Generally speaking, I always thought of selfies as being harmless fun. However, the idea of people becoming obsessed with the manufacturing of their own self-portraits came across as somewhat narcissistic. Because of that I always steered away from taking pictures of myself, and never in a million years would I have imagined writing a feature on taking selfies—yet alone this one. So if you’re wondering what inspired this article, it emerged from a moment I flicked through a web link featuring some of the world’s most powerful drone pictures. There were a couple of images exhibited there that lured me into exploring this avenue. A common theme among these images was that they were not just top-down aerial pictures taken with a drone; they managed to incorporate the photographer into the picture as well.
After looking at these images a little more closely, I found that the key element to achieving this dynamic was in the way the photographers had crafted themselves into the frame. This provided the image with an immense sense of intrigue as well.
I finally decided to take my DJI Mavic Pro out to a few locations that I thought would have great potential for taking drone selfies. All shots on display here were taken with the Mavic in auto mode. It was also fitted with a PolarPro Circular Polarizing Filter to help reduce any harsh reflections and highlights.
Benefits of Including Yourself
When it comes to composition, including yourself won’t just assist in providing the viewer with a sense of scale and dimension. It will also build more points of interest and add substance to images that are typically only composed of sparse geometric masses. Another benefit is that it could act as a primary focal point or allow you to tell a story using an image.
Top Five Selfie Drone Tips
• Scout your location. Use maps to scout your location before hiking out.
• Look for contrasting colors and textures. Combine interesting colors and textures in the landscape to create interest.
• Seek out focal points. Look for spots in the landscape where you can position yourself and other people.
• Start low. Keep the drone flying low and gradually elevate its height.
• Take shots at multiple heights. Capture numerous photos, and pick the best later.
When and How to Include Yourself
Given the fact that most of top-down aerial photos are abstract in nature to begin with, it makes perfect sense to add in a focal point as well. Remember that you don’t just need the one focal point. If you decide to shoot in a similar style to what I have, try to strategically seek out more focal points where people could be incorporated.
Seeking a place to locate yourself within a composition is quite simple; you only need to find that primary focal point in which to add yourself. Once you’ve found that, think about how you would like position yourself (whether to sit, stand, or lie down, for example). Lying on the ground gives the viewer an unusual perspective that dramatically adds to the subject’s sense of scale.
Start flying the drone at the lowest level and then slowly move upward. Always check your image display, and carefully observe how increasing the height affects your composition.
Don’t become obsessed with getting too much elevation as this can somewhat diminish the selfie-style image you are trying to create. Just to be safe, I usually shoot at three different heights and then choose the most suitable composition when I am editing my RAW files into JPEGs