Is drone photography an art form?

Given the extensive automation that is characteristic of modern drones (such as the DJI Phantom series), it is easy to dismiss drone photography as the aerial equivalent of using a “point and shoot” camera (or smart phone) to snap a few photos while on a whirlwind tour of an exotic locale.  The only difference is that, when using a drone, the “point and shoot” camera is hovering a few hundred feet above the ground.  I suspect that this perception is reinforced by the fact that many people purchase drones just for the fun of flying a little aircraft, with the photography/videography relegated to secondary importance.

However; artistic photographs can be, and are taken with smart phone cameras all the time.  And, these images are, in many cases, created by people with no formal training in photography.  Indeed, some photographic magazines are now featuring articles on how to take better photos with one’s smart phone, and are showcasing smart phone images taken by professional photojournalists!

So, what does this tell us?

It tells us that people who have an “eye” for composition can still create great photographs even if they are using cameras with little or no manual override features.

How does this apply to drones?  The answer is quite simple.

The “rules” of composition are the same at three hundred feet above ground level, as they are on the ground.  One’s eye for composition is as useful when looking at a drone’s-eye image on a tablet, as it is looking through a camera’s view finder or at a smart phone’s LCD screen.  This is the beauty of our gyro-stabilized drones; they provide us with, essentially, a flying tripod, which enables us to worry less about the flying, while allowing us to concentrate on creating great art!


This image was taken with my DJI Phantom 4, over the Calico Mountains.  1/2500th sec. @ f/2.8.  ISO 100.  The drone’s camera was set in “automatic” mode.

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