With drone photography, things right now are very fast-paced, both in the development of the tech and the implementation of the rules. There’s a lot I can tell you about drone photography. Overarching all of the creative elements the single, most important piece of advice I can give you is this:
Make sure you know the local drone laws, wherever you are and wherever you’re going!
As I mentioned, there’s a lot I can teach about drone photography, I’ve written a lot about it and I have a course live on KelbyOne all about it right now. The appeal of drone photography is huge. It’s been maximized by DJI, who are now the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer (true story) and camera manufacturer. Others such as Parrot and Yuneec are also cashing in on us photographers and our constant quest for new angles.
These new angles are the big appeal, and rightly so. Creatives have it embedded within them. Since our childhood, we have been scoping out birds-eye views. Think about it for a second, when we’re on a plane and we come into land we often stare out of the windows looking for a point of reference in order to see what is familiar to us from a new perspective, such as searching for our home or our favorite stadium, or simply a city skyline. Drones are here to stay. The rules are being implemented and enacted for everybody’s protection. But what does that actually mean for photographers?
We can and should make ourselves familiar with the drone laws and regulations everywhere we go to avoid embarrassing and potentially costly situations, just like my awkward and costly situation in Morocco!
Ok, here’s what happened: I was in Portugal with some friends and we jumped on a little Embraer jet over to Marrakech, Morocco to saunter about the souks and capture some camels (photographically, of course.) On arriving in Marrakech airport a whole new experience greeted us – a security scanner on the exit. I’d never seen an x-ray machine on leaving an airport before, and to put some perspective on that I took 36 flights that year as a travel photographer. I was wondering why it was there and my inner monologue was working overdrive wondering if perhaps there was a drugs problem or they were maybe looking for organic matter like meat, but as we got closer and my friend went ahead of me it became clear.
My friend was ahead. Security opened his suitcase and they were very interested in his headphone case. They were checking that inside it was actually a set of headphones and whilst watching I realized that I had a very similar looking case but inside mine was a DJI Mavic. They wanted my drone and there was nothing I could do about it!
It should be obvious what happened next. They confiscated my drone! I was escorted to the customs office by a guard and I sat down at the desk of a very official-looking gentleman. He spoke only Arabic and French, so I had to make do with my schoolboy French to work out what was happening with my drone.
As my drone taken from me by the officer to my right, the chap at the desk had me sign a form (in French and Arabic) covered in his scrawling which essentially said they were keeping it and if I wanted it back when I left the country I could return to the customs office and pay a restoration fee. Here’s what that looked like:
This is the ‘official chap’ who took my drone and added it to the collection you see atop the filing cabinet. It was stored without the case.
My ‘receipt’ was presented to me, complete with the wrong passport number.
What I’m getting at here is that it is very important to know where you can fly your drone. It’s also important to know what the restrictions are including whether or not you can even take it into another country at all. You can find all the information about that here. What ended up happening to me isn’t something I want any of you to go through. I learned the hard way. I suffered a few days of stress and anxiety. I wondered whether or not I’d ever see my beloved Mavic again. When I left Morocco I paid the fee and got it back. If you were wondering, here’s what that looked like:
Stacked on all the shelves on both sides of the room area all the confiscated drones. I spent a good few minutes waiting for the customs officer to find my drone amongst the pile. Again, here is the link to the global drone laws, and don’t be put off, just be aware!
I’m Dave Williams and I’m new around here at DIYPhotography.net – thanks for having me. If you’d like to know who I am, there’s a little snippet right down below in the bottom to give you a glimpse.
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