The drone world is growing and changing constantly, but it’s still a relatively young industry. In many cases, current drone pilots have only been flying for two to three years. Many other people are still hoping to get their first drone soon.
Yet there are some drone pilots who have been in the hobby as long as drones have been a thing. Those drone pioneers paved a path for the many drone pilots who followed in their footsteps.
Dirk Dallas is one of those pioneers.
Dallas, a Southern California-based drone pilot, acquired his first drone in 2013. That was well before the boom of the industry as people were just starting to figure out the capabilities of these flying cameras.
“I got a hold of a drone, got a hold of a GoPro, took it up and my mind was blown,” Dallas said when interviewed on “The Drone Dish” on AirVuz.com. “I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Dallas actually started as a regular photographer before adding drones to his arsenal, a path not uncommon in the drone world. He had been posting his photography to Instagram since the very beginning of the popular social media app. In fact, Dallas signed up for Instagram on the first day it launched.
Since first joining Instagram in 2010, Dallas has garnered a large following, both on his personal account and on a drone-specific account he started called @fromwhereidrone. His personal Instagram account, @dirka, now has more than 311,000 followers. Not everything he posts there is aerial photography, although that certainly is the primary focus of the account.
Dallas created @fromwhereidrone on Instagram, and the account has surpassed 145,000 followers to become one of the largest Instagram followings for a drone-specific account. The #fromwhereidrone hashtag has also garnered tons of popularity among drone pilots. That hashtag has been used more than 370,000 times on Instagram.
The creation of that hashtag, Dallas says on his website, started off as a joke. It was a play on a hashtag that was very popular at the time: #fromwhereistand. Dallas added an aerial twist to it to include the word “drone” instead. The rest, as they say, is history.
“I then started using it on every drone photo I posted and each time people seemed to think it was funny,” he said. “Then one day several months later I decided to click on the tag and I saw over 500 drone photos using it as well and I was blown away!”
The @fromwhereidrone account is now used similar to the way the AirVuz Instagram account works in that it features the work of other drone pilots. With the popularity of the @fromwhereidrone account, Dallas decided to launch a website as well, fromwhereidrone.com.
“People were being introduced to drones and what you can do with them, and they were being inspired,” he said. “One of the things that would happen is I would get a ton of direct messages and emails. People would be like, ‘Hey, what drone do I need? Hey, how does the camera work?’ Just all the various questions people would have about drones.
“After a while, it kind of got to be a lot, so I thought, ‘Hey, maybe I should start a website.’ … It all stems from when I first started flying, there was really no info.”
While the site does include plenty of aerial photography, it’s also a great resource for drone pilots who want tips on taking great aerial photographs. With a background in graphic design, Dallas uses his trained eye in that field when taking drone photographs and shares those with other pilots on his website.
“I feel like the way I compose my shots are based a lot on some of the design principles that I learned in school,” Dallas said. “Just to name a couple, like symmetry and contrast and repetition and always having a focal point, a subject.”
Dallas began flying with some of the older DJI Phantom series drones and has witnessed first-hand the progression of drone technology over the years. These days, his drone arsenal has grown to include many DJI products as well as the Typhoon H by Yuneec. But there’s one drone in particular that Dallas is currently partial to when he flies.
“I have to say that my favorite is the Mavic right now,” he said. “I cannot believe how small they made that drone, and I love that I can literally just put it in my pocket of a jacket.”
Most drone pilots have a favorite shot they’ve taken or a favorite video they’ve put together. While Dallas has done plenty of creative aerial work over the years — including a baby announcement of he and his wife’s third daughter — he has a few specific shoots in mind when recalling his top choices.
“I have a little series I did with one of my friends in a red dress that’s one of my favorites, because it’s kind of like a faraway portrait,” Dallas said. “Typically with drones, we’re always taking shots of landscapes and buildings. (And) probably my stuff from Iceland. That was the first time I really got to see Iceland from the air.”
Dallas is one of thousands of drone pilots from around the world who has uploaded his work to AirVuz.com. On the drone media website, Dallas posted some of his dronies (a selfie taken with a drone) as well as his aerial reel. He also shared some of his photos, from desert landscapes to water features to wooded forests in Wisconsin.
Dallas shared the story of his introduction to drones and much more on the AirVuz original program “The Drone Dish,” which features drone pilots from around the world. The pilots tells their stories of how they got their start with drones, tips they have for drone pilots, and what their favorite footage is that they’ve taken. To hear from other drone pilots featured on “The Drone Dish,” click here.
“The Drone Dish” is a episodic program by AirVūz Productions. Since its launch two years ago the show has interviewed over 75 drone pilots from around the world. It is the sister show to “Behind the Goggles,” which interviews drone pilots who fly first-person-view and race or fly freestyle. Click here to watch each of the 24 episodes of “Behind the Goggles”. The two shows are formatted to highlight as well as give understanding and perspective to other drone pilots or drone enthusiasts who visit airvuz.com or are a part of the 1.3 million plus social media fans the site has.
For more great drone content from the international community of drone pilots, or to share your drone photos and videos, check out airvuz.com.