Pricing drone photography and video services has become an issue for the industry as a whole. Drone technology has come a long way since its inception, opening up numerous avenues for business opportunities. In recent years, the demand for drone services has increased significantly. Drone pilots are key in providing stunning aerial images and videos that businesses and individuals can use for various purposes. However, a problem persists – many amateur and uninsured drone pilots are undercharging for their drone services, which results in undervaluing the true skills and expertise in this industry.
In this post, we’ll explore pricing drone photography and video services. We will discuss why drone pilots should not shortchange themselves and help them dive into how drone pilots can calculate drone services pricing, what licensing fees are, and why they are essential to account for when creating quotes for customers.
Drone Photography Prices
Without this step, many who wish to launch a business will likely result in a loss and could put the business out of commission. Novice drone pilots often start in this business without proper planning or exploring pricing – often leading to undercharging. When determining pricing, drone pilots must consider their expenses, time spent, and expertise. This involves factoring in the cost of equipment, labor, insurance, travel, maintenance, repairs, among other relevant expenses. It is our opinion that most drone operators who are running a professional operation will have an average cost of drone photography at about $200 per hour for capturing footage, if not more. It should be noted that this drone footage cost per hour reflects the time spent on-site, not the amount of footage that will be produced.
Licensing Fees and Usage Rights
Clients compensate drone pilots for the images and videos they capture, and it is usually expected the client has the necessary rights to use the footage. Professional drone service providers must understand licensing and intellectual property protection. Typically, the drone pilot (photographer) becomes the copyright holder once they capture footage. As such, it is essential to know what the client intends to use the footage for to determine the appropriate licensing fee. The fee should be significant enough to cover the production cost, as well as the value of the image.
Several factors go into licensing fees. These factors include but are not limited to the term, territory, uniqueness of images, and how the footage will be used. Some clients may want exclusive rights to the footage, while others may only require ownership for a specific time. As such, drone pilots (photographers) must negotiate and agree upon the licensing fee before capturing any footage. Drone pilots must also stipulate within the license agreement, the circumstances that permit them to revoke the license should the client breach the agreement.
It is worth noting that drone pilots must not use licensing fees as an avenue for undervaluing their services. When setting licensing fees, it is crucial to consider different factors and ensure that they are reasonable for all parties involved. Drone pilots must demonstrate value for money to clients by providing top-notch services that are not only creative but tailored towards the client’s needs.
Drone Real Estate Photography
A large percentage of drone pilots start by providing photos for real estate agents. Having reviewed dozens of sites offering real estate photography, it is disappointing to discover some real estate drone photography pricing on drone real estate packages and video are as low as $50. Charging so little for an aerial unique point of view does not correspond of the value that the image provides.
In real estate photography, agents rarely read license agreements for photos and videos – many think they own the copyright, but that is not the case. Agents are given permission by the photographer (often in terms and conditions that they agree to when placing an order) that they can use the photos for that one listing. We also give our customers the ability to continue using the photos and videos to market themselves to get more listings.
Agents pay more for drone footage because they understand the value that it brings to their listing. With a properly photographed property, agents get more views, more leads, and may even be able to sell the property faster. In the case of commercial real estate, or vacation rental properties, the act of taking the photos by the photographer may be the same, but the usage becomes different. Drone photography pricing rates will differ from real estate drone video pricing to wedding drone photography costs, to short-term vacation rentals like Airbnb® and VRBO®.
As a side note, we should also mention quickly on the matter of stock pricing drone photography. We have submitted some of our footage to stock image libraries like Shutterstock, but have shifted focused mainly to editorial licensing. Stock photography sites do not allow you to add your own pricing.
Undercharging is an epidemic
Professional drone pilots must also ensure that they do not undercharge for their services. Failing to uphold the value of their skills and expertise contributes to the devaluation of the industry as a whole. Clients should acknowledge and respect the value that drone pilots bring to their services. Drone pilots must be confident in their pricing and explain to clients why they should pay reasonable fees. It is better to lose a client than to undercharge and devalue the industry’s worth.
A Summary of Pricing Drone Photography and Video Services
In the drone industry, undercharging for services may be perceived as a result of the industry’s infancy. However, it is essential for drone pilots to know the value they bring to the table and charge reasonably for their services. Understanding licensing and usage rights is an integral aspect of pricing drone photography and video services.
Pilots must remember to charge appropriate prices for their skills, and they should also understand how to set reasonable licensing fees based on the factors noted in this post – especially usage. The drone industry is growing, and it is essential that drone pilots (photographers) understand their worth and set fair prices that benefit them and the industry as a whole.
Pricing drone photography and video services does not have to be complicated. We use industry leading freelance photographer software to set our licensing fees. This is the same software used by Time®, MLB®, Nike®, gettyimages®, and more. If you are interested in learning more about this software, contact us and we will share information with you.
Danny Garcia is the founder of DG Digital Services LLC, RealEstatePhotographyAtlanta.com, and FlyingLenz.com. He has been flying drones since 2013, has the FAA Part 107 license and is also accredited by the Professional Photographers of America as a Certified Drone Photographer.