Let's Clear the Air on "Drone" Imagery!
Much has been reported, discussed, blogged and in general, chatted about relative to the use of "drones" for everything from flying competitions to outdoor events... and yes, for capturing imagery to promote a business or service.
I've had many one-on-one conversations with clients and simply curious folks in the past month about what we do at Elevated Exposures. The news media has been in a frenzy in its reporting of every drone "incident" and "legal battle" that they can uncover... and therein lies the problem.
First, I don't use the term "drone" when referencing our flying equipment, because it is actually a "Hobbyist Class Unmanned Quadcopter" and therefore falls under the flying regulations of "Model Aircraft Operating Standards" (FAA Advisory Circular AC 91-57 issued 6/9/81). These guidelines provide for the rules in terms of maximum altitude and also proximity to controlled airspace. We abide by the terms of these standards in all of our operations. Unfortunately, the public (and the media) have lumped equipment such as ours into the "drone" category, a category that carries so much negative baggage these days given the many privacy issues and also the discussions around military and governmental use of large, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
The FAA has stated that it is considering updating and revising standards and regulations for all categories of UAVs, and that may or may not end up applying to devices like ours that are currently regulated under AC 91-57. The latest word from the FAA is that they expect their recommendations to be made some time in late 2015.
But for photographers and videographers such as the Elevated Exposures team, the lack of clarity from the FAA coupled with the sensationalized reporting in the media continues to confuse clients and potential clients, which creates a whole new set of business challenges for us.
At Elevated Exposures, any services that we charge for are related to the actual processing, editing and post-production for any imagery we capture... be it ground-based or aerial. We have always found this the best way to work, both within the law and also to make our pricing model clear and easy-to-understand for our clients. The imagery we capture is not charged for, and the rights to any imagery is always retained by our studio. Clients simply pay us for producing and editing imagery for their use in their own marketing and promotional efforts. Operating in this way assures both our employees and our clients that we're following any existing rules governing flight. As any governmental actions take place regarding revising these regulations, we will carefully align our business practices to make sure that we continue to operate with those regulations.