online drone photo courses

The best online drone photo courses for 2021

Attention perfectionists, challenge-seekers, lifelong learners: here are the best online drone photo courses for 2021.

Maybe you got a drone in the midst of coronavirus as the perfect social distancing activity. It’s been a few months (or perhaps over a year now) and you want to know how to take better photos. Perhaps you’ve had a drone for years, but with life still not completely back to normal, you now you have more free time at home to acquire a new skill (and of course, drone photography is a great one!). Or maybe you’ve built up your small business and want to know how to set your drone skills apart from everyone else by not just taking better photos, but knowing how to edit and sell them to maximize your money.

There are oodles of reasons to improve your aerial photography skills, and one of the best ways to do it right now is through an online drone photo course.

Here are Drone Girl’s top online drone photo courses of 2021:

The best drone photo course for the price: Aerial Photo Pro from Drone Launch Academy

Drone Launch Academy is already one of our favorite picks in our guide to the best Part 107 online courses of 2021, and their photo course is a winner too.

Drone Launch Academy is the leader in online drone courses, offering a range of courses for all types of drone businesses (or drone hobbyists just looking to learn something new and boost their skills!), with online courses in topics like drones 101, roofing inspection courses and more. And they offer a photography course called Aerial Photo Pro.

The Drone Launch Academy Aerial Photo Pro course covers topics including:

  • Framing photos
  • Photo editing (ie. editing objects out of photos, such as how to digitally remove a car from a parking lot)
  • Lighting (including taking photos in low-light)
  • Industry specific best practices (ie. what agents real estate photographers should focus on)
  • Types of photos and modes, including how to shoot panoramic photos with your drone
  • Accessories, such as which filters are worth it and whether or not you need a polarizer
  • Prepping for shoots, including how to research a location ahead of time

Here are just a few examples from Harris’s course showing the before and after of photos once they’ve gone through his editing process.

This example brings out more dynamic and interesting colors in low-light:

Aerial Photo Pro night city

…and this example makes the scene much more vibrant through toggling with exposure, highlights and saturation in a way that makes the photo more colorful without looking fake or over-edited:

Aerial Photo Pro editing photoshop Neuschwanstein castle best online drone photo courses of 2020

What’s more: Drone Launch Academy is more than just a course — it’s a community. They have a newsletter, and other web extras, like the Drones to $100k podcast (we all want to make $100k off our drones!).

  • Price: $199 (or use my personal link with a $50 coupon code automatically applied to bring your price down to just $149)
  • How long do you have access to the course before your membership expires? Unlimited lifetime access
  • What software is used in the course? Adobe Lightroom (you can get a free trial or purchase a monthly subscription for $10)
  • Who teaches Aerial Photo Pro? Drone Launch Academy’s online photo course is taught by Alex Harris, an award-winning photographer who has done work for HGTV and ESPN, and has even photographed live performances of artists like Pitbull and Benny Bennasi.
John Peltier Forester Pass Descent Sequoia Ntional Park best online drone photo courses of 2020

For travel photographers (or photographers looking to improve storytelling skills, no matter the destination): John Peltier’s “From Tourist to Travel Photographer” online course

John Peltier is known for his FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Test Prep Course (after all, he’s one of the most qualified instructors out there as a former Air Fore pilot and instructor). But he’s also a brilliant photographer, so it’s fortuitous that his two passions of piloting and photography can collide via drones.

John Peltier offers an online course called “From Tourist to Travel Photographer” that covers everything from project planning to composition to storytelling. It’s not necessarily tied to drones — you can go through his course with aerial photos, traditional dSLR photos, or even iPhone photos on your mind.

But that’s why I love this course so much. The best aerial photos aren’t necessarily any different than traditional photos from the ground. All great photos need to tell a story, be thought-provoking in some way and still have some aesthetic value. His course covers that. For many drone photographers looking to improve their photography skills, going for a traditional photography course may be the way to go. Peltier has done all sorts of unconventional photography, including underwater photography.

John Peltier’s “From Tourist to Travel Photographer” online course covers topics including:

  • A basic technical understanding of aspects such as aperture, ISO, shutter and focus
  • Artistic techniques, such as geometry and composition, light, and when to use color vs. black and white
  • What to do when you don’t have enough natural light
  • Ethics in photography

The course includes more than 30 videos, 11 quizzes, and even 10 assignments to apply what you’ve learned. Of course, given his extensive experience in drones, it’s a perfect fit for drone photographers, though all photographers can certainly benefit.

You’ll also have access to a Live Chat feature with Peltier himself (yep, not a random customer support person or a robot), allowing you to pick Peltier’s brain directly without needing to send an email. The only caveat? Since it’s just Peltier (and he needs to sleep, right?) don’t expect answers 24/7 — though expect it to be, say, 16/7.

  • Price: $119
  • How long do you have access to the course before your membership expires? Unlimited lifetime access
  • Who teaches “From Tourist to Travel Photographer? The course is taught by John Peltier is a former Air Force pilot and instructor who even served as the “Chief of Courseware” during his last assignment in the Air Force (he wrote all educational material for F-15E training squadrons throughout the USAF). And his other job? Photographer. After leaving the Air Force, he has been a professional photographer for 10 years and has been published in the Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, New York Magazine and more.

While there are no discounts available for John Peltier’s “From Tourist to Travel Photographer” online course, if you’re interested in Peltier’s drone Part 107 Initial Test Prep Course, use promo code DRONEG20 to save $20, or use this link upon which the promo code will automatically apply).

Aerial Video A to Z Alex Harris Drone Launch Academy The best online drone photo video of 2020

The best drone course for video: Aerial Video A to Z

If you have a drone, odds are you’re taking videos, and not just photos. Drones are such a special piece of equipment because not only do they provide a unique visual angle, but they produce a totally unique effect by being effectively a Steadicam in the air. That silky-smooth flight through the air — over trees, under bridges, following snowboarders — is an effect you’d be hard-pressed to create through any tool besides a drone.

So while photos certainly have a time and a place (you can quickly scroll through photos, while watching videos takes more commitment; and editing/uploading photos tends to be a simpler endeavor than the same for videos), much of the power of drones lies with their video shooting capabilities.

Enter: Aerial Video A to Z. If it looks familiar, that’s because Aerial Video A to Z was created by Alex Harris, the same guy who created our top aerial photo course pick, and likewise, it’s also hosted by Drone Launch Academy.

The Drone Launch Academy Aerial Video A to Z course covers topics including:

  • Equipment you do (and perhaps more importantly, don’t) need
  • Flying, filming, and cinematography techniques, including correctly shooting slow motion
  • Tips speeding up the editing process and workarounds for dealing with (notoriously hefty) 4k footage
  • Salvaging footage you thought unusable, such as being too shaky, bright (overexposed) or dark (underexposed)
  • Turning flat and bland footage to video that pops with the perfect color balance

The $397 price tag is heftier than what you’ll find with the photo courses in this guide, but that’s to be expected given the beast that video editing can be. Included in the price is lifetime access to their 5+ hours of video instruction, use of the course’s 71 clips of 4k stock drone footage (by the way, 4K stock drone footage can otherwise easily cost $100+ per clip), plus unlimited email support with Alex and the rest of the Drone Launch Academy team.

What’s more: upon signing up, you’ll be able to join a private Facebook Group where you’ll find discussion on gear, making money and booking jobs, be able to share your work and get critiques, and post questions (and get near-instant answers).

  • Price: $397 (or use my personal link with an off $100 coupon code automatically applied to bring your price down to just $297)
  • How long do you have access to the course before your membership expires? Unlimited lifetime access
  • What software is used in the course? Adobe Premiere Pro (you can purchase a monthly subscription for $20)
  • Who teaches Aerial Photo Pro? Drone Launch Academy’s online video course is taught by Alex Harris, who as edited everything from animated features to broadcast television to commercials, including work for HGTV, Nike, Intel, ESPN, and Discovery Health.
Aerial bridge best online drone photos courses of 2020

Other ways to boost your aerial photography or videography skills

Now is a great time to take an online course. You probably have more time on your hands than usual, and the drone industry is set for growth – which means as lockdowns calm down, there could be massive opportunity to pick up new jobs as a drone photographer or videographer.

And while I’ve outlined the best online drone photo courses of 2020 here, an online course isn’t the only way to get better. Here are some other ways to become a better drone photographer or videographer:

From Where I Drone Dirk Dallas drone coffee table book photography sally french

Browse drone photo books

I love “Eyes over the World: The Most Spectacular Drone Photography,” created by Dirk Dallas, who perhaps most famously runs the Instagram account “From Where I Drone.” It’s a beautiful book, and there’s something easily inspirational and motivating about thumbing through it as it sits on your coffee table.

Enter a drone art contest (or just browse the winners)

One of the best ways to get better is to hang with people who are better. An easy way to find the best of the best when it comes to drone visuals: enter a drone art contest. I’ve outlined some of the more popular drone photo or video contests here. Even if you don’t enter, look through who has won in past years. Do their images have something in common? What do the winning images do that yours don’t? Use it as a learning opportunity, and some free motivation.

What do you think are the best online drone photo courses, or other great ways to improve as a drone artist? Leave a comment below!

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