The best online drone photo courses for 2024

Attention perfectionists, challenge-seekers, and lifelong learners: here are the best online drone photo courses for 2024.

Maybe you got a drone a few years ago and you’ve been tinkering on your own — and you want to know how to take better photos from the pros now.

Perhaps you’ve had a drone for years, but with perhaps a work-from-home gig, you now have more free time 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 2024, along with other ways to learn drone photography.

The best for 1:1 attention: Drone Adventurer Masterclass+

Drone Adventurer Masterclass is taught by Belgium-based aerial photographer Johan Vandenhecke, who works as a freelance brand and business aerial photographer. He seized the opportunity during the pandemic to launch an online drone course, Drone Adventurer Masterclass, to share his knowledge with others.

This is a start-to-finish guide on using drones to take photos and cinematic videos — and how to make money while doing it. The course is broken down into three modules: photography, Lightroom, and partnerships (aka making money)

Photography: You’ll get an overview of the drone and how to best use it for photography, through preparation, lighting, composition, storytelling, and more. You’ll learn about gear, whether it’s the drone or add-ons like ND filters.

The Lightroom module of the Drone Adventurer Masterclass course.

Lightroom: Rather than pay extra for Lightroom training, as many do, it’s included in this course. You’ll learn the ins and outs of this professional video editing software (and there’s even a bonus course on Premiere Pro video editing).

Partnerships: Here’s where the course pays for itself — you’ll learn how to make money. Johan covers how to work with brands, and how to negotiate, and gives away valuable resources like email templates to make business contacts.

The course is €299 (which is about $300) and includes 1-year access to the Masterclass (which is all 3 modules + 9 expert interviews). Plus, you’ll have access to the Drone Adventurer Masterclass private Facebook group.

But there’s an upgraded option that’s even better. For €439 (about $440), you can get not just the class, but also three, one-on-one coaching sessions with Johan. The sessions last 30 minutes and are conducted through Zoom, Skype or Facebook Messenger. It’s brilliant that you get three, which allows Johan to get to know you, help you plan out a shoot, and then give you feedback on that same shoot.

Individual, personalized advice can feel hard to come by in the era of mass, online courses — so this upgraded package with the Drone Adventurer Masterclass is a swell deal. It’s also the primary reason I chose this as my top-recommended drone photo course. Anyone can stare at an online video and learn stuff, but with something creative like photography, personalized attention is key.

Plus, use this link with promo code SALLY50 to save $50 off the base-level Masterclass course. Or use this link with promo code SALLY50PLUS to save $50 on the version with the virtual coaching sessions.

For specific training on light and color techniqueJohn Peltier’s “Basics of Light, Composition, and Color” 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 Force 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 “Basics of Light, Composition, and Color” how to see light, what makes a good composition, and how to work with color and black & white photography. 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 “Basics of Light, Composition, and Color” online course covers topics including:

  • How to think of light, direction and quality
  • Why you should think about where light isn’t, a la shadows
  • When color and black & white treatments better suit a photo
  • How to think in color schemes vs black & white tones

The course includes 10 videos, 3 assignments and quizzes, plus downloadable reference material. Of course, given his extensive experience in drones, it’s a perfect fit for drone photographers, though all photographers can certainly benefit.

This course is only $59, and that’s a big reason why I love it. It’s shorter, but also only delivers the info you need at a super accessible price point.

Some of the other courses in this guide are incredibly comprehensive in that they drill into not just photography, but even setting up your drone and flying it. Those courses are far longer and often cost many hundreds of dollars. That’s fine if you’re truly new to drones. But if you’ve already mastered the drone and now just need to level up your photography skills, don’t pay for a class that covers more than what you need.

Not only are Peltier’s courses run through an online website that you’d access via your desktop or laptop, but there is also a version run through a mobile app for both iOS and Android.

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.

But Peltier is super engaged, and while you don’t get the formal 1:1 sessions of Drone Adventurer Masterclass, you may find you get just as much value of getting to speak with Peltier — at a fraction of the price.

  • Price: $59
  • How long do you have access to the course before your membership expires? Unlimited lifetime access
  • Who teaches “Basics of Light, Composition, and Color? 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 “Basics of Light, Composition, and Color” online course, if you’re interested in Peltier’s drone Part 107 Initial Test Prep Course, use promo code DRONEG20 to save $20.

The best drone photo course to learn post-processing and editing: 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 2023, and their photo course is a winner too — particularly if your focus areas are post-processing and editing.

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

But the largest chunk of the course is devoted to learning editing software (the course centers around Adobe’s Lightroom software). If you aren’t interested in editing, or Adobe Lightroom in particular (after all, Lightroom demands an annual subscription that’s more than $100 on its own), then skip this course.

However, if you are interested in editing, this is the course for you. 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:

…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:

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!).

You won’t get the level of personal instructor attention as you will with my top pick, the Drone Adventurer Masterclass. But given the lower price and the fact that there’s still a community of other folks who can give you feedback on your work, this is still a worthy contender.

  • Price: $199
  • 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.

The best drone course specific to 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 an 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
  • 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.

The best if you want to learn quickly (just 85 minutes): DARTdrones Aerial Photography and Videography Online Course

The DARTdrones Aerial Photography and Videography Online Course provides a solid overview of everything a visual artist would want to know (aerial photography and videography camera settings, the types of flight paths to make, and editing software) in a very short period of time. The course is just 85 minutes of video, which you’ll get for an affordable price of just $150.

The class is taught by a power duo: Pulitzer Prize photojournalist Kevin Coughlin who brings the visual expertise, alongside commercial airline pilot and drone business owner Jerry White.

The self-paced class is all straight and to-the-point. The video time is just 85 minutes, making it completely manageable. But for ongoing training, you’ll also unlock 4 comprehensive e-learning modules and a downloadable aerial imaging reference guide.

If the name DARTdrones sounds familiar, it might be because you’ve seen the company’s CEO, Abby Speicher, pitching her company on Shark Tank. There, Mark Cuban invested $300,000 in exchange for 10% of her company.

DARTdrones offers a range of other courses besides just its photo course, and some are in-person or held live online. Its online Part 107 test prep course is among its most popular, and it also has workshops honing in on specific industries such as mapping and modeling, disaster response and inspections.

Other ways to learn drone photography for free or cheap

Now is a great time to take an online course. The drone industry is set for growth and 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 2024 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:

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.

Scroll through Instagram

Here’s a way to get inspiration that’s free — browsing Instagram. Here’s my guide to my favorite wildlife photographers on Instagram, and a list of some incredible female photographers on Instagram.

The grand prize SkyPixel winner in 2023: “Floral Dress” by Khánh Phan.

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.

One of the largest, best drone photo contests is SkyPixel, which is an online photo community affiliated with DJI. Check out the 2023 SkyPixel winners.

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!

Leave a ReplyCancel reply