Friday, September 15, 2017

Claremore, Oklahoma: Drone photography business is flying high

While no one could accuse Claremore resident Levi Green of putting on airs, when it comes to his photography business, he very much puts on airs — 400 feet worth of air, to be exact.

As owner and pilot for his locally-owned aerial photography business, IFly 107 Drone Photography, Green’s drones take pictures of client’s properties, businesses and more from a perspective hundreds of feet up in the air.

“Photos are a reflection of people’s experiences — what drives them, where they’ve been, where they’re going, who they love,” Green said. “My company, IFly 107, is a commercial drone photography company, which takes aerial shots for homeowners, companies, real estate agents, events, and more.”

Green first got into drone photography roughly three years ago, when was working in land development.

“Starting out, I used to do the (drone) photography on our projects — a real estate agent would ask me if I could fly (a drone) over their house or property,” he said. “Eventually, I got to thinking ‘Hey, I should be getting paid for this,’ and the business kind of got going from there.”

But starting and operating one’s own drone photography business wasn’t as simple as buying a drone and sending it up.

“I took an unmanned aircraft course and was tested to fly (the drone) as a commercial (drone) pilot,” he said. “Just owning a drone and flying it as a hobbyist doesn’t require a license, but if you’re going to use it professionally, you’re required to be licensed, to have liability insurance, etc. It’s very involved.”

Once licensed, Green added two more drones to his fleet.

“Basically, the three drones I own are about the same, but each is slightly different so as to be better suited for different kinds of jobs,” he said. “I use the most up to date DJI Phantom 4 Pro Drones, which has a 20MP camera to capture 4K 60 fps video, with a 30-minute maximum fight time, and maximum control range of 4.3 miles.”

Due to FAA regulations, commercial drone pilots such as Green are only allowed to fly the drones up to 400 feet without wavers.

“A while back, I did a project for downtown Tulsa, flying over several tall buildings, for which I had to get wavers to fly (the drone) higher — they can fly up to 2,000 feet, but you’re not allowed to do this without special permission (from the FAA),” he said. “Typically, though, up to 400 feet is more than high enough for most jobs.”

Currently, most of the jobs for which Green — and his drones — are hired are still tied to real estate, but they’re fast expanding into other areas, he said.

“Drone photography is very, very popular right now,” he said. “I’m still getting my highest volume of jobs from the area of real estate — I’ll fly over a property with a drone, shoot video — it’s like a virtual reality tour of a place, but we’re getting other jobs as well,” he said. “When Chick-fil-A opened (in Claremore), I flew a drone over the restaurant the night of the grand opening to have pictures and images as an idea for a marketing video. Sometimes I’ll fly (the drone) over an event or property to have an image to use later to show people or businesses the kind of pictures — which are taken with a special 4K camera, so the images are super clear — we can provide.

“Almost always, when people see the pictures the drone takes, they’re impressed — because of the camera, the clarity of the photos is so much higher than what others (photographs) are,” he said, “and even from 400 feet up, we can zoom in on a place or a person — the images are so clear you can almost see a person’s face perfectly. It’s really something.”

As to the future of his business, Green is optimistic.

“Drone photography is a niche market, and one that’s growing — you’re probably going to only see more and more people using drones for aerial photos or videos,” he said. “I’ve got a job this week in Pryor — one of my drones will be flying over some of the new buildings at NTC, and, depending on the memory card and battery, I can shoot up to 30 minutes of video, which is usually more than long enough for most people’s needs, not to mention the number of photos I can take in that time.

“Also, we take pictures for clients of their farms and homes so they can print them,” he said. “We have had clients say they’ve have never their my property from the air and this is a neat way to show someone where you live or to show off the farm.”

For more information about drone photography or to inquire about hiring Green on a project, contact him at e-mail

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