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How much does Drone Photography Cost?

Average Price
$70 - $250 per hour

What is the price of Drone hire?

Want to capture amazing images from up high? Read our handy guide to find out how much drone operators will charge for their services.

What is Aerial & Drone Photography?

Back in the day, images or videos that showed a bird’s eye view of a location were probably captured from a helicopter. Though this would cost thousands, and be reserved for only the biggest Hollywood budgets. These days, anyone can reproduce such shots when they hire a professional drone operator. 

Drones can capture images for a whole range of purposes. This includes advertising, weddings, film/TV, journalism, real estate listings, construction, engineering, agricultural surveys, events, and more. It can take the form of a static image, a video, or a combination of both. 

Professional drone pilots have not only the expertise required, but the right licenses and insurance to operate a drone. For some drone operators, this includes flying at extreme heights, at night, and even over high-risk areas of the US. All of which is only available with the right certification and training, before you even consider the quality of the shot. Therefore, professional drone operators are in high demand.

How much does Drone Photography cost? 

Drone photography costs between $70 and $250 per hour on average. As you may have noticed, the price can vary dramatically. That’s because it depends on what the drone photography is for. 

For example, there’s a huge difference between someone wanting to inspect their roof, versus shooting for a Hollywood movie.

Average cost of Drone Photography
Average cost (per hour) $100
Minimum cost (per hour)$70
Maximum cost (per hour) $250

Your drone pilot may charge by the hour, but most commonly they will give you a fixed fee. The total fee will take into account the time needed, the drone model you select, and also any post-production that’s required. 

What changes the price of Drone photography? 

The cost of hiring a drone varies depending on several factors, including: 

  • Job type

  • Drone model

  • Permission level

  • Personnel required

  • Image quality

  • Post-processing

  • Time

  • Experience

  • Location

Job type

No two drone or aerial photography jobs are the same! Each requires different skills, equipment and not to mention time to complete. Therefore, it’s important you get an individual quote. 

For basic jobs, expect to pay anywhere between $200 and $1,300. Such jobs may only take a couple of hours of work, and usually only require 1 pilot. 

Moving into the more specialist drone work can set you back anywhere between $2,100 and $5,400. Such work includes any job which takes a significant amount of time, experience, or personnel to complete. Specialist jobs will also use more expensive drone models. 

Aerial photography involves sending an aircraft (manned or battery operated) to capture images. This service starts at $1,050, though can run into several thousands, especially for TV work or similar larger projects.

Average cost of Drone Photography based on the type of job
Type of drone jobHighest average priceLowest average price
Drone hire (standard)$1,300$200
Drone hire (specialist)$5,400$2,100
Blimp with drone $1,225$600
Aerial photography$2,700$1,050

Drone model

Your drone pilot will have to spend anywhere between $1,700 for a DJI Mavic model, up to $250,000 for a Hybrid VTOL fixed-wing aircraft to purchase. Therefore, the cost to hire one as a customer will vary depending on which model you opt for. 

Considering the hire prices of the most common drones, you can expect to pay $665 for a Mavic Pro, up to $3,400 for a Matrix 600. There are hundreds of different drone models in total, making it a very flexible service whether you are conducting a 2D land survey or shooting a movie for cinema release.

Average cost of Drone Photography based on the drone model -
Drone modelAverage rental cost
Mavic Pro$665
Phantom 4$800
Inspire 1 Pro$880
Matrix 600$3,400

Permission level

The Federal Aviation Administration has different rules in place for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Users need to gain permission at a cost, depending on the purpose of their drone activity. Therefore, the different costs associated will affect the price of hiring a drone pilot, especially for any high-risk jobs such as flying over major cities.

Personnel required 

It might seem as if the technology does all the work, but this isn’t the case with operating a drone. 

Some drone operators work solo, and others require several pilots, runners, monitor operators, etc. The more complex your job, the more expensive it will be.

Image quality

The image quality you require is going to depend on the purpose. For example, common image quality levels vary between SD, HD, 4K, 6K, and 8K. 

The higher the image quality you need, the more the project will cost, owing to the shooting capabilities of each particular drone model. Keep in mind that not all devices have the ability to stream 8K quality (or above), so speak to your drone operator for further advice. 

Post-processing

An optional extra is to have your footage or images processed to give them a professional finish. Post-processing can include video stitching, color grading, voiceovers, adding music, or other cool special effects. 

Video editors may charge anywhere from $150 to $450 per minute of finished footage for their services. Images will usually be far cheaper to edit than video.

Time

Drone pilots typically charge by the hour, half-day, or full-day. 

Some drone shots can be captured in a matter of minutes, others will take all day if not a few days to complete. The time also factors in the travel time for your operators, especially if you are hiring contractors from outside of your local area. 

Experience

Drone operators vary in experience, which may impact how much they charge for their services. 

As an example, anyone can train to operate a drone, but specialists such as surveyors or accident investigators can also operate a drone. If carrying out a specialist survey by a professional in that industry, expect the drone service to cost more. 

Location

The cost of hiring a drone may also depend on where you live. The cheapest area to hire a drone in the US is in states such as Wisconsin, averaging at $465.

Typically, California drone hire costs $750 per project, reducing slightly to $680 for New York. Remember, any major metropolitan area will be more expensive. This is not just due to increased living costs, but because of the permissions required from the government to fly in such areas.

Average cost of Drone Photography based on the location
LocationAverage drone hire cost
California$750
Texas$600
New York$680
Wisconsin$465
Colorado$500

Is it worth getting Drone photography?

Drones can be where you need them to be in just a few seconds, all without having to scale great heights yourself. The images or video captured will look absolutely stunning, especially when used for promotional purposes. So, drone photography is worth the investment, especially when you hire a licensed drone pilot who will give the best possible results. 

Find the best professional for the job on Bark today. 

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