Recent data released by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that drone sales will grow from 2.5 million in 2016 to 7 million in 2020. Additionally, the organization projects that sales of drones intended for commercial use will more than quadruple from 600,000 this year to 2.7 million in 2020.
These numbers mirror the findings of a recent “Drone Use Survey” conducted by Professional Photographers of America (PPA). The national, industry-wide survey was comprised of more than 1,000 professional photographers to help better understand and forecast for the impact of drone use on photography businesses.
Among the key findings:
- Drones are being used most frequently in specialty photography areas such as real estate (25.28%), commercial (19.12%), wedding (11.83%), and nature (11.35%)
- Nearly one-third of respondents who are currently not using drones indicated that they are “very likely” to include drone/Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) images as part of their product offerings in the next 2-5 years.
- 40% of respondents not using drones have had customers inquire about using UAS as part of their paid assignments.
- PPA plans to share additional findings, as well as a first-of-its-kind exhibit and live photography drone demonstrations at its annual convention and tradeshow, Imaging USA 2017, in San Antonio, Texas from January 8-10, 2017.
“We pride ourselves in helping our members stay ahead of the latest and greatest technology resources available to professional photographers,” said PPA CEO David Trust. “As our survey and new FAA data revealed, drone usage and regulations are growing and changing. Our goal with the webinar is to educate photographers so they can make informed decisions about when and if to add drones into their product offerings.”
More than just a new gadget used to capture an interesting shot, commercial drone usage requires many investments by the owner/operator. In addition to the cost of the drone itself, operators are also subject to TSA background checks, taking an UAS operator test and complying with other FAA guidelines.
Staying true to its mission to help members be more successful through “protection, education and resources,” PPA has developed materials and training that will help photographers determine if using a drone is the right fit for their business and the steps they must take to operate a drone in accordance with FAA guidelines. This flow of information from PPA to its members will be vital as the FAA begins to establish and refine its first operational rules for commercial drone use in the coming months.