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Capturing the Moment with Drones & SkyMasters Photography

Photo by Jordan Jenner
Photo by Jordan Jenner

Photography drones are being used today for everything from crop management to getting those impossible, yet fantastic shots of the perfect wedding. It’s a potentially profitable new business, perched on the edge of revolutionizing the way both amateurs and professionals take pictures.

Of course, it’s not all blue skies and cotton candy clouds; the FAA hasn’t quite figured out how to regulate these unmanned entities yet, but definitely have some guidelines that people both agree and disagree with. For now, drones are treated like remote-controlled planes flown by connoisseurs for amusement: they can’t fly over 400 feet, must remain in the line of sight of the person operating them and are prohibited in heavily populated areas, near airports or at night.

Jenner Jordan
Jenner Jordan

Jenner Jordan has owned and operated SkyMasters Photography in Oxford, Miss. for eight months, and while that may seem like a short amount of time, he has managed to acquire many clients and business is very good.

“I do this for businesses, companies and individuals,” he said. “I also have insurance, which is required, and so I’m able to do any job out there that someone needs.”

Jordan said he got into aerial and drone photography due to his love for the art in general.

“Photography has always been a hobby of mine,” he said. “And I totally love technology. I was in the IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications) program at Ole Miss and learned about marketing, business, advertising and how to communicate with people. I was a photojournalist for a while for Dr. Ed Meek at Hotty Toddy News. And I really enjoyed the photography part of the job.”

Jordan said it was at Christmastime a few years back when his dad gave him his first drone.

“And I absolutely loved it,” he said. “I flew it all the time. One day the thought came to me that if I could get a photo, from up in the air, using the drone, I bet I could get some really great shots. So I put a camera on a drone and from that moment on, my new career pretty much just took off.”

And take off it did. The 22-year-old Jordan started garnering quite a bit of attention with his videos of local events and venues.

“I filmed some Ole Miss Baseball games, the Sigma Nu Woodstock party and many other things around Oxford,” Jordan said. “And all of my videos went viral. I think I had around 300 inquiries the first two weeks after the videos were released. Since then I‘ve been doing jobs left and right, working for certain businesses and companies or individuals. I also work with many applications: agricultural applications, oil and gas, real estate, surveys, special events, such as weddings – really, you name it and I can film it.”

Jordan said that in the summer he did an internship in Columbus, Ohio at the Landman and saw the opportunity to bring along his drones.

“I ended up working on ride-of-ways, surveying the land and surveying the oil and gas rigs for any problems that may have occurred during that time,” he said. “So there are many applications that you can use drones for and the business has just really taken off.”

Jordan has built some of his drones on his own, but not the ones he uses in his business.

“The drones that I use are from California,” he said, “from well-established places that build some of the best. They have gimbals, which is what stabilizes the camera, and there is no way in the world that I could create that myself. It holds the camera and keeps it in frame while the drone is moving in the air and that’s what keeps all of my footage stabilized.”

IMG_5217Jordan operates the drone from the ground and uses the FPV (first person view) method while filming.

“I set it up so that I can use my iPhone to show me what the camera is seeing,” Jordan said. “Or I can use a mini-tablet to show where I am with the drone and what’s going on.”

The size of the drones depends on the type of job that Jordan is engaged in.

“I have an array of drones for different jobs,” he said. “I have Quadcopters that I do most of my real estate with; those have four motors and four wings. They’re very agile, but they just can’t carry a big payload. So my clients that need more flight time and higher quality; I bring out my hexacopter, which has six wings and six motors and gives me about double the time I have with the quadcopter and I can put a bigger camera on it. Now if the weather is rough and I have to have something that’s going to remain stable in the air and I need to be able to rely on it in heavy winds; I use my octocopter, which has eight wings and eight motors.”

Jordan said with the octocopter two people have to handle it; one operates the camera and the other operates the drone. His brother or his other pilots help him out with that one.

Jordan is working on his website, and you can follow him via Instagram, where he showcases his work and potential clients can reach him with inquiries at skymastersphotography@gmail.com. There is also a Facebook page with contact information.

Jordan follows all the rules; he doesn’t fly over 400 feet, never near airports or at night and he remains within sight of the drone.

According to Jordan, drone photography is also much more economical than other aerial photography, such as using helicopters.

“With helicopter aerial photography, on average, maintenance, paying the pilot and the photographer, doing 20 minutes in the air is $800,” he said. “All of my drones fly over 25 minutes and all I have to do is recharge a battery.”

Jordan gets jobs all over the country where state laws allow drone photography.

“Currently, we’re in Ohio, Alabama, Mississippi, California, Maryland and Houston, Texas,” he said “And I subcontract the work to other fliers when it’s out of this area, so I don’t have to travel anymore.”

As for his newfound success; Jordan credits all of it to his biggest support system: his family.

“I love them unconditionally,” he said. “I couldn’t have done any of it without them.”


This story first appeared in a 2014 edition of the Delta Business Journal based in Cleveland, Miss. and owned by Scott Coopwood. Author Angela Rogalski is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at angela.rogalski@hottytoddy.com.

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