Last Updated on September 1, 2019 by Charles “Mack” Barnes
My Introduction to Drone Photography
My first introduction to real estate drone photography was after Mack, and I had finished painting an 8 foot by 4 foot OU logo on the front yard of one of our friend’s house. He got his Mavic out and began to get the drone and controller ready for flight. Mack took photos of our artwork from many different heights, while we were standing by the red and white logo, waving at the camera. After choosing the one we liked the best, he sent it by text message to our friend, who just happened to be a Moore policeman working the game in Norman that day.
Before he brought the drone down to its home point, he handed me the controller and told me to fly it. I was scared even to touch it because I was afraid I would crash it. Mack tried to convince me that I couldn’t, so against my better judgment, I took the controller and began to move it around in the sky. I believe that was the seed in Mack’s mind about starting a drone photography service for real estate listings.
Drone Pilot License
The first thing to do was for me to get my FAA 107 Drone’s pilot license so we could legally operate a drone for commercial enterprises. Mack enrolled me in an online, video-driven course that boasted a 95% first-time success in passing the test. Working on this almost obsessively, I completed the course and passed the FAA test in just ten days. During this time Mack was purchasing our equipment to get us ready for business.
Investing in a DJI Inspire 2 drone and a Sony camera, we began our learning curve to market our services to real estate agents. We would go out to different places in Moore and Oklahoma City and start taking photographs and videos. The enhancements only surpassed the quality of the raw photos Mack would do on Photoshop. While he was using the slave controller to take pictures and videos, I was flying the drone with the master controller.
Another essential step in doing drone photography in Oklahoma City and Tulsa was to get our waivers to fly in the controlled airspace of the 4 Oklahoma City airports and the 2 Tulsa significant airports. Mack was cautious about following all the FAA laws before we even began to advertise the opening of Barnes Aerial Photography. With some of the best equipment available, and all the waivers, a pilot’s license, we were ready for business.
Real Estate Photography
One of the benefits of drone photography is the perspective you get from the sky. Photos and videos from a drone’s view look expensive but are very affordable with today’s technology. Whether it’s a 1,500 square foot home or a luxury home located on a golf course, the drone gives a better representation of the property, and there is no doubt that the photos and videos are professional quality. Our current 6K capable camera provides excellent clarity and depth.
Over the months that we’ve been doing this, we have been amazed at how many people have asked us, “Is it hard to fly a drone inside the house?” No, it isn’t because we don’t fly the drone in the houses. For inside the homes we use a 4K camera on a tripod for the photos and a handheld gimbal for videos.
The basic package we have for real estate listings in our indoor/outdoor package that includes both photos and videos. The images are shot in the RAW format and downloaded into Photoshop to be enhanced. Our computer has an 8K monitor that allows us to see the full definition of each picture and gives us the ability to make sure our light enhancements don’t distort any colors.
The outside and inside videos allow us to ‘make a commercial’ showing not only the best features of the listing but also to present the house and its surroundings. Our goal is to keep the video between 60 and 90 seconds because people are conditioned to watching 30-second commercials on television. If you go too long, the people will merely quit watching before the video is completed.
One of the first homes we did was in a gated community. As we were editing and enhancing, it struck me that we hadn’t taken a picture of the beautiful gated entrance. Mack suggested going back (fortunately the listing was only a few miles from Barnes School of Real Estate) and to have my wife go with me and to give her the code to open the gate. I would have the drone flying about 15 feet above the ground and go through as the gate was opening. This made a perfect introduction to the video, and we had the address of the listing on the screen. To close the video, Mack simply reversed the same scene that gave the appearance of the gate closing. The closing had the name and phone number of the agent listing the property.
This home had been on the market for six months with very little interest. The family suggested professional photographs might spark more interest in the property. The agent agreed and contacted us. The very first day the video was published, the home sold. The agent told us that whenever she needed professional photographs, we were going to do them for her.
During this first year, we have also been hired to use our Drone to photograph and video apartment complexes and residential additions. Those kinds of projects require us to fly at the maximum allowed height of 400 foot above ground level. From that distance, we can give a complete view of the not only the primary target but also the surrounding area. These videos look like they were taken from a helicopter-like the news stations use almost every day now. Without drone photography providing these images, the cost would prohibit agents from having them. But now they are available and help agents get the upper hand on their competition.
What ability liability? What if the drone were to crash and cause property damage? Whenever we fly, we have insurance to cover anything kind of damage that might occur.
Drone photography is an exciting new business, and its quite impressive being on the ground floor and watching it take off.
If you’re interested in real estate photography, you can contact us at 405-848-7517 or visit barnesaerial.com.