Aerial photography has been practiced since Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, known as Nadar, photographed Paris from a hot air balloon in 1858. Drones are just the latest method of doing aerial photography. New Canadian regulations make recreational drone photography more difficult, and, in many cities, downright impossible. But taking photographs with a drone is considered commercial, as opposed to recreational, so different rules apply.
Transportation minister Marc Garneau pointed out in a CBC interview that “people who use drones for commercial, academic, or research reasons already have to get a special certificate, and most fly them safely.”
Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky uses helicopters and small aircraft for breathtaking aerial photographs that call attention to environmental issues. In China, he had a lot of problems with slow-moving bureaucracy and decided to experiment with a drone. In a story in the Telegraph, Burtynsky explained, “The whole process started from the question, ‘How can I stand where I want to stand and shoot from where I want to shoot, in a place where I can’t get up in the air?’”
Drone photography has many potential problems. Lucy Davies, writer of the Telegraph piece, pointed out, “Drone photographers are on the increase, but the number of people who are getting decent results from them remains low. There is a saying in the industry that every production company has a broken drone in the cupboard, which is fairly accurate. It’s not as easy as it looks.”
Additionally, there are all the security and privacy issues. Tiny drones already exist, and they are only likely to get smaller. Every time I read a drone story, I remember Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slapstick, with miniaturized people zipping around undetectably.
Ultimately, it’s good to keep in mind that art is produced by people, not by machines.
Phototip: If don’t have a drone to capture photos, try to find a high rise with a glass enclosed elevator.