Drone photography opens a whole new world for your photography business but taking to the skies without knowing the rules is risky. Regulators are paying more attention to how unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are operated in the skies and some new FAA rules and procedures will impact hobbyist pilots as well as commercial operators.

It’s important to stay current on these developments so that your photography business can remain compliant and minimize the risk of claims.

Drone Registration and Certification

The FAA’s first operational rules for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) drones, called the Small UAS Rule or Part 107, was established in 2016. Since then it has been legally required to register your drone and obtain certification for yourself if you are a commercial operator.

If you’ll be flying your drone for your photography business, you qualify as a commercial operator and not a hobbyist, though rules are similar for both. To get started, make sure to:

PPA offers more tips and advice on getting properly set up on the Drone Knowledge Center.

Commercial Drone Rules

The FAA has created comprehensive rules for safe drone operation. Here is a partial list of the most common rules:

  • Obtain the proper registration
  • Fly at or below 400 feet
  • Keep the drone within your visual line of sight (VLOS)
  • Observe all FAA airspace restrictions
  • Respect privacy
  • Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports
  • Never fly over groups of people, public events or stadiums full of people
  • Never fly near emergencies such as fires or natural disaster recoveries
  • Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Drone Permission Waivers

With the proper Part 107 Waivers, you can do the following drone operations, which are otherwise not allowed:

  • Operating from a moving vehicle or aircraft
  • Operating commercially at night
  • Operating outside visual line of sight
  • Operating multiple drones
  • Operating over people
  • Operating in certain airspace

PPA has advice on applying for the waivers required for your professional shoots.

Other Drone Regulations

The FAA continues to roll out new requirements. Most recently, a change requires drone operators to pass an online aeronautical knowledge and safety test and carry proof of passing the test when they fly. New guidance for recognizing community based UAS organizations is also in the works.

As a professional drone photographer, it is also important to check state and local regulations before taking your drone out for a shoot. A list of some state and international regulations is available here.

Insurance for Drone Photographers

With all that can go wrong on a shoot, it makes sense to minimize your risks as much as possible with proper training, safety and insurance protection.

As a professional photographer you can protect your investment in your equipment and your livelihood with insurance from Lockton Affinity. With our General Liability endorsement, you are protected against the costs associated with bodily injury and property damage caused by your drone.

Learn more about Lockton Affinity’s insurance protection for your cameras, equipment, drones and photography business today.