Becoming Professional

How To Present Yourself And Keep Business Running Smoothly

There are two aspects to becoming a professional: Appearing Professional and Being Professional. Appearing professional is a matter of how you present yourself and how you are perceived. Being professional, on the other hand, is a matter of how you conduct business and includes having the functionality that a professional drone photographer should have.

This course will cover information on how to increase your level of professionalism and will recommend tools and practices that can take your business to the next level.

A huge part of both being and appearing professional is having the right equipment. There are many drone models available to enthusiasts in the market today and you have to do some research in order to figure out which model is right for you. Thankfully, doing this research is not hard thanks to others who have gathered that information and compiled it in a user-friendly manners for us.


How To Know What To Charge

What should I charge?

There is no standard rate for drone photography services. Applications range from real estate photography to building inspection and drone operators can charge from $200/hr to $5,000 per session. It does not really cost you any money to fly your drone or edit the footage, so your price will be determined by the value you provide instead.


Just by owning a drone and being able to operate it, you can provide the cheapest, most effective aerial photography solution available to people and businesses today. Before drones were popular, aerial footage was taken from an airplane or helicopter usually at a very high cost and lower quality than what drones can deliver.

It’s important to keep in mind the unique advantages that drone photography offers. Drones can take high definition photos and videos from any angle on any property. The right shots can make a big difference in a marketing campaign, help sell a house, provide a new perspective on big problems, or share amazing views.

As an aerial photographer you are not just selling pictures. You are also selling your knowledge, skills, and expertise as a professional.


Communicating your value is possibly the most important aspect of setting a price for a shoot. Regardless of the price point you choose for a particular job you have to be able to explain where your value is coming from. You don’t want to propose a $1,000 shoot and have a client outraged at the fact that “all you are doing is taking pictures”. As we discussed earlier, you are not just taking pictures. You are selling your professionalism; you are selling your equipment, your skill, your quality… You know all this because you are the professional, your client may not know this. It is your job to COMMUNICATE YOUR VALUE to your clients.

Average Rates

3 Common Ways To Charge For Drone Photography

Per Session

$500- $1500

Half Day


Full Day




Photo/Video Editing Rates

Hourly – $110
Half Day (4hrs) – $550
Full Day (8hrs) – $933

*Statistics were calculated from data collected from drone photography listings across the U.S.. Costs do not include additional expenses (travel, etc.).


Photographers can make additional income by selling the copyright to the pictures they take.
For Example:
Your regular flight charge might include a 5 year credited copyright that allows clients to use your footage for 5 years as long as they credit you. For an additional fee the client could buy the full copyright to your footage giving them unlimited control over it without having to credit you.
For more information check out: Photography Copyright and The Law


Essential Software For Any Drone Business

Flight Management

There are a lot of things to keep in mind while you are flying. These tools will help you stay organized and fly safely.


  • Flight Readiness Dashboard
  • Aggregated News Feed
  • Fly Zone Maps
  • Make sure you fly legally and safely
  • Flight Indicator
  • A simple fly/no-fly indicator for pilots
  • Real-Time Weather
  • Yahoo Weather’s API, and localized via GPS
  • Flight Log
  • Record Flight Data

Hover App Website


  • Skyward provides software and support for drone operators who want to run a professional business
  • Drone Airspace Map
  • Simplifies complex rules of aviation
  • Shows operators where to fly
  • Flight Planning & Logging
  • Manage drones, equipment, and personnel
  • Access regulatory and operational documents
  • Business Management Software
  • Manage drones, equipment, and personnel
  • Online storage of regulatory and operational documents
  • Support from Experts
  • Regulatory assistance with 333s, COAs, SFOCs – approvals, compliance, and reporting
  • Operational experts supporting drone businesses in multiple countries

Skyward Website

Image/Video Storage

These tools will allows you to store and share high resolution images and videos


  • Easy peer to peer file sharing and cloud storage
  • File backup
  • Get all the space you need for the entire company.
  • Access across all your devices
  • Files in your Dropbox folder stay updated on every device linked to your account. Save something on your laptop, and it automatically syncs to your desktop computer, as well as your iOS, Android, Windows, or Blackberry mobile devices.
  • Flexible Storage
  • Avoid overwhelming your computer’s hard drive. With our Selective Sync feature, you can stop certain folders from syncing to your computer(s), so you can keep rarely used files in the cloud, not on your hard drive.

Dropbox Website

Google Drive

  • Easy peer to peer file sharing and cloud storage
  • Store any file
  • Drive starts you with 15 GB of free Google online storage, so you can keep photos, stories, designs, drawings, recordings, videos – anything.
  • See your stuff anywhere
  • Your files in Drive can be reached from any smartphone, tablet, or computer. So wherever you go, your files follow.
  • Share files and folders
  • You can quickly invite others to view, download, and collaborate on all the files you want–no email attachment needed.

GoogleDrive Website

Image/Video Editing

If your final product doesn’t look professional, neither do you. These tools will help you get the job done right.

GoPro Studio

  • Free
  • Easily create engaging GoPro-style videos—trim, edit and mix video clips, plus add titles, music and audio tracks
  • Fisheye adjustment control
  • Slow-motion and fast-motion speed changes
  • Export video still frames at full resolution
  • Supports GoPro, Canon®, Nikon® and other constant frame rate H.264 mp4 and .mov4 formats

GoPro Studio Website

Adobe Premiere

  • $15.99+/month
  • Extensive set of editing features
  • Includes nearly all image and video file formats including 4k and raw formats
  • Integrates with other Adobe programs
  • Advanced color control

Adobe Premiere Website


Do I Need Insurance?

Until recently, homeowner’s insurance policies covered radio controlled aircraft. However, with innovations in the drone industry, insurance companies have begun reconsidering the coverage of these policies.

Whenever doing anything commercial in nature it is smart to consider what could go wrong and limit your liability if anything were to happen. This is where Liability Insurance comes in.

Drone specific liability policies are slowly becoming developed by companies as the market expands.

For more information on…

What drone insurance is
Accident and liability coverage
How much UAS insurance costs
How to get insured
Companies that will insure your UAV
How to file a drone insurance claim
…make sure to refer to this section’s “Reference Links” box.

Creating A Portfolio

One of the most important and effective marketing tools a photographer has is his portfolio. With the use of a portfolio an operator can not only attract business but also set themselves apart from others offering the same service.

When building your portfolio it is important to remember to keep a consistent quality across all your presented work. Your attention to detail on the editing of a photograph or the angle of approach for a video could be the selling point that creates customers out of people viewing your work.

The first thing to consider when creating an online portfolio is whether you want to build your own website or use an existing portfolio building platform. Both sides have their pros and cons but what it comes down to is this:

A personal website will be the most customizable of all available options. Building a good looking website will take time but in the long run will offer a larger range of artistic possibilities than any builder site. Having a personal website you will have to worry about generating traffic to it through SEO and other technical marketing strategies including but not limited to online solutions.

A portfolio building website will be the fastest and most user friendly solution. Most photographers are not website builders however through the use of customizable templates they are able to create professional looking pages to showcase their work. Furthermore, when using a builder site you will not have to worry about SEO since the website manages that and there are usually already strategies in place to draw traffic to the site.

For more information on what to consider when creating your portfolio check out:

Tips on Creating Your Online Photography Portfolio

HiFly Photography helps connect both aspiring and established operators with aerial photography jobs. By applying to join at HiFly you can be added to our directory of professional photographers and can be searched by customers in your area.

Staying Current

As a professional it is your job to maintain yourself fully informed about everything aerial photography related. Whether it be drone law, new quadcopter hardware or new software having current knowledge of your field of expertise is the most telltale sign of professionalism. The good news is that despite the rapidly changing world of drones achieving this is not as hard as it sounds!

There are many news outlets on the web that are tailored for drone fanatics and sUAV enthusiasts. Staying up to date on the world of drones is as easy as scrolling through the main page of your choice of news sources everyday.

Top 100 Drone News Websites 2015


Part of knowing your trade is knowing the lingo! Some things to familiarize yourself with when just starting off are:
Photo/Video Formats
Editing Terms
File Sharing
NAS and Drone guidelines