UAV Aerial Photo/Video Tips: Plan before you fly

shotlistTo maximize the time in the air and your battery supply, plan out as many of the shots on the ground with the client/director before taking off, preferably before the day of the actual shoot. Having a clear plan of attack will make for a smoother and safer flight.

This includes walking the flight path, you want to make sure there isn’t any objects in the way that you cannot see from the takeoff zone that could cause issues, such as power lines, tree branches, and so on.

For longer flight paths it is a good idea to have a spotter at the other end to help indicate when you reach the needed spot and watch for any potential dangers.

Create a printed shot list including takeoff/landing zones, direction of flight, direction of camera, and any other shot specific parameters you will be dealing with.

Using an image of the location from Google Maps or similar and overlaying your shots and flight paths makes for a quick and simple means to document the shoot in a visual manner.

Be sure to take into account the direction of the sun and sunrise/sunset times to get the best use of the available daylight for each specific angle and area.

The shot list will also act as a quick checklist to ensure you get all of the shots requested, simply check off each once you have it captured.


  1. Further to the shoot planning, whenever possible do a site scout before the day of the shoot, and ideally before committing to anything with the client. It could easily turn out the location is unflyable, or limiting in what can be safely shot. Better to know this up front than the day of the shoot when other people are on hand and waiting.


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