Hi! It’s Justin Wojtczak of 375 Photography Inc., from Atlanta, Georgia. I work with my partner Justin McGough, and we are commercial wedding photographers. I am also an instructor for KelbyOne.
Before I get started talking about how we use drones in our work, let me get a couple of things out of the way up front:
- We are responsible drone pilots. No need to say anything more about what you should and should not do.
- We take the safety of others seriously.
So, now that we’ve got that out of the way – we love drones! And who doesn’t? Having this amazing tool in our Creative Toolbox is another way for us to get creative and offer our clients phenomenal shots! So we wanted to share with you some ways we are taking advantage of drones, as well as give you some insights from what we have learned.
Using a drone at a wedding is a very difficult balancing act. You certainly want to take things to the next level, but you also want to be mindful of the safety of others. So let’s break down this shot:
We shot a wedding down in the Dominican Republic and it was out of this world! When I found out months beforehand that the ceremony was going to be on a pier, I knew I had to bring the drone. I spent months thinking about how to get the kind of shot I wanted to get, and developed a general idea and plan. But after a couple of practice flights the day before the wedding, I had a completely different vision.
Did you notice how the sun hit the palm trees? I did too, and knew I wanted that to be my shot. Because the ceremony only lasted 8 minutes I had to make a decision on whether or not to risk getting the shot. I knew we were down in the DR (a unique opportunity), the drone would be over water (so if it crashed no one would get hurt), but more than anything, the bride really wanted it. Would it be worth it?
So before the ceremony I took one more test flight to make sure I knew the extract controls and maneuvers I needed to get everything in one shot. As the ceremony started, I had one camera rolling video, my wife taking pictures, and I picked up with my drone. It was already powered on and ready, so there was no delay, and I ran to my take off spot and got the shot in 57 seconds. I landed the drone, secured it, and rushed back to the ceremony on the pier.
A couple of quick observations: first, be sure to communicate with the bride and groom your vision of using the drone during the ceremony so they understand and expect the noise of the drone. Secondly, you need to have another shooter to make sure that the ceremony is covered, because it would be bad if you got drone footage but missed an important part of the ceremony.
To recap, balance the next level shot with the safety of others, and figure out what you need to beforehand. This turned out to be a great shot because the bride and groom were so blown away by the result.
Best Time to Use
We love using the drone footage to augment our snapshot videos.
(Wait, what is a snapshot video you ask? It is a combination of video and stills highlighting the best parts of the client’s day. We are teaching a course at Photoshop World this year called Snapshot Videos: Creating Small Videos that Create Large Opportunities. This is an amazing class on how these snapshot videos have generated some crazy opportunities for us…but you’ll have to come to PSW to find out more!)
So, as I was saying, we use the drone to add value to the footage we already have. Here are a few times during a typical wedding day that we like to use a drone:
– Intro shot for the snapshot video
– Stunning shots of the couple
– Exit shot to end the video
We’ve also found that drones are unbelievable tools when working with golf courses. The aerial footage really allows us to gain a new perspective of each course. In fact, one of the ways we’ve developed relationships with several courses is by building a relationship with the wedding coordinator when we shoot a wedding at a country club. Once that relationship is built, we can give them a sample of what we can do for that club for their marketing material. Showing a country club from a different perspective is very attractive for the club managers.
And that’s a great tip: Don’t be afraid to be proactive and be on the hunt for potential new clients. Get comfortable with putting yourself out there, because you just never know what opportunities you might generate.
Okay, final recap:
Drones add a huge value to our work!! In fact, just having a drone has brought us jobs. But what sets us apart is how we use it. Here are three things we do to help make our footage stand out:
- We take time to build a relationship with our clients and invite them to watch us while we capture footage. We get excited when we shoot and that excitement carries over to the client, especially when they connect the emotions from that moment with the footage we provide.
- We set ourselves up for the best possible light. Having an amazing sunrise will make any project look even more amazing than it already is. We plan very carefully so we can capture that golden light as much as possible. Sometimes things don’t work out, but that’s okay. We’ve learned to stay calm, be flexible, and do our best to still get dramatic footage. Even if you have to come back, it will be worth it in the end.
- A little touch of color grading. We are not color grading experts, but we are trying to understand how to get the best results we can. Tweaking even a few settings on the drone and in post can make a significant difference (but that’s for a different post).
If you have any questions, please let us know. If you’re going to Photoshop World, be sure to check out our two classes, Snapshot Videos: Creating Small Videos that Create Large Opportunities and DSLR: Video Basics for Photographers. Thanks for reading and happy shooting!
You can see more of Justin’s work at 375Photography.com, and follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and check out his videos on Vimeo!