Pake Salmon owns a Hawaii destination wedding company, but her hobby is drones. Based out of Makahu, Oahu, a well-known surfing hot spot, Salmon has found a niche photographing surfers with a drone. Here’s how she creates her stunning shots”
DG: How has the mainstream arrival of drones changed surf photography?
PS: Helicopters would come in for big waves. Now you can just send drones in and take care of that shot.
You can definitely get a closer perspective to the surfer. It’s these nice tracking shots you can get doing surfing. You can get a lot more creative with the people. You can stay low to the water and track them as they catch the wave.
DG: What do you fly?
PS: I started with the Phantom Vision 2. It didn’t come out of the box ready to fly the way drones do now, and I lost it in the ocean last year. That prompted me to get the Phantom 3 Professional.
DG: You lost it in the ocean?
PS: Of course I was flying, feeling like nothing can go wrong for me. After all, it’s God’s perspective on us. I was standing on a bridge and I just saw it go down just 25-30 yards off shore. It was probably one of the worst things that could happen –other than if I knew this was going to come down on someone. I just had to watch my baby go under the water. It totally stopped me from wanting to take the new Phantom 3 out into the ocean.
DG: You coordinate wedding professionally. What are your thoughts on wedding drone photography?
PS: The drone is loud. The wedding clients can get disturbed by the sound and it shouldn’t be that low to guests. But they do produce wonderful aerial images, so I recommend you stage something depending on what they want.
DG: How do you handle photographing surfing or other watersports?
PS: I shot canoe surfing. It’s nerve-wracking knowing everyone is going to be there. But nerves can be a good thing: it’s better to be safe than sorry, and it’s important to plan. When I shoot on the water, I let the organizers know I have a drone.
DG: What advice do you have for other drone photographers?
PS: I think a lot of people think they can get a drone and take nice pictures because it’s a perspective people haven’t seen too much. Eventually that market will be saturated and it will be important to compose your shots. I am working on it myself too.