The History, Present and Future of Aerial Photography in India and The Rest of The World

Aerial Photography refers to capturing shots with the help of an airborne camera. A sea change has been witnessed in the field of Aerial Photography during the course of over 14 decades of its glorious history. Back in 1858, a French photographer named Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, for the very first time, succeeded in carrying out a session of Aerial Photography with the help of a hot air balloon tethered at the height of 80 meters. Unfortunately, none of those priceless shots has survived to this day. Two years later, in 1860, Samuel Archer King and Wallace Black captured Boston from a height of 630 meters. Fortunately, this aerial photo has survived, and it now goes by the name of Boston, as the Eagle and the Wild Goose See It.

Initially, Aerial Photography was carried out with the help of pigeons, kites rockets and balloons. In 1897, Alfred Nobel became the first human being in the world to succeed in capturing an aerial photo with the help of a rocket-mounted camera. Nine years later, in 1906, George Lawrence captured San Francisco before and after the infamous earthquake. Lawrence succeeded in carrying out this session of Aerial Photography with the help of a 49-pound camera mounted to the height of 2000 feet with the help of a train of as many as nine kites. L.P. Bonvillan, in 1908, captured the very first aerial photo from an airplane. During the first World War, detailed maps were prepared with the help of Aerial Photography.

Fortunately, the professionals did not take a long time in making pigeons obsolete in this regard, but the use of kites and balloons for mounting the camera to the desired height continued, and a few professionals still use it for the same purpose. However, manned planes and drones, these days, are the most popular carriers of aerial cameras.

Drones are preferred by most of the professionals over their manned counterparts owing to the ability of the former to capture equally good shots without involving a whopping amount of money.

The lighting conditions in the area that needs to be captured with the help of a drone should be perfect. In this context, ‘perfect’ refers to reasonable light. Contrary to popular belief, too much of sunshine isn’t healthy for drone photography. According to most of the professionals, the best time for carrying out Drone Photography is just before the sunset. The quality of the concerned lens should be superlative since it invariably plays a vital role in deciding the fate of each and every aerial shot. It is highly recommended to refrain from using drones for photography on days when it’s raining, snowing or windy out there no matter how advanced the concerned drone may be since the results will, almost always, be disappointing.

Drones are popular not only popular because of the reasonable cost involved with them but also because of their versatility. The duration for which a drone can stay airborne varies from model to model, and a drone either comes bundled with or without a built-in camera. So, coming across a drone that fits the bill no matter how specific the need may be is always easy.

The use of gimbals in drone photography is recommended since they enable the drone-mounted camera to capture stable footage. These days, there is no dearth of drones that can capture footage in 4K and this is one of the reasons why the concerned shots are detailed in nature.

These days, filmmakers in all parts of the world have started to use drones for capturing stunning footage that looks great on the big screen. So, the reliance on land-based cameras has now started to witness a decline in filmmaking that isn’t drastic, but reasonable won’t be an inappropriate word to use for the same. Such a decline is also being witnessed in many other fields.

One of the most important applications of Aerial Photography is in the field of Disaster Management. Drones can easily capture clear footage of any area that is difficult to access via foot. The same drones also facilitate the rescue operations by capturing the areas that are severely hit by natural disasters like earthquake and flood. Drones, these days, are also being used for monitoring the construction of any illegal structure to ensure that they can be demolished as soon as possible.

Most of the builders in all parts of the world have started to use drones for coming across the most conducive sites for carrying out the intended construction.

For carrying out Aerial Photography in any part of the world, you need to comply with the guidelines laid down by the concerned authority and India is no exception to this fact.

The most important guidelines laid down by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation for carrying out Aerial Photography in India are as follows:

1: A drone flying in India needs to stay in the Visual Line of Sight.

2: Drones in India are prohibited from flying in controlled airspace.

3: It is mandatory for all the operators in India who want to fly a drone at/above 200 feet above ground level in the uncontrolled airspace to have an Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit issued by DGCA.

4: A drone flying in India should have a Unique Identification Number issued by DGCA.

Visit the official website of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to make yourself aware of all the concerned guidelines in detail.

For carrying out Aerial Photography in Australia, the operators need to have a certificate as well as a license issued by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. In Australia, drones that weigh under 2 kilogramme can be used for commercial reasons.

In the United States of America, the Federal Aviation Administration only allows the operators who are licensed pilots to fly a drone. The operators should always keep the drone in the Visual Line of sight and ensure that everyone in America stays unharmed with such operations. Visit the official website of the Federal Aviation Administration to acquire the awareness of the detailed guidelines.

The United Kingdom is considering to come up with reasonable laws for the individuals who wish to carry out Aerial Photography, but as of now, there are just a few guidelines that need to be complied with for carrying out the same. Currently, anyone in the UK can buy and fly a drone that weighs less than 20 Kilogramme. The drone should always be in the Visual Line of Sight that refers to the height of 400 meters. For flying a drone beyond the 400-metre mark, the operators need to have the formal permission from the Civil Aviation Authority. The drone should maintain a distance of at least 150 meters from any area that is flooded with people. A drone in the UK can’t be used for commercial purposes. Visit the official website of the Civil Aviation Authority to know about all the guidelines in detail.

In Ireland, the operators need to register all the drones weighing over 1 Kg with the Irish Aviation Authority. While flying, all the drones in Ireland should always maintain a distance of at least 5 Kilometres from each and every aerodrome. A drone is prohibited from flying in a civil airspace or an airspace controlled by the military. Visit the official website of the Irish Aviation Authority to know about all the guidelines in detail.

In India, Aerial Photography doesn’t date back to many years in the past, and therefore, it isn’t as popular as it is in a few other parts of the world, but the awareness of this acclaimed method of capturing shots is now spreading at a gradual pace. A considerable number of Indians have now realised that Aerial Photography is better than its land-based counterpart in many ways and this is the reason why they are now more interested in the former than the latter.

Aerial Photography is playing an important role in the growth of India’s tourism sector by tempting millions of people across the globe to pay a visit to a large number of monuments, shrines and many other tourist destinations in India at least once. The growth of India’s real estate sector also owes a lot to the impressive shots captured through drone-mounted cameras since they have proved to be successful in encouraging the potential buyers towards the piece of land that has been put on sale.

An impressive number of business houses across India have now started to use the aerial footage for advertising their products and services, and they are happy with the results.

Aerial Photography in India is expected to witness a surge in the number of takers in the future because the number of service providers in the concerned field is increasing and consequently, the cost of availing Aerial Photography services is expected to come down to the point when most of the Indians will call it affordable. Currently, despite being interested, a lot of Indians can’t afford to opt for Aerial Photography.

10 Tips To Tell You How To Start A Photography Business By Finding Your Photography Niche

Sooner or later, most photography enthusiast give some thought to “how to start a photography business.” Unfortunately, there are a ‘few‘ challenges that “doom” us to failure. One of the biggest challenges that we bring is our failure to make the distinctions between our love of photography (re: our enjoyment and passion for photography) and the business of photography (understanding buying and spending habits of people that are photography customers).

For example, many of us think that because our photography work is “so good,” that we shouldn’t have that much trouble selling it. We, sometimes, mistakenly, think that great art and photography “sells itself.” Big mistake! Great photography does not sell itself. In the business world, nothing sells itself – nothing! Knowing this is critical to start a photography business.

Our failure to make the distinction between our passion for photography and our desire to be in the photo business is also evident in how we try to tell people about what we do. For example, photography customers don’t care what type of equipment we use. They don’t care how many mega-pixels we have, nor how much our equipment cost us, nor what brand of camera we use. Photography customers (current and potential) want to know that we can, and will, produce the highest quality photography work for them.

Think about it, the mechanics that repair our cars don’t tell us what tools that they use. The chefs in the restaurants that we patronize don’t tell us what type of pots, pans or stoves that they use. In those businesses, it is already established what customers want and how best to give it to them. In other words, other businesses do a better job of understanding their ‘niche.’ In order to start a photography business that is consistently successful and growing, we must be clear on what niche we are offering and how to sell the benefits of our niche to the customers.

Another mistake that we budding photography business owners repeat is failing to “specialize” (know our photography niche) in what we do. As photography enthusiasts, we enjoy shooting any and everything. As photographers, that’s just fine. However, when we start a photography business, we, mistakenly, try to be ‘all things to all people’ – we take every photography job offered us.

One of the obvious problems with this approach is our failure to recognize how it drastically cheapens the value of what we do as skilled photographers, in the eyes of the customers. Mistakenly, we want our customers (current and potential) to know that we can photograph anything – after all, we’re very versatile photographers! What the customers actually see is that we’re not “versatile photographers,” we’re just someone with a camera that’s available to take pictures when they call us. Serious photography customers (re: those that can afford to spend regularly) want to do business with specialists – photographers that know their photography niche.

Successful wedding photographers are clear on this, as an example of my point. Their ‘primary’ customer (usually the bride) has dreamed about her wedding day for most of her life. She isn’t looking for a vesatile photographer. She wants a “wedding photographer” that can make her ‘look’ as good, happy and beautiful as she has been in all of her lifelong dreams of ‘her day’ – her wedding day. There’s a special skill to this type of photography service. In fact, this niche has more to do with well developed ‘people skills,’ in my opinion. Successful wedding photographers that are clear on these nuances are more successful in business.

Do your research.

  • Inventory Your Photo Collection – Take a look at your photo collections. Determine what it is that you 1.) shoot the most; 2.) shoot consistently well; and 3.) enjoy shooting. Identify your and categorize the photos into various niches, i.e. portraits, sports, glamor, pets, children, landscape, etc.
  • Research The Photography Markets – Do internet searches using the words “photography niche.” Also, use the type of niche that you think your photos fit. For example, “event photography niche,” “wedding photography niche,” etc. Also, a good source to help identify some of the photo markets is “The Photographer’s Market.” This is a book that is published annually and claims to provide photo buying contacts and information. Online searches are the most useful, in my opinion. Books by author and photographer, Dan Heller are good places to get a better understanding of the vast world of photography, without all the ‘artsy-hype,’ in my opinion. He also has a very informative website – DanHeller.com
  • Identify ‘Real’ Markets – Find out what type of photography (of your specialties) your customers currently are purchasing. What type of photography is selling? At some point, you’ll have to ‘balance’ the realities of the different niches. There can be some factors that aren’t consistent across all photography niches. For example, some niches require longer “workflow” (workflow is the post production process of taking photos) periods and tasks than others. Higher quality portraits normally require photo editing – which is time-consuming. Event photography requires the processing, packaging and delivering (presenting) of photos. True story: I went through my large photo collections and found that I had a very large number of outstandingly beautiful flowers. I can’t begin to tell you my disappointment when I found out that there is ‘virtually’ no market of photos of flowers – it seems that everybody has them already, everybody! Lesson learned – identify ‘real’ markets.

Ten Tips To Assist You To Identify Your Niche

  1. Identify specialties that fit your style:
  2. Determine if you have the necessary equipment for the niche
  3. Do you have identifiable and specific skills in this niche area – can you articulate them?
  4. Who is your target audience
  5. What type of photography do they purchase the most
  6. Where are they taking their photography business currently – your competition
  7. What will be different about your services
  8. Does where you live support your preferable niche
  9. Is your niche ‘stock photography’ or ‘assignment photography’ – do you know the difference
  10. What is the future potential and tendencies of your niche

Fortunately, the internet makes this information just a few clicks away. The information isn’t difficult to find and learn. Knowing your niche increases your confidence tremendously. Truly know your niche – and your photography business will follow!

Don’t Allow Film Photography to Fade Away

Photography is embedded in our lives, from birth to death, and at every stage in between. Even those of us with little interest in photography have most probably carried photographs in our wallets, and hung them on our walls or placed them on a work desk, and personally snapped a few shots. Since the advent of digital photography, we have been taking more photos, and using them for an increased range of activities, especially the wider sharing of images with others. Today, photographs are so common that they can almost escape our notice.

Photography first entered the lives of the general public in 1888, when George Eastman invented and marketed his original Kodak camera. It was a very simple box that came pre-loaded with a 100-exposure roll of film. Once used, the whole camera was sent back to Kodak, where it was reloaded and returned to the customer, while the first roll of film underwent processing.

The simplicity of the camera and film processing made photography accessible to millions of casual amateurs who had no professional training, technical expertise, or aesthetic ability. Eastman’s marketing campaign deliberately featured women and children operating his camera, along with the slogan, “you press the button; we do the rest.”

Snapshot photography became a national craze within a few years, and by 1898, it is estimated that more than 1.5 million roll-film cameras had passed through the hands of amateur users.

Early snapshots were made for purely personal reasons. Typical subjects included important events such as weddings and other less formal family gatherings, holidays and leisure activities, and to capture the transitory appearance of children, pets, and prized possessions such as cars and houses. Images were reproduced as small prints, and a member of the family often arranged the photographs as narrative sequences in albums.

In the early part of the twentieth century, serious amateur photographers started to promote photography as a fine art where – unlike snapshot photography – the photographer demonstrated aesthetic sensibility and technical expertise. This goal was successfully attained, and photography became elevated to an art form.

It didn’t take long for the tide to turn (as it always does), and certainly by the 1950s, the qualities of the snapshot started to become adopted by professional photographers for their honesty, energy, and spontaneity. Grainy, blurred, tilted horizons, erratic framing, and black and white all became an acceptable route to capturing the moment. By the late 1990s, the snapshot finally achieved the status of modern folk art.

These two broad schools of photography produce a dichotomy in camera design and development. For the snap-shooters, cameras remained little changed (technically) from the original, while serious photographers opted for more complex tools that offered far greater precision.

From the mid 1970s, electronics started to take a grip on camera design, and this made improved photographic performance available to the casual photographer, without the need for technical knowledge. However, the biggest step-change emerged and began to dominate around the millennium: the digital camera.

Digital photography was revolutionary because it eliminated the costs and delays inherent with film cameras. It also expanded the options for viewing, editing and sharing pictures, and accordingly the range of uses to which they could be put. Other developments such as the increased ownership of personal computers, and growth of the Internet both supported the benefits and expansion of digital photography.

Today, camera phones are the major photographic device, and social media the foremost manner in which our snap-shots are put to use. While most photography, as in its early days, is largely a point-and-shoot capture of our daily lives, the underlying social behaviours have altered significantly.

For at least the first hundred years of photography, the family was at the heart of our activities. Cameras were usually owned by families, and used to the benefit of that family. While all members may have been participants in the capture of a photograph, one particular person was usually the custodian of the family album. The cost of photography made every shot valuable, and the duds that never made the pages of the family album were still retained.

By contrast, today individuals own cameras, and almost everyone under a certain age has one. Our social circles have changed: we tend to have a far larger pool of more casual acquaintances, and fragmented families. The zero cost of photography means high numbers of shot are taken, but the ease of deletion makes the permanence of images more ethereal.

It is these changes that bring me to the point of this article; to voice the concern that we are creating a historical void where information and details about an era risk being lost. I personally have gaps in the pictorial record of my life that start from the time I too turned to digital photography. Of course I could print my photos, to make them more tangible, and put them in an album, but I don’t: it’s not part of the digital ethos to recreate the limitations that contributed to the demise of film.

Equally, the increased automation of camera technology and accessibility of image manipulation conspire to erode the need for technical expertise, and aesthetic sensibility (at the moment of exposure) that underpinned photography as an art form. Indeed, the only significant recent resurgence in aesthetic film photography – Lomography – champions the abandonment of forethought, rules and knowledge.

I am not advocating that film photography should be fine art: the snap shot is as worthy an approach as it ever was. Neither am I trying to assert that digital photography does not demand skill, nor its images qualify as an art form. My concerned is that yet another skill – photography using unforgiving film – will become lost in a world where we increasingly rely on technology to do our thinking for us. The situation is little different to saying that just because we have calculators, we should forget how to do mental arithmetic. Equally, the craft of compiling a narrative photo album is at risk of loss, in favour of viewing a jumble of images on the tiny screen of a mobile phone, which travels with us in a world where it is continually exposed to the hazards of damage and theft.

In summary, the key difference between digital and film photography is that the former often ends with a click, while the latter merely begins with the clunk of a shutter. If you are on the cusp of a decision to explore or return to film photography, my advice is take the plunge and give it a go. Film photography is an engaging hobby, even if it’s only snapshot style. Its images are more enduring, and have an increased likelihood of surviving the passage of years. When all said and done, photography is merely a process for freezing time, and capturing memories so they can be recalled and enjoyed over and over again, throughout our whole lives.