Gail Orenstein drone journalism journalist photojournalist mavic pro dji

Conflict zone photojournalist Gail Orenstein talks drones with Bill The Drone Reviewer

In most editions of my Drone Girl profiles, I do the interviews with interesting women from the drone industry. But drone YouTuber Bill The Drone Reviewer interviewed a fantastically interesting droner — Gail Orenstein — that I had to share it, particularly given her industry, journalism (which I know many Drone Girl readers are interested in).

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Gail Orenstein has been a photographer for 23 years, but she got into drones about three years ago. One of the first times she used a drone for journalism was in Kurdistan, Iraq during the Mosul offensive in Iraq 2017. Since then, she has photographed and droned in many conflict zones often the only female photographer in the field at the time. Her drone footage and photography work has been distributed world wide including CBS news, Der Stern, Aljazeera, Rudaw, The Guardian, The Chicago Tribune, The Times, Slate, Mashable, Washington Post, TIME, The BBC, The Telegraph, Kurdish TV24,  Microsoft and many more.

Gail Orenstein
Gail Orenstein

Drones aside, her photojournalism work included documenting prisoners in Guatemala in 1982, working for The Hillary Rodham Clinton Foundation and The Christian Children’s fund in Haiti documenting the AIDS outbreak, and working with the Eastern Europe European  Outreach in Ukraine and Russia where she documented the lives of Russian prisoners.

Her interview with Bill The Drone Reviewer (though it starts off a little rocky with some technical challenges), is filled with stories and unique perspectives from her wealth of experience.

She talks about “drone lawlessness”: people flying over Nepal after the earthquake and flying over UNESCO sites, causing a strong reaction against Westerners coming in with drones. She talks about keeping international drone rules straight — since they are so varied by country. And while she flies drones that are easy for beginners to fly in automatic mode, including the DJI Phantom 4 Pro and DJI Mavic Pro, she makes a case for why you need to be a better pilot than just relying on flying in automatic mode.

The interview is pretty long (about an hour in total!) — I recommend starting around the 6:30 mark where she starts with her perspective on the Nepal earthquake and how it was handled in the drone community, if you’re on a time crunch.

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