A Refreshingly New Point of View
Man has always dreamt of flying. From the stories of Icarus to the designs of DaVinci, we have been drawn to the freedom of soaring above the ground, seeing the world in a way reserved only for the birds.
Thanks to the latest drone technology, it is now more affordable than ever to capture stunning images and videos, shot from above, which not only elicit strong emotional reactions from viewers, but also allow us to explore, map, and measure our world in ways that until recently were only accessible to the largest organizations. As we explore this burgeoning technology and push the limits of what is possible, we are able to discover new uses for this type of photography in areas as diverse as real estate, parks & recreational spaces, and even agriculture or archaeology.
What is Aerial Drone Imagery?
Aerial Drone imagery is, simply put, photography and videography captured with the assistance of a flying, unmanned vehicle with an attached camera. These drones range in size and complexity from small toys with cameras similar to those found in smartphones all the way up to octa-copter drones carrying cinema-quality video cameras weighing over 20 kilograms.
What was once only possible with the use of expensive equipment such as cranes, helicopters, or even satellites, is now becoming more accessible to the broader business community. Professional photographers are able to use cutting edge drone equipment—including image and flight stabilization, active subject tracking, and even infrared cameras and other specialty tools—to provide powerful, affordable bird’s-eye images for their clients.
Don’t think that just because drone photography is a cheaper, newer alternative to previous solutions such as satellite imagery, that it is inherently lower quality. The truth is, drone photography can provide much more detailed images, as much as 30 times more precise. DigitalGlobe, a commercial satellite company, claims their imagery provides a resolution of 30 centimeters per pixel. In contrast, professional drone images can provide much higher precision, with resolution as high as 1 centimeter per pixel for a fraction of the cost.
But drone photography and videography isn’t only a valuable investment for marketing purposes. Having overhead images can make life easier for many types of organizations and can give businesses a competitive advantage by providing in-depth detail about a specific location allowing for more precise decision-making involving land development, agriculture, or archeology.
Is It Really Worth Investing In Aerial Imagery?
It’s no surprise that consumers, homebuyers, holidaymakers, and even potential business partners react positively to visual marketing tools such as photos and videos. In fact, a recent study from Google and the US National Association of Realtors—the largest trade association for real estate in the United States—found that as many as 86% of potential home buyers prefer using videos to research the home and community they are considering. Still, real estate photography only accounts for roughly 48% of the total professional drone photography market. Insurance companies are using drones to speed up claims processing, increase labor efficiency by as much as 50% for damage assessors, and even combat fraud.
For some businesses, such as construction or insurance, reduced costs, and increased customer engagement aren’t the only bonus provided by the use of drones. Using drones for inspection, measurement, and appraisals can eliminate the need for workers to physically climb onto roofs, unfinished structures, or other dangerous locations. This can allow companies to reduce the risk of personal injury to their workers—which is a big deal considering that over half of work-related injuries in the construction industry in the UK are due to falls.
In addition to this, for anyone considering buying a drone and taking the photos themselves, they should know, it isn’t quite so simple. According to the Civil Aviation Authority, it is “illegal to fly [a drone] without registering and passing a theory test.” So, not only would a potential DIYer need to invest time in the registration process, but they will also have to deal with additional regulations, permissions, and exemptions in order to use the drone for commercial purposes or in congested urban areas.
How Drone Photography Can Add Value to Your Business
While aerial photography and video aren’t right for every business, it can be a powerful tool for a wide variety of companies, non-profits, and more.
Real Estate & Architecture – Real estate may be one of the most apparent uses for professional drone photography. For people looking to sell properties such as large manor houses, rural homes, farms, or even sprawling commercial compounds, providing a bird’s-eye view of the property gives prospective buyers a full view of the layout of the property as well as a sense of how the property fits into the overall landscape and surrounding areas.
But drone photography isn’t just useful for properties in rural areas. Having an aerial view of urban buildings can provide not only awe-inspiring images of the architecture of the buildings, but it can also offer a sense of scale, which may not be apparent from street level.
Travel & Hospitality – We’ve all seen the breathtaking videos used in tourism adverts. There are very few things which make us wish we were on vacation more than seeing dazzling video flying above a sprawling coastline, verdant hillside, or freshly-powdered ski slope.
Drone footage offers businesses in the travel and tourism industry a quick, cost-effective way to create engaging, FOMO-inducing content for social media, blogs, and rental aggregator websites like Airbnb, giving them a leg up against their competitors and driving potential visitors deeper into the marketing funnel.
Parks & Recreational Areas – Another example of where aerial photography can be incredibly valuable is in the promotion of parks and recreational areas. Having views from above can help prospective visitors see the layout of the installations, allowing them to not only understand the beauty and size of the location but also facilitating the planning of events.
Industrial & Agricultural – As we mentioned before, photography and videography shot from a drone can be useful for much more than marketing and promotional materials. There are plenty of ways to use aerial imagery to give your business a competitive advantage.
For example, farmers and other agricultural enterprises can use this technology to aid in the counting of livestock, in estimating the potential harvest and finding potential disease outbreaks in crops.
Other industrial uses can be found in areas such as land development and construction, where drone photography can aid in land surveying and planning, inspecting construction sites, as well as helping with presenting proposals for development projects.
Archeological & Geological – Similar to the industrial and agricultural uses outlined above, there are plenty of other applications for bird’s-eye photography and videography outside of marketing.
Geological teams can use aerial photography for mapping, surveying, and measuring areas for potential construction, mining, or development projects. It can even be used to save lives by helping to predict natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions.
Archeologists enlist drone photographers for a variety of unique tasks as well. From searching for lost civilizations in the deserts of North America to protecting ancient burial sites across the Middle East from looting, aerial imagery gives these researchers powerful tools for exploring and protecting our shared human history.
Infrastructure & Utilities – One of the biggest challenges in the installation and maintenance of utilities and infrastructure projects is the inability to monitor the progress and inspect the health of installations in real-time. With drone photography and videography, project leaders are able to quickly and affordably perform these tasks, reducing the time and cost associated with human inspections, and increasing accuracy and reliability.
But drones aren’t only useful for project oversight. They can also be used by construction workers, linemen, and others to provide quick, accurate measurements on worksites.
Property & Automotive Insurance – When insurance companies write a policy, whether it be property, a vehicle, or any other valuable asset, they need to know the full value of the asset and be able to perform a risk assessment. By employing drone photography, insurance companies can quickly evaluate the condition of a property or asset as well as determine any risk factors such as proximity to large trees, rivers, or other elements, which may increase the risk of loss.
Furthermore, in the event of large-scale incidents or disasters such as hail storms, flooding, or similar issue, drone photography or video can provide a quick overview of damaged areas, assets, and properties—allowing assessors to estimate losses in hours rather than days.