Oh boy, the busy real estate season is just around the corner and many of us photographers are ready to come out of hibernation! Besides the Hatchimal craze, the biggest trend I've noticed this winter has been the proliferation of "drones". I know you've seen it too. Your neighbor has one. Your nephew Timmy just got one. Hell, even I received (another) one as a gift this year.
Naturally, this has caused a spike in the interest for commercial aerial photography and video services, especially here in the Northern Colorado real estate scene. But before you offer Timmy $20 to take some aerial photos of your new listing, there are a couple of important things to consider.
First, and most importantly, a FAA remote pilot airman certificate is still required for all commercial flights. This is a fairly rigorous test, but ensures that the person operating the drone knows the various classes of airspace that dictate where one can and can't fly. For example, there are certain neighborhoods in Loveland and Fort Collins I simply won't fly in due to restrictions. Ask yourself, do you trust Timmy enough to know when an how to file for authorization to fly in restricted airspace?
Another huge consideration is insurance. Did you know that the liability insurance most photographers carry for their business (if they're insured to begin with) will not cover drone incidents? And while most homeowners insurance policies cover hobby aircraft, those policies do not cover any commercial aircraft operations. There are liability policies that do cover commercial drone incidents but they are ridiculously expensive right now.
To sum it up, the amount of resources (both time and money) spent by operators to obtain their part 107 certification and the high cost insurance is mainly what's driving the high prices for aerial drone photography, not just in Fort Collins, but all across the country. Sure, you can find someone that can take a set of pictures for $5 bucks, but guess who the client is coming after if someone goes horribly wrong?