a ton of helipads near every city (hospitals, big buildings, etc) and that aquatic (seaplane) airports count as well. They’re banned in all National Parks and many local parks are also jumping on the bandwagon.

    Drones are a crazy new frontier – I just did a road trip from Seattle to Argentina and our drone photos are some of my favorites of the entire trip.

  • We bought the Mavic Air Flymore pack too as soon as it was released! We’d been eyeing up the Mavic Pro since that was released a couple years ago, but just never ended up buying it and I’m actually so glad we didn’t because I love how small the Air is to the Pro.
    I’m actually pretty terrified to fly it and leave it all to my boyfriend to do, even though it’s super easy! And I definitely have that fear of getting it out infront of people and using it – how do you get over that?
    We just went on a 2 week Europe trip in our campervan and got the drone out all of 1 time because we were so scared to get it out haha! I seriously regret it now!
    xo April | April Everyday

  • Beautiful photos, unfortunately with all the promotion of drones these days they are falling into the hands of those who do not recognize noise pollution. We have had drones interrupt the peace and quiet from high mountain lakes in Oregon all the way to peaceful beaches in Hawaii.

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