Residential Metal Roofing Executive Report Marketing, Lead Generation, In-Home Sales, Installation, Referral Maximization

Getting Started with Drone Photography and Videography

Issue #161 | November 10, 2020 | Ethan Young


With Black Friday right around the corner, consider buying a drone for your roofing business. If you take pictures and videos of your finished jobs and want to up your game, flying a drone can vastly improve your visuals.

Before you buy a drone, keep in mind that there are steps to take before you can legally fly it for business purposes. First, consider the system’s cost, which can be anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Second, be prepared for the FAA certification process. Certification can take weeks to complete and costs a few hundred dollars for the test and registration. Finally, becoming proficient with both flying and photography/videography will take some time too. It will take some work, but the results are worth it. Having a library of high-quality images to share, post, and include in your marketing is invaluable.

Flying your drone

To fly a drone for commercial purposes, you need to pass an aeronautical knowledge test, obtain a remote pilot certification, and complete a TSA background check. Expect the certification process to take multiple weeks, as learning the required material for the test requires some serious studying. On a side note, if you have a private pilot’s license, you’ll be ready to take the test with minimal studying. Once you complete the certification process, you’ll be well equipped to fly your drone.

When operating the drone, following the rules is key to keeping yourself and those around you safe. After becoming certified by the FAA, you’ll have a better understanding, but here are a few rules to remember:

  • Never fly directly over people
  • Never fly close to an airport
  • Never fly too high or out of line-of-sight

Picking the right drone

When choosing a drone, consider the flight time, the camera, the controller, the app, and the flight experience. Aim for at least 20 minutes of flight time, a 4k camera, a controller that works with your cellphone, and an easy-to-use app. You can be flexible on some things, but don’t compromise on camera quality. Some common brands to look out for are DJI, Parrot, and Ryze. If you want a cheaper, entry-level model with some great features, check out the brand-new DJI Mini 2 for $449. For a mid-level model with improved performance, camera features, and built-in flight sensors, try the DJI Mavic Air 2 at $799. Finally, if you want a high-end model that doesn’t cut any corners, try the DJI Mavic Pro 2 at $1599.

Checking the camera on your drone

When you check out the camera on your drone, look for resolution, frame rate, and available settings. Ideally, your camera should shoot 4k video in 24 and 60 frames and take 4k photos with fully manual settings. The higher quality video, the better, and increasing the frame rate to 60 allows for slow-motion shots. Also, full manual control of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed will enable your camera to adapt to most situations. If this is unfamiliar to you, read this beginner’s guide.

Tips for outdoor photography

Taking pictures and videos outside means dealing with sunlight. Sunlight can cause glare from the roof, exposure issues, and annoying shadows. To fix this, see if your camera can use ND filters to tone down the bright light. ND filters come in different strengths for cloudy days, sunny days, or days in between. Changing ND filters significantly alters the light coming in, so see if your camera can accommodate it.

Changing exposure also dramatically affects your results. If you don’t know what exposure is, think of it as how much light is allowed to enter your camera. So when something is overexposed, too much light is coming in, making your image bright and washed out. When it’s underexposed, not enough light enters, making it dim. Take the time to adjust your exposure before flying, depending on the light in your shot. Be prepared to constantly monitor it, even during flight, to make sure your results are consistent.

Video with your drone

It’s important to keep in mind that taking things slow and smooth makes for the prettiest footage. Zooming past your subject might be fun, but it makes for an unpleasant viewing experience, and it doesn’t give customers enough time to see your hard work. Slowing down and aiming for a cinematic look in your videos makes a big difference.

Lastly, feel free to experiment with new angles when taking pictures and videos. Using a drone opens up a new dimension to you, so try different heights, speeds, and shots to produce visually interesting images. With practice, you’ll be taking great shots sooner than you think. For some examples, check out our Instagram accounts, @classicroof and @isaiahindustries.

Hopefully you found this helpful. If you have any questions about getting started with a drone, you can reach me at ethan.young@isaiahindustries.com. Now go take some great aerial pictures.

todd Miller

has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.

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