For the majority of the newcomers to the drone hobby, flying is associated not only with excitement and tons of fun, but also with fear. Since so many people are buying drones recently, it’s perfectly natural that many of them are concerned when it comes to flying for the first time. In this article, I’ll list the five common fears the beginner pilots have and few tips on how to overcome them.
1. Being overwhelmed by the technology
The first and most common fear is the fear of the technology itself. If you’re still relatively new to drone flying, you’re probably overwhelmed by the amount of information you have to learn in order to start enjoying the hobby. Just think about it – flight checklists, gimbal adjustments, camera settings, filters, battery levels, altitude settings, no-fly zones, keeping the video recording smooth and cinematic…it’s easy to see why sometimes the information becomes too much to handle.
The good news is that there’s a simple solution for all of this: Take each of those elements by itself and break it down into smaller milestones, until you feel comfortable with it. Now it’s easier than ever to find relevant information about the things you should know about your drone. Probably one of the best advices I could give you is to give yourself some time to learn the basics before you even own your first drone. I’ve taken a course which explained everything there is to know about drones before I even ordered my first quadcopter, and even though I’ve been very impatient to try out what I’ve learnt, I stuck until I’ve finished the course and then I was able to apply what I’ve learned.
To summarize – keep it simple, focus on individual elements and read about them, watch videos and tutorials about them until you feel you know your stuff. Then focus on the next thing. Don’t rush, because more than likely you’ll miss something important.
2. Fear of losing or crashing your drone
You’ve read and watched all the tutorials on the internet, you’ve spent hours on the simulator and you finally feel ready to fly your own quadcopter. You are really excited, but you’re still scared. You’ve probably invested a ton of money in your drone and you don’t want to risk crashing it. You get in the air and even the slightest gust of wind or change of direction makes you panic and push the sticks the wrong way. And that’s perfectly understandable.
So how do you overcome this fear?
First – find a wide open area (preferably a large grass field). Make sure you are set to GPS mode and ensure your home point is set. Take your time and fly slowly, not too high and not too far. If you get nervous or unsure of your orientation, just let go of the sticks – your drone will just hover in place, which is much better than wobbling left-right (Note: that’s only if your drone supports hover function – most of the newer quadcopters which are not toy-grade have this feature enabled by default). Then, start practicing doing figures with your drone, such as a rectangular or circle. As you get more comfortable, switch the orientation of the drone – try facing backwards, forward and sideways.
Another option if you’re using a DJI drone is to buy DJI Care – a service which covers the amount equal to the market price of your aircraft and offers unlimited repairs. It costs $299 per year. Many people get less stressed about their aircraft by knowing its repairs are covered.
If you’re looking for other options, you can consider attaching a GPS tracker to your drone, or simply purchase a less costly quadcopter you can mess around with until you can get your orientations – if you can master the toy flying and fighting the wind, you’ll have no fear flying your expensive $1000 toy.
3. Fear of not getting the perfect shot
So you’ve finally reached the point where you are comfortable with your drone and you get up there looking for the perfect shot. Whether it’s photo or video, often things are not as easy as they seem. I think it’s safe to say that each and every one of us has been in a situation where you get home after a long day of drone shooting, you open up Adobe Lightroom to import your photos and you realize that you’ve messed something up and your photos aren’t perfect. This could be due to wrong camera settings, bad lighting or composition or anything else – you are just not happy with the final result. Sometimes that’s enough to knock down your confidence and bring you down to a level where you’ll avoid taking photos/videos.
However, the truth is that everyone makes mistakes, even the best “droners” out there. The key is to not give up and learn from your mistakes. You can do that by looking at other drone photographers for inspiration (here are some of my favorite ones – Daniel Peckham, Kenji Croman, Dirk Dallas, Lance Asper) or by reading tutorials (this is an awesome tutorial). Soon you’ll start to really understand how to use your drone as your “weapon” and get those amazing shots. Over the course of owning a couple of drones, I’ve learnt a lot not only from the bigger guys out there, but also from my own mistakes. So don’t beat yourself up about it, pick up your drone and just practice more!
4. Fear of trying something new
Since drones are still quite new, there are many people out there who are still not quite experienced with them. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because it allows them to not have any boundaries when it comes to shooting. When you’re fresh into the hobby, you feel motivated, excited and ready to experiment.
However, for some the fear of not being “within the frame” of what most people do is a huge limitation. Remember when I mentioned you should look at other drone photographers for inspiration in the previous point? While this is really important in the beginning when you’re still learning, it should only be used to a certain extent. Make sure you develop your unique style of shooting – there’s no right and wrong way of doing things in drone photography. Some people like HDR effect photos, some like really bright and sharp ones, etc. Just make sure you’re happy with the final result – that’s what matters.
Check the video below (Around the 2:00 minute mark) to see some pretty extraordinary shots!
5. Fear of being rejected by your audience
This point is very connected to the previous one. Nowadays social media allows us to post whatever we like, and people are often afraid to publish their work, because they feel it’s not good enough and they will be rejected or not liked by their audience. My advice is to not be afraid to put yourself out there just because some people might not like the pictures you’ve taken. If there’s one thing I’m really sure about, it’s this: There will always, always, always be somebody who’ll find something negative to say about the things you do (that’s a general rule in life). Just because one person doesn’t like the images you’ve created doesn’t mean others feel the same way and you should definitely not let this discourage you. If you’ve found that drone photography is something that makes you excited, just make sure you learn from your mistakes, push forward and keep growing.
Drone photography can be an extremely rewarding hobby, but it often scares the beginners with the large amount of useful information they need to know. Thankfully, this is all very easy to overcome with practice and perseverance.
Let me know in the comments if you have any fears which I haven’t touched upon or if you’ve managed to overcome some of those I’ve listed.