Drones have become hugely popular over the last few years, being used both by professionals and hobbyists and so I thought I'd write up my journey into the world of using drones for commercial operations, from a wedding photographers point of view. Please note through these blogs, all views are my own.
1. Starting the PfCO journey
Back in November 2017 I decided that after purchasing a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone six months earlier, I could see a great opportunity to use this in my Wedding photography business to add an extra element. The Phantom 4 Pro is an amazing piece of kit once mastered, and the integrated 4K camera produces stunning results. Being a professional photographer image quality is key, and thats why I decided to go for this particular drone out of all the ones currently on the market. Those who know me well, know how much research I do into anything!
After spending a few hours researching exactly what was required, watching youtube videos and reading blogs etc it turns out you need permission from the CAA (not a license as some people think, as this doesn't actually exist) if you wish to use a drone for commercial purposes, or in fact if you intend to make money or any kind of reward. This permission is called a "Permission for Commercial Operations", or in short a PfCO.
In order to get the PfCO, you need to be assessed by an authorised training provider (NQE's to give them their correct name - National Qualified Entities). You'll see a lot of acronyms whilst training!
Some people may prefer to study themselves, but I decided to do the training via an NQE and so the next step was to research nearby NQE's. Luckily there were quite a few training locations nearby from various companies - Knutsford, Chester, Uttoxeter to name a few. After comparing lots of NQE's taking into consideration price, location, course dates and more importantly feedback from previous students, I was swaying towards Uplift Drone Training who had a training location near Knutsford. Perfect for me, as it is only 25 minutes drive away. I had a couple of questions, and decided to use their online chat facility - to which Lyndsay replied instantly and helpfully answered all my queries. Having good support was a big plus point for me in choosing the right NQE.
The decision was made...
Uplift, although not the cheapest or most expensive seemed to offer everything I wanted, and proved helpful when I had a query - and so with all this in mind and a training location nearby I bit the bullet and booked onto their Fast Track PfCO Course there and then via their online booking system. This particular course consisted of 2 days of ground school, a theory exam, assistance writing the Operations Manual, a flight test and support before, during and after. The date was set for March 2018.
Things were now getting real!
Next time blog post number 2. PfCO Training