So you’re considering drone wedding photography for your upcoming big day. But you’ve got some questions around cost and what to expect, and you’re not even sure if your traditional photographer can provide aerial imagery.
Well not to worry, this article will outline everything you need to know about finding, working with, and the costs of utilizing a drone to capture aerial imagery of your wedding. By the way, congrats on the nuptials!
Before we get into the details, let’s first take a moment to briefly highlight some of the reasons you might want to include drone photography at your upcoming wedding.
- First and foremost, the images are simply stunning.
- Aerial video footage will make your wedding photos and video look like a Hollywood production.
- A traditional wedding photographer has so much to focus on, it’s difficult for them to step back and capture the event’s energy the way an aerial photographer can.
DRONE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY CONSIDERATIONS
- You’re Hiring A Pilot—Not Just Another Photographer
- You wouldn’t trust the catering to anyone other than a chef of a professional catering business. Why wouldn’t you employ the same level of scrutiny to the drone operators you are considering. A licensed sUAS Pilot In Command will have undergone some level of training in aeronautical decision making enabling them to fly the drone in the safest way possible.
- Mitigating risk is extremely important, but so is experience behind the lens. An experienced drone camera operator will be able to quickly determine the best placement of the drone in order to get the best shots in the most efficient manner.
THE VENUE/GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION
- Keep in mind that all pilots must adhere to Federal Airspace Restrictions at all times, and there are certain flight restrictions in place that either prohibit or restrict UAS flights. Some of these may include proximity to nearby airports, schools, police & fire services, hospitals, and critical infrastructure.
- Prior communication with chosen wedding venues is necessary to assure there are no private property or local jurisdiction restrictions in place. We may also want to schedule a site visit to inspect for potential hazards (like power lines, wires, trees, etc.) that may limit the desired flight path.
- FAA regulations state that at no time may an sUAS operation be conducted directly over people; with the following exceptions; A) those people are directly involved in the operation, or B) they are protected by a solid structure. If any of your requested shots are to be directly overhead of your guests, a waiver will be required, which can take anywhere from thirty to ninety-days to be approved. Or we can stay away from direct overhead shots all together if waivers can’t be obtained in time.
- It’s important to consider your guests’ comfort and safety when considering adding an aerial photographer to your wedding day roster. Firstly, today’s smaller and more advanced drones are incredibly quiet compared to their predecessors, but they are NOT silent.
- There should be no reason for the drone to ever be within the proximity of your guests or the wedding ceremony to pose any danger. With that being said, there is always a possibility a flight may experience interference (especially in dense urban areas), or low-level turbulence that can cause temporary loss of control, or worse, a fly-away and crash.
- The majority of risks can be mitigated by a licensed and experienced drone pilot who would have conducted a series of pre-flight checks and/or site inspections that would have identified potential interference.
- Obviously, experience matters when seconds count. So you certainly wouldn’t want to take any chances, especially on your wedding day.
EVENT DAY WEATHER
Luckily every wedding day in history has had perfect weather [Laughs]… One of the most common questions asked is what happens if it rains or snows or something; as you should. Any reputable aerial photographer you work with should have a weather policy in place especially for special event assignments (like weddings) where rescheduling is not an option.
Everyone hopes their wedding day has perfect weather, but to be clear wedding day perfect and a perfect day for the flight may vary somewhat. Here are a few weather considerations your pilot will be looking at:
Precipitation: A pilot will not operate an sUAV in any form of precipitation (rain, sleet, snow, or any form of fog).
Cloud Cover: An sUAV must maintain a minimum distance of 500 feet below a cloud base, and at least 2000 feet horizontally away from any clouds if at the same altitude.
Wind: A pilot will generally not operate in wind conditions in excess of 15mph AGL (above ground level). Wind speed increases as you increase in altitude. Meaning a light 5mph breeze at the surface could be blowing at 20mph 400-500 feet AGL. Buildings, trees, and other structures on the surface can create low-level turbulence and shifting currents that pose hazards to flight.
Extreme Cold/Heat: Extreme heat or cold can have adverse effects on the drone’s performance characteristics, the camera, as well as the operator. Many pilots will impose operating restrictions based on extreme temperatures for obvious reasons.
Density Altitude: This is the altitude relative to what is considered standard atmospheric conditions (or mean sea level). In aviation, this has a direct impact on the aircraft’s performance.
DRONE WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY COSTS & OPTIONS
With all things considered, you’ve decided that an aerial wedding photographer is a must. We couldn’t agree with you more. The only thing left to do is hash-out the details of the day.
Is there more than one event location? Will you want both the ceremony and the reception shot? Do you only require still photography, or did you want video captured, or both?
There are many options you’ll most likely be faced with once you decide on an aerial photographer. So here are a few things you should be looking for, and what you might expect to pay. Keep in mind the figures quoted will vary depending on your market, the actual flight location, etc. The below figures are meant to be a point of reference when doing your own research.
This is a bit less common as everyone wants video. But it still happens. The pilot would basically be another photographer working alongside your traditional photographer, only capturing exterior aerials of your event. Interior aerials are possible, but additional considerations would need to be worked out with the venue management in advance.
Depending on the length of the shoot, the drone photographer will most likely capture photos of where the ceremony takes place, the ceremony itself possibly, guests arriving and mingling, behind the scenes, the nearby area, etc. They may also accompany the party to the reception, especially if it takes place outdoors.
For a half-day booking, you might expect to pay $500–$1000
For a full-day booking, you might expect to pay $750–$2000+
This option is perfect for when you already have a traditional photographer /videographer secured who’s providing your ground-level shooting and post-production editing. Most pilots are happy to work with another photographer to capture video footage they can use in their final edit later.
Again depending on the length of the shoot, a pilot would be capturing the same footage listed in the above photo-only section but as video. More advanced pilots on a full-day booking might also capture things like the sunrise and/or sunset at your venue, various nearby landmarks, or other shots not on the shot-list or during the actual event times.
For a half-day booking, you might expect to pay $700–$1300
For a full-day booking, you might expect to pay $900–$2500+
Here deliverables will vary greatly in both quality and price, and the two are not always directly related. You could expect to pay as little as a few hundred dollars for a short montage of aerial scenes compiled together to music, or several thousand dollars for a fully produced video complete with expert color correction, custom graphics, original music, and slick transitions.
The low-end of the scale generally is just going to be the raw footage, digitized and slapped together with a little bit of editing to leave you with a compilation of “good clips”. Which while it sounds a bit lackluster is not necessarily a bad thing depending on your needs. If you are going the photo only route, a montage of images, while music plays is fairly standard. However assume the images are not color corrected, and the music may be from the public domain collection.
For low-end video post-production, you might expect to pay between $100–$450
For low-end photo post-production, you might expect to pay between $50–$200
For the mid-range priced videos, you can expect some color correction, better transitions, and basic graphics or text. Don’t expect anything fancy, but the step up in color correction and transitions alone will make a big difference in the watch-ability of the final video. For a photo montage, the mid-range difference is similar, with the addition of color correction, perhaps graphical or advanced transitions, and better music.
For mid-range video post-production, you might expect to pay between $500–$1000
For mid-range photo post-production, you might expect to pay between $300–$850
High-end videos and photos are what everyone aspires to, but be aware that expert artistry is not cheap. That said, if the video is of your wedding why would you not want the best possible option so family and friends want to watch your special day many times over. It is probably obvious from the preceding paragraphs what my description of high-end post-production would entail, but let me stress while the difference in quality is measurable, the extent to its greatness lies in the artistry of the editor. You can most likely expect the color correction to be immaculate, to have a breathtaking opening, and an ovation worthy closing, as well as the addition of graphics and overlays to both transitions and special moments. Whatever you decide definitely be clear with your editor about what they are offering, and what you expect from a finished product.
For high-end video post-production, you might expect to pay between $1000–$5000+
For high-end photo post-production, you might expect to pay between $900–$2500+
By now you probably realize a wedding day, be it your own or one you’re in charge of for someone else, is in most cases a once in a lifetime event. One that takes a great deal of time and care to plan and orchestrate.
Capturing your wedding day festivities from the air with a drone will allow you (or your client) to relive the day forever like it were a major Hollywood production. Just make sure that it’s within your budget and it’s even possible.
It’s also worth noting that an aerial photographer or videographer can never provide the same level of services that a traditional wedding photographer could. They are experts in their craft, and necessary to capture the closeups a drone simply can’t. With that being said, if your photographer doesn’t already provide aerials, ask if they’re willing to work with a drone pilot to supplement their work.