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HelicopterAerial Photography and Video › No More Ap For Profit!
11-29-2007 07:47 AM  9 years agoPost 1
rroback

rrElite Veteran

Irvine (UCI), Ca

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Well, I'm not sure why I felt like posting, but I do. I'm calling it quits, and I figure, I've got some suggestions now for the people just starting. I've been shooting ap for about 2 years now, and in that time, I've paid for all my helicopter equipment, photo equipment, and some money for school. I've done commercial, residential, shot roofs, houses, buildings, lots, done panos, and basically flown in every sort of sketchy situation. Recently though, my availability has been decreasing, as I'm a full time student, and I currently have class, 9-5, 5 days a week, which leaves little time for shooting. Here's some stuff I learned:

1. Be professional, always. Clients can be annoying, but you must never let them get to you.
2. Don't let clients control you. You need them, but they need you. Be reasonable, but don't fold
3. Be open to suggestions, and always ask clients for comments. They're quite honest, and make sure you make them happy. Sometimes, they even have good ideas.
4. Your equipment must be ready, all the time.
5. You're not being paid to fly a helicopter, you're being paid for photos. Clients don't care about you helicopter, they care about the photos. They don't care about your camera, they care about the photos.
6. It doesn't matter how you get the photos, just that you get the photos. clients don't care. they care about photos.
7. Let me rephrase, many on this forum thing their equipment is cool ( which it us), but clients don't pay you to look at your equipment
8. Have high standards. If you're not happy with your work, the clients might not be. If you always have high standards, you'll make sure the clients are pleased.
9. Go above and beyond. Spend an extra 10 minutes editing. include and extra couple photos. Especially for new clients. make them happy. but, don't forget rule 2.
10. You must be an excellent pilot, especially if flying in populated areas. It's a fact. I can't afford to have to strain to fly the helicopter, I must rely on years of experience.
11. If you're not confidant, don't risk it. It won't end well.
12. Practice flying in every situation, so that when you encounter it, you'll be used to it. Overcast, sunny, windy.
13. Learn to takeoff in small areas, and land. take off and land under trees.
14. Don't be sketchy. Always alert neighbors, and tell people exactly what you're doing. Don't show up it ripped jeans, and just take off. Survey the area, alert authorities if needed.
15. Don't ever put anyone directly at risk. The helicopter is replaceable. I don't care if that means dropping your turbine into the ocean. Do it. don't think.
16. This should go without saying, but your helicopter needs periodic maintenance. And, always be conscious. if you hear a noise, land. Better to land, and miss a shoot, then risk a crash.
17. If you're not a photographer, don't do ap. Take lots of photos on the ground.
18.Use the minimum amount of gear needed to get the shot done. Some of you can successfully use a slow stick, some a logo 10, some a maxi joker 2. I used a maxi joker, but I've tried a e-raptor, and a mini joker, and a mast and none of them could get the job done. Doesn't mean it won't work for you. Having a maxi joker2 didn't make my photos better, but it allowed me to safely haul my 5D, and auto it, it very tight areas, and fly for the duration I needed to get my shots done.
19. Be well organized. With everything. With tools, with boxes, with clients, with checks, with logs. I'm organizationally challenged, but I've got multiple checklists depending on the job site. If you want to follow number 4, then have checklists. preflight, and one for packing the car.
20. Carry all your tools. Might be a pain, but you'll need all of them. Even the obscure ones. I carry 4 types of tape.
21. A trick for shooting homes, if you're flying over others homes, or if there are bystanders, try to snap a shot of the people, or the other homes, and send them some free sample photos. It's great pr. And, people who are happy are less likely to sue you ( that's a joke of course...)

I'm sure I'll add more, and feel free to ad you own ideas. Just some info about me. I'm 21, been flying since I was about 11, and I've flown basically everything, ducted fans, slope stuff, pylon, f5b. I've also been a photographer since about the same age, and done a couple paying gigs before ap, shot a prom, helped at weddings, portraits, worked in a darkroom for 3 years in high school.. and took some photo classes with amazing photographers. There are guys who are quite amazing on this forum, much better then myself, but I believe my rules hold true as much with them. I love how interested people are in AP, but some of their helicopter setups, attitudes, and photos are a bit questionable, and I want people to be successful! I'm still going to be flying, and still shooting, but I'd like to use my free time ( not that I have any) for flying for fun, and I'm still hoping to do some AP, hopefully filming sailing, mtn biking, and surfing.

Rhett..... I can't fly, but the Profi sure can.

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11-29-2007 10:27 AM  9 years agoPost 2
Hogster

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Surrey, UK

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I admire (and am slightly envious of ) your perseverance and success Rhett I'm the same age as you (more or less), but have only been APing for a year and a half or two. Have yet to pay for all my equipment ... hopefully in the next few months I'll be getting more jobs to do as I've got a little more time on my hands and hence I'll be actively seeking them.

That's a really helpful list of checkpoints, thanks for sharing them

All the best and keep APing ... just for the fun of it!

David

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11-29-2007 11:02 AM  9 years agoPost 3
BigguyOz

rrKey Veteran

Forster, New South Wales, Australia

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Well said Rhett! Your attitude is the right one, and I hope you make it back into the ranks - remember that you can always grab paying jobs from time to time without having to fully submerge yourself into the biz.

Have fun mate!

Tony Stott

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11-29-2007 01:19 PM  9 years agoPost 4
Art-Tistic

rrVeteran

Somerset, NJ

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Rhett,
Of all the posts that I have read over the years from you, this is hands down the most valuable one. This is a post that should be committed as SOP's for ANYONE wishing to do AP/V for profit!! I've always said that "tools are tools" and that's all they are! It's what the person does with them that makes the difference. Look a Trackhead for example, He's got a very simple, cost effective set up. It's not the prettiest bird on these forums, but he consistantly shows us amazingly beautiful, well compossed clips that any client would gladly pay for. Then we have our resident know-it-alls who constantly boast about how big there "junk" is, and "look how cool my amazing gear is".... Yet I personally have never seen a clip of theirs that I'd want to have pass through my studio.

Don't get me wrong, Image is important and your gear should represent you as a serious professional BUT, Tools are Tools.... Give someone a Ferrari, it sure as hell doesn't make them a race car driver!!!!

What you have elliquently phrased should be adopted as,
"The APer's Creed"!!

Maybe if Greg McNair ever does a 2nd edition of his book, he could include it as a preface.

Thanks again for taking the time to put this post together. Best of luck with your collegic endevor and have a wonderful holiday season!

Regards,
Anthony

Anthony J Francese
Owner/Executive Producer
Artistic Expressions Video Productions

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11-29-2007 02:43 PM  9 years agoPost 5
CoastalTom

rrVeteran

Foley, AL (7 miles N of Gulf Shores/Orange Beach)

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Very great points for ALL of us to remember. Your maturity is showing. I'm sure you will do well in whatever career you follow. Tony makes a good point. Glad you're not quitting AP altogether. Doing it occasionally, or as a hobbby as time/funds allow, is the fun part. Maybe you just need a break. I too find it challenging to balance time between multiple interests.

Good luck to ya Rhett!

Tommy Patterson - Gulf Coast Aerials

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11-29-2007 02:57 PM  9 years agoPost 6
daytonabeach

rrElite Veteran

Oslo, Norway

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True

Never argue with an idiot, he'll drag you down to his level and beat you with experience...

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11-29-2007 03:06 PM  9 years agoPost 7
FLAP

rrKey Veteran

Michigan

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very good advice. I agree with your safety advice and have always taken the same approach. With residential shots, I have occasionally had to fly in air space over neighbors houses. I always get their permission and offer to send them a shot of their house for free for their cooperation...never been turned down yet.
I have had the cops stop at four of my jobs and never been run off. I think it helps to be following rules of common sense regarding safety when they drop by.
I also agree with the stressing that customers care about your photos, not your gear. So much so that I had planned to redo my website and remove the 'my equipment' section. I've seen a number of sites that mention things like, "I've been at this hobby for two years and photography for 3 years..." Too much information that really isn't positive from a potential customer's perspective. I think it is enough to describe that the photos are taken by helicopter or an RC platform and mention the altitudes that you work at (hopefully 400 feet and below). Your site should look professional, as well as your gear, your appearence and your vehicle. Make your invoice and estmates look professional, and if you deliver media via CD, go out and buy an inexpensive color printer and print your logo, job name on it...don't write on it with a magic marker.

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11-29-2007 03:50 PM  9 years agoPost 8
Torsten

rrKey Veteran

Germany

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good points there Rhett.

i have found a few here that could look a points 5. 6. 7. a bit closer.

tough decision, but you´ll be back i´m sure

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11-29-2007 05:20 PM  9 years agoPost 9
c130pilot

rrApprentice

Windsor, CO

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Bravo!

Tim
.

Help! I'm umop apisdn

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11-29-2007 06:20 PM  9 years agoPost 10
kookboy

rrKey Veteran

Vancouver, BC

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Very good points Rhett.
Image is important and your gear should represent you as a serious professional BUT, Tools are Tools.... Give someone a Ferrari, it sure as hell doesn't make them a race car driver!!!!
Just over 3 years ago when I began AP with a heli, I thought I needed the best equipment to take the best photo's. Boy was I ever wrong and pigheaded.

It took me a good year of ground photog refresher courses and feedback from clients along the way to realize that I took the wrong approach to AP work.

At the time. my work revolved around my gear.

Now, my gear is a tool/aid that revolves around my work.

It's nice to read a post like yours.

Good luck with your future edu.

Jesse

... But honey it was only $$$

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11-29-2007 06:54 PM  9 years agoPost 11
rroback

rrElite Veteran

Irvine (UCI), Ca

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Thank you for all the great comments, but I'll still be hanging around here guys I've finally got my class list.. and it's 22 units of class ( where the norm/min is 12..). My goal is to become a physician, so life right now has to be about the grades. Kookboy, I think so many on this forum began as you did, and many have made the change, and realized the clients don't care about equipment, but I'd like to help those couple apers who have no made the jump. I'd like to throw another couple points in, the first is one often torsten writes. I'm editing my original post..

Rhett..... I can't fly, but the Profi sure can.

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11-29-2007 07:30 PM  9 years agoPost 12
efliernz

rrVeteran

Hamilton, New Zealand

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We started 4 months ago with a home-made mount under the Trex600. Wrote the health 'n safety book, got insurance and landed the local city council for our first customer.
We are part time so the risk has been small. We now have two helis and a new 360deg mount this week to help us get what the customer wants easier and safer. I have seen someone spend major $$$ on kit to start up but it isn't necassary.

We were asked why we haven't approached everyone and gone for immediate world domination... we want to get the first customer happy, learn what they want (because it will be similar to what others want). This is the advantage of being part time. We can take our time and get it right. Now the customer list is growing.
I still fly for fun... and my wife happily grabs the camera radio to help if I suddenly see a cloud formation I want to shoot from 200 feet...

Good luck Rhett

Pete, Trex500, Trex600E, Streched 600, DSX9, DX7, Low-volt alarms - check the gallery for my alarms

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11-29-2007 08:35 PM  9 years agoPost 13
GauchoVolador

rrVeteran

Tx

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Hey Rhett,
We all want you will be around here often, do not let your busy agenda stops you from visiting the forum and bringing your valuable insights and expertise.
I personally thank you for your constant and kind support.

MUCHA SUERTE AMIGO!

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11-29-2007 09:09 PM  9 years agoPost 14
GMcNair

rrKey Veteran

Birmingham AL

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You're very wise at 21 Rhett. Godspeed in your progress towards becoming a physician.

-Greg

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11-29-2007 09:36 PM  9 years agoPost 15
Ace Dude

rrProfessor

USA

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Well done! Good luck with your studies and career goals!

  

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11-29-2007 09:40 PM  9 years agoPost 16
filmflyer

rrApprentice

USA

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Very good points Rhett, I wish you luck with your school and hope you continue to fly for fun. It's interesting how ones perspective on flying changes once they put some very expensive equipment in the air and everything weighs more and acts alot different than there sport heli does. Glad to see you put safety up there in your list.

Troy

Bergen R/C Helicopters, Duralite Batteries, V-Blades

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11-29-2007 09:45 PM  9 years agoPost 17
Hogster

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Surrey, UK

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A word of caution on point #21 .... some people might consider this invasion of privacy ... and that can end up in being sued (or so I've heard).

My 2p,

David

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11-29-2007 11:29 PM  9 years agoPost 18
filmflyer

rrApprentice

USA

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Just FYI Hogster
It would never hold up in court. One would have to create an expectation of privacy first for it to be violated. Such as building a canopy over your entire property so it could not be seen from the air, either by rc heli or by google earth satalite.

Bergen R/C Helicopters, Duralite Batteries, V-Blades

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11-29-2007 11:35 PM  9 years agoPost 19
Hogster

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Surrey, UK

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Ah ok Twas just something I had heard

Nevertheless, I'm not sure how wise it is giving people photos of themselves when they were unaware they were being photographed ... but then that's how cold-calling APers make their money I guess ...

Well, anyway, don't let me hijack your thread any further Rhett

All the best,

David

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