DIY Aerial Photography Soars to New Heights









Stunning Video and Photos of UCONN’s

Freshman Convocation Were Captured Via a Drone


Remote control helicopters, also referred to as drones or quad-copters, have been “taking off” recently for use in aerial photography.  In fact, one of our clients, UConn, used one for their recent Freshmen Convocation with amazing results.  These quad-copters afford angles and perspectives never-before possible without a professional aerial photographer.

These high flying machines come in various price points.  On the low end ($500 range) you can attach your own camera, such as a GoPro, which is very popular.  Professional drones come with HD photo and video cameras built in and start at about $1,500 for a basic fly/point/shoot model with 640 x 480 pixel resolution, which is good, but not professional quality, and an 1100 foot range.  At the top end are models priced more than $25,000 for a 1080p resolution and a long-range (up to three miles) professional system with separate controls for the camera and flying controls for the pilot.


Commercial Use Banned by the FAA

Sounds too good to be true? It is for the time being.  Here’s the catch. The FAA’s (Federal Aviation Administration) position is it’s illegal to use drones to film an event if the purpose is commercial.  FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said in a statement that an operator of radio-controlled aircraft can mount a camera on it and shoot video for his or her personal use.  For UConn’s event, the drone was owned by the university and operated by staff.  The video was posted on YouTube for public viewing.

“But if the same person flies the same aircraft and then tries to sell the video, or uses it to promote a business, or accepts payments from someone else to shoot the video, that would be a prohibited commercial operation,” said Gregor, who works out of the FAA’s Pacific Division office.

The FAA is not a prosecutorial agency, but it would send a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) operator a cease-and-desist letter if it became aware of the unauthorized commercial use of a UAV.

The FAA claims jurisdiction of the entire U.S. airspace and relies on a 1981 advisory circular regulating model aircraft as the basis for standards for small UAV use. The circular encourages voluntary compliance and advises model-aircraft fliers to keep their planes below 400 feet and to notify an airport operator if they are flying within 3 miles of the airport. The FAA is scheduled to set rules for small UAVs this year with a review period to follow before implementation.


What to Consider When Using a Drone

If you are fortunate to purchase, or borrow, a drone to take outstanding photo and video of your event, here are some considerations:


Drones can be noisy and they may interfere with a presenter speaking to a crowd.


The noise, lights and seeing a unique flying object overhead can easily distract guests, paying more attention to the drone buzzing around than the presenter.


Make sure the operator is experienced before you send them flying a drone over people, power lines, and property. You and/or the drone operator should have liability insurance to cover accidents.


The operator should always have the drone in their line of sight.


Depending on your event, privacy issues may arise if you don’t have specific permission releases from people being photographed or videotaped.

Inform Venues

Notify the venue when drones are planning to be used.

Obey FAA Rules

Fly the drone no higher than 400 feet, and notify authorities if you are within 3 miles of an airport.


One significant caution is that this is still in the wild-west stages of development.  The FAA has yet to fully weigh in on the topic and significant restrictions may be coming. When commercial use is permitted, look for someone who has a commercial drone certification to insure that whom you hire is qualified and licensed to pilot the aircraft safely.


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Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney used drone at his wedding — violating Federal Aviation Administration rules

CBS News-

Corbin Ball Associates –

QuadHanger –

Federal Ban on Drones Doesn’t Stop Photography-



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