Drone wedding photography provides a unique perspective that captures the beauty of the moment and the surroundings from an aerial, bird’s eye view. For wedding and engagement photographers, this relatively new tool provides them an opportunity to amaze their clients and stand apart from the crowd with interesting, dynamic images. However, great drone wedding photography requires a different set of skills, a strong understanding of lighting and compositions, and proper planning, preparation, and execution. In this article, we’ll provide you with some useful tips for drone wedding photography that will help you achieve stunning results while complying with legal regulations and safety guidelines.
All images are selected from the awards on Wedding Maps and used with permission from the wedding photographers.
Understand the Limitations of Drone Wedding Photography
The first tip when beginning your drone wedding photography journey is to understand the limitations of the camera. The quality of drone photos and videos has improved significantly in recent years, but it’s still not comparable to the quality of professional DSLR and mirrorless camera systems. Here are a few key differences between drone photos and professional camera photos:
- Sensor Size and Image Quality – Professional cameras have larger sensors than drones, which means they can capture more detail, higher dynamic range, and better low-light performance.
- Lens Quality and No Bokeh – Professional cameras often have high-quality lenses that allow for greater control over aperture, focus, and depth of field. This level of control is difficult to achieve with drone cameras, which often have fixed apertures and limited control over focus.
- Image Stability – Drones are prone to vibration, which can result in blurry or shaky images in low light. While many drones now come with stabilization systems, they still can’t match the stability of professional camera systems, especially when paired with a tripod.
- No Flash – Without a hot shoe, drones are not able to trigger flash photography, which can limit the photographers ability to separate the subject from the background. This makes choosing the right composition even more important, which we’ll cover later in this article.
Use The Drone Sparingly
Drones offer unique perspectives and capabilities, but they should be used as a complementary tool to traditional photography techniques rather than a replacement. Professional cameras offer greater image quality, control, and flexibility, making them the preferred choice for many professional photographers.
The drone photos should be a small percentage of your total image delivery. Because it takes time to set up, fly and land the drone, be sure to get a few different composition and execute a few different ideas. However, don’t let it dominate the entire session and take up too much time.
Study Drone Wedding Photography Compositions
With the limitations listed above, here are some essential composition tips for drone wedding photography.
Contrast and Separation are Essential
As with any wide angle photo, separating your subject from the background is critical. However, with drone wedding photography, you don’t have the use of flash or a shallow depth-of-field, two common techniques photographers use to separate subjects from the background, to assist. This is why it’s critical to keep your subjects at a clear distance from other objects from the scene.
It’s also critical to find or create contrast between the subject and the background with the use of wardrobe color or lighting.
Reserve for Clean, Beautiful or Interesting Scenes
Not all scenes are drone worthy! Reserve the use of drone wedding photography for clean, beautiful or interesting scenes. This includes beautiful beaches, scenic mountainous landscapes, vast desert and others. But it can also include parks, cityscapes and other scenes that may not be clutter free but may be interesting and appealing.
Find Interesting Patterns from Above
The next critical drone wedding photography composition tip is to find interesting patterns and shapes from above. Drones allow photographers to capture aerial shots from high above, an angle that can reveal patterns and shapes that may not be visible from ground level and add a new perspective to the composition.
One way to find interesting patterns and shapes is to look for repetition in the scene, such as rows of chairs or tables, patterns in the carpet or tiles, or lines created by the architecture of the venue. These repeating shapes can create a sense of rhythm and harmony in the image, drawing the viewer’s eye and adding a sense of order to the composition.
Another way to find interesting patterns and shapes is to look for contrasting elements in the scene, such as the contrast between the organic shapes of nature and the geometric shapes of the built environment. This can create a sense of tension and visual interest in the image, making it more dynamic and engaging.
Pre-Wedding Planning and Preparation for Drone Photography
Effective planning and preparation are essential for successful drone wedding photography. Here are some tips to help you prepare:
- Discuss drone photography with the couple beforehand to understand their vision and preferences. Consider doing this in your moodboard review or pre wedding talk through.
- Survey the wedding venue and surrounding areas in your location scouting to identify the best spots for drone shots and potential hazards or obstacles.
- Time the shots and movements with the wedding events, such as the ceremony, reception, or sunset.
- Bring backup equipment, such as extra batteries, props, or memory cards, in case of malfunctions or emergencies.
Legal and Safety Tips for Drone Wedding Photography
Before you take off with your drone, it’s important to understand the legal considerations that come with drone wedding photography. Here are some important points to keep in mind:
- Register and certify your drone with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
- Understand the airspace regulations and restrictions in the wedding venue and surrounding areas
- Obtain any necessary permits and permissions from local authorities or property owners
- Carry liability insurance to protect yourself and your clients in case of accidents or damages.
Safety should always be a top priority when doing drone wedding photography. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
- Avoid flying near people, buildings, or other aircraft.
- Maintain a safe distance from people and property to avoid accidents or injuries.
- Monitor the weather conditions and wind speed to avoid crashes or damage to the drone.
- Be aware of emergency procedures and first aid in case of accidents or injuries.
Drone wedding photography is a unique and exciting way to capture the beauty and emotions of a wedding. However, it requires careful planning, preparation, and execution to ensure safety, legal compliance, and stunning results. By following these tips, you can create beautiful and memorable drone wedding photos that will delight your clients and stand the test of time.