Drone Photography makes capturing those amazing once-in-a-lifetime shots possible. 

Whether it be for business or personal use, drones are revolutionizing the way we communicate imagery. Breathtaking photos are now easier than ever to take. 

A drone can reach heights that forever seemed impossible. This changes how real estate photographers approach their work. To stay current with the latest real estate photography trends, we have produced a list of the top 5 things you must do when starting your drone photography career. 

Issues may arise without the proper training, and with such a large investment into your photography equipment, it would be wise to be clued up on how to use it properly and safely.

These are the top tips when it comes to operating a drone in real estate photography:

1. Make sure you have the right drone for the job

 The options of drones can seem insurmountable. One search into the internet can produce hundreds of various brands, types, and styles of drones. This can be confusing, to say the least.

When it comes to types of drones, there are only two main kinds to start: Ones which you can attach your own camera too, and those which come with a camera already built into the drone. The benefit of having a drone with a camera already built-in is that you won’t have to spend money on a drone appropriate camera as well. The downside of these kinds of drones is that the quality of the imagery taken from the built-in camera won’t be as high resolution as your own attached camera. Take this into consideration when buying a built-in camera drone. 

On the other hand, you have drones that allow you to connect your own camera, which can greatly improve the quality of the pictures you take. It is an added risk to attach your own camera, but after learning the basics of flying and handling, you will be taking to the skies safely in no time.

Be careful when considering the size of the drone as well. For beginners, it is important to choose one that matches your skill. This means choosing a lighter and smaller drone in size due to the less risk of something going wrong in driving the drone. Once you improve your drone flying abilities, you can invest in a larger and sturdier drone for higher quality images, as those are often are drones you can attach your own camera to. 

Range, built-in lighting, and the capability to fly outdoors are all important features to consider when deciding the right drone for you and the job. Often real estate photographers will pick a drone that attaches their own camera while being able to fly outdoors.

2. Take time to understand the features

A drone may seem pretty cut and dry when it comes to operating, but it is not always what meets the eye. Some features are exclusive to one type of drone, while others may not use the same system. It is important to learn what your drone can and can’t do in order to get the most value for your money and the best photos for your customers.These features include:

Phone feed

Many people find that their smartphone is an extension of their arm, and that’s no different for a real estate photographer. Having your phone nearby for calls and texts is one thing, but did you know you can also use it on some drones to watch the view of the drone? It is great for beginners because a drone with a built-in camera will often show the view through a smartphone, and this makes it very easy to access as most people have a smartphone already.

Stabilization mode

 This is often called “beginner mode” for drone users, as inexperienced operators will not be used to wind and other flying related issues such as elevation when it comes to using the drone for the first time. Many good drones worth buying will have a mode that allows for stabilizing internally, so you don’t have to worry about the imagery looking choppy or of poor quality.


This is useful for jobs in which you are needing to keep to a certain elevation when taking shots and making sure the drone doesn’t run out of reception while connected to your phone. When turned on, this feature will prevent the drone from flying out of range and keeps it in a certain area that you determine, such as height and distance from the user.

3. Read the Manual!

You’ve chosen and bought your ideal drone, and now your area ready to begin soaring to new heights in your business and in your photography. There’s only one thing: learning to operate the drone.

 It may not be very exciting or even very interesting, but learning to safely operate and handle your drone is crucial to protecting your investment and also preventing any unnecessary damage to property.

Many drone-making companies are very good at explaining the features, do’s, and don’ts of operating a drone in their manuals. It may take a bit of extra time to read, but the benefits are huge. Learning to always keep your drone safe and protecting it will provide a return on investment well into the future on many more jobs to come.

4. Every job: Complete a pre-flight checklist

So, you’ve researched and bought your own drone and learned how to operate it safely. What is important now, as one last step, is to do a quick pre-flying check. 

Before taking to the skies, consider this:

  • Battery life: Is the battery going to last the duration of the job? (important as you don’t want the battery dying mid-flight)
  • Drone Setting: How would you set your camera to adjust to the conditions? Is it day or dusk? What kind of lighting and resolution do you need? Consider the settings of the built-in or attached camera.
  • Propeller Mechanism: Are the propellors damaged? Are you needing to replace them now, or soon?
  • Area and weather condition: have you checked if you can operate in the area, and how is the weather? Is it too windy or raining?
  • Other persons: Are there many people in the area, and would it be safe to operate high/low. Would you need to make neighbors aware of your presence?
  • Body: Is the engine making any strange noises? Are the fittings nice and tight and not going to come off?
  • Controller: When using a drone through your phone: is that phone fully charged and have good reception? Is it fitted correctly into the remote? Consider if the remote has enough battery life also.

You are now ready to begin flying your drone!

5. Become familiar with all local council laws and regulations

There are laws surrounding the proper use of unmanned aircraft in the United States and in many parts of the world. Drones used for a commercial purpose (business) require an FAA part 107 license. It is important to be lawful as a real estate photographer to prevent nasty surprises.

It is pretty self-explanatory, but there are some areas where you cannot fly drones, such as airports or near government buildings. It is also important to tell nearby neighbors about your drone photography if taking shots of a property. This is good practice and should be done every job you undertake.

6. Practice!

Practice, practice, practice! The old adage is important in all aspects of business and life, and this is no different when it comes to drone operation.

Learning how to safely navigate the drone is no walk in the park and doing it consistently requires dedication to craft and an ability to learn a new skill.

Go to places and areas that are free of other people during a time that is not busy, without taking any photos, and just learn the basics of navigation first. Learning how to rotate and pivot to get good angles.

Perfect areas are places such as fields and rural parks. You can greatly minimize potential damage to a drone and property by learning the controls before starting a job.


The rest is now up to you. Whether you learn new techniques for real estate photography, event photography, or anything else, it is important to be safe while operating. Keeping good practice at the forefront of your mind every time you start a new job will not only keep your drone safe but allow you to take some truly amazing shots, only possible from drone photography.


Jordan Wehi is a photographer for Photographybne based in Brisbane, AU

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