If you’re going to use a drone to capture the perfect moment at your next wedding gig, here are a few questions that will keep you out of trouble and your clients happy:
1. "Will you use voice amplification during the ceremony?"
Drones are noisy, and by now you have seen a fair share of wedding officiants that speak in a whisper. Even a small and nimble Phantom 4 is enough to drown out the vows for the back rows, so bringing this up is important, because it’s easy to plan for.
2. “Will there be any spare seats at the ceremony or wide isles?”
You want to avoid flying directly over people, especially indoors. Low ceilings, chandeliers and pillars are all potential accidents. Plan ahead, make sure you can have a clear flight path, and if you do have a mishap, make sure you don’t crash on the guests.
3. “Can I see the seating charts for the reception?”
4. “How will you decorate?”
You may know the venue, but what if the decorator suspends flowers and ribbons form the ceiling? Be sure you have enough space to maneuver and don’t get tangled.
5. “Will there be any releases?”
Doves and balloons are the enemy! You need to find out in advance and steer clear. Oh and, flying into a swarm of butterflies will horrify the guest as your trusty drone proceeds to turn them into salad.
6. "Will there be any young children?”
Kids love drones. They think your glossy white Inspire 1 with its carbon fiber legs and flashing LEDs is the coolest toy they’ve ever seen. They will rush it the moment you start landing or fly low, and your Inspire’s 13-inch props spinning at 2400 rpm will… the outcome can be quite gruesome as you can imagine. Not to mention, kids may throw things at it. This is why you bring at least two assistants. When flying a drone, you have tunnel vision, you won’t see much outside of the narrow corridor between you, your drone and your subject.
7. “What is the lighting situation?”
Most small drones on the market today use a sensor similar to a GoPro Hero 4, which isn’t great in low light. There may be nothing you can do about the lighting, but you might be able to rent a DJI Inspire 1 Pro, which is relatively small but uses the same sensor as a Panasonic GH4.
8. “Can I see the schedule?”
Plan for each time of day to make sure you have the right filters for the job! A sunset will require a different filter from noon letting you kick your photography up a notch.
Having asked those questions will help you avoid some of the challenges my team ran into in the past. However, these do not substitute your due diligence. Make sure to coordinate with each location where you shoot, drones might be off limits. Get the necessary permits in place, a quick paycheck isn’t worth the risk. And come prepared for the worst, we usually bring a fire extinguisher and a med kit with us, its required by law. But most importantly, never pull focus away from flying, the moment you take your eyes off the drone bad things happen. Terrifying warnings aside, drones are the most exciting thing to happen to photography for decades, get creative and blow your client’s mind!
About the Writer
Slava Gravets, CEO of SkySnap
Slava Gravets is the founder and CEO of SkySnap, a Toronto based aerial photo and video company that is also Canada’s only drone rental shop. Slava is also a co-owner of AdWave, a marketing company specializing web design and in inbound marketing channels such as SEO, social media and online advertising.