Featured NewsTrending NewsPilots StoriesPilot Story: Alan Cline


18 April 2024

By Alan Cline

Of course, I had purchased one of the $50-$100 drones many years ago and they were hard to fly—no GPS, no hovering, etc. After crashing a few times, that was it. 

Fast forward to 2020, when I purchased my first DJI drone. It is a Mini 2 and I still remember how amazed I was at how easy it was to fly. With the GPS, ability to hover and the ability to  take great photos and video too, I was now hooked.

So, on a photography workshop in Iceland October 2021, I brought this little DJI Mini 2 and flew it quite a few times. I captured a still shot in Vestrahorn that just blew me away.  When the leader of our tour asked if I would give him permission to post the picture on his Facebook page, I said, “Absolutely.” (Even though I was a bit shocked.)

So, I can track my main inspiration to further my adventures with drones by that one shot I took in Iceland. I also flew over glaciers and icebergs and was just astounded by what that little DJI Mini 2 could do.  When my flight back to the states was delayed, I used that time wisely to pick up a used Mavic 2 Pro from Adorama and that became my main workhorse drone for a while. 

The lessons we retain the best are the ones that were the hardest to learn. While taking some video and photos of holiday lights, I failed to do some pre-flight scouting. So, my Mavic 2 Pro ended up in a pine tree, which I ended up climbing at night to get it down. It suffered a broken arm which DJI “fixed” for $90.  Actually, they gave me what looked like a brand new drone and offered DJI Care since it is available for new or refurbished products. Now, I had some flight insurance

One thing about drones is that everytime I put one in the air, it seems magical what one is able to do with this really awesome flying camera. The technology never ceases to amaze me.

As one gets into better and more capable equipment, it can get a bit expensive, so I thought it would be a good idea to turn this into a business. In May 2022, I passed my Part 107 test and became a licensed UAS Pilot. Not long after getting my Part 107, I started Creative Drone Photography, LLC and set up my website: www.creativedronephotography.com.

As I write this it is April of 2024. I have done an interesting variety of jobs including a residential solar installation, roof inspections, executive visit for Rauch company, Storage facilities for a company that buys and sells them, video clips for a motivational speaker/influencer, land shots for a property dispute on a ranch in Colorado, some freelance stills for a small newspaper, and images for a new Airbnb. When you work with a drone, there are so many different opportunities due to the unlimited perspectives you can provide.

About a year ago, I got a taste of FPV, flying a friends DJI Avata. Even though I was a bit busy to get into FPV at the time, I was instantly hooked. When I put the goggles on, it felt like I was flying. FPV just takes the whole drone flying to another level and I knew that I must integrate that into my business.

So, I just purchased some Fatshark Scout goggles, a Radiomaster transmitter and started building my first FPV. It sure is a steep learning curve, but with YouTube videos by TronCat FPV, Joshua Bardwell, and many others, there is more than enough training out there and the FPV community has been extremely helpful. In general, I have found other drone pilots to be extremely helpful and willing to lend a hand by answering questions and even offering to fix a configuration or in my case assist in calibrating sensors on my Mavic 2 Pro.

Getting back to FPV, I am still working on building a 5” FPV, practicing FPV flying on the simulator, etc. I plan to get a small cinelog 35 quad to fly mostly indoors and my new DJI Avata will be arriving soon too. My goal is to get into Cinematic FPV flying as part of my business offerings because I think there is great demand and the flights are just a lot of fun! 

Yes, I am running a business to make money and like any business there can be challenges and headaches, but the bottom line is I have a real passion for flying drones and capturing compelling images and videos. It is a great feeling to be able to make money doing something that is extremely enjoyable!

I know there is a lot of competition out there and some people think that the drone industry is oversaturated. I see the industry and business differently as I am not too concerned about the “competition”. I am constantly on the lookout for other pilots willing to work together on bigger projects or someone to take on jobs if I am too busy or traveling (which is something I also enjoy)

Running a business has its ups and downs, but at this point I see many opportunities as the technology improves and those not willing to persevere a bit drop out.  My plan is to hang in there and continue to develop new and better skills in flying, capturing photos and video, editing, and adding sensors such as RTK, thermal, lidar, etc depending on customer demand.

I have been doing photography for over four decades. Although I specialize in still shots, I am developing my skills in shooting video and I have partnered with a videographer who I believe will be a valuable addition to my business. 

My philosophy is to continue learning and developing skills while partnering with other busineses so I don’t have to turn any jobs down for lack of equipment or skillset. Cooperation is much better than competition. Since the drone community is just that, I have found that it makes sense to work with each other.  I consider myself a local “ambassador” for the drone industry.  There are people out there that don’t like drones or think drones are spying on them. Just like anything else, drones do have other applications that could make them intimidating, but I always promote responsible and reasonable use of drones and I want my neighbors to realize how wonderful  a tool this flying camera can be. Drones do save lives!

I was invited to a demonstration of the new Skydio X10D which is a drone often used by law enforcement. It became quite clear that for these dedicated individuals who put their lives on the line all the time, that a drone is a very valuable life saving tool. When public safety can use a drone to provide real time imaging and information about a scenario instead of blindly putting someones life at risk, one starts to realize that these little flying cameras are really invaluable.

I look forward to leveraging my passion of flying drones, capturing imagery, and learing about new and emerging technologies to take Creative Drone Photography, LLC to the next level!

Learn More 

See my Pilot's Profile Page at The Droning Company. 

Get Our Newsletter!

Don't miss out on essential news, industry updates, hot videos and photos, gear reviews, and more!