Amazing Views, Sky-High Profits for NJ Drone Photographers (VIDEO)
When Kyle Ferreira zip-tied a GoPro camera to a custom-made remote control helicopter a couple of years ago and sent it up into the sky, he had no idea the concept would evolve into a full-fledged, sustainable business.
But today, the Wyckoff resident is owner of Bergen County Aerial Media, where drones, and the views they capture, are the primary moneymakers.
His 18-month-old venture is a small sample of the New Jersey businesses counting on drone footage as their main draw.
Clientele range from couples who want their wedding days captured from above to public safety agencies that need live aerial coverage of emergency incidents.
"Eighty percent of my clients are Realtors," Ferreira told New Jersey 101.5. "They're looking to get a different view than other people ... which might be what the Realtor needs to sell the house."
He's also handled footage of extreme sports such as kiteboarding and parasailing, and the Tough Mudder obstacle course races.
Not just anyone, though, can send a drone into the air and make money off the footage — at least legally.
One must petition the Federal Aviation Administration for what's known as a Section 333 exemption, and as part of that exemption, flight of the drone must be conducted by or near a licensed pilot.
Ferreira never intended on becoming a pilot, but he didn't have much of a choice if he wanted his business to succeed. BCAM currently has five drones in its arsenal, and Ferreira employs four part-time cameramen.
According to Ferreira, he must sometimes turn down jobs due to their interference with government rules — such as proximity to an airport — but other drone entities in the state, he said, are flying "under the radar" and conducting business despite the lack of government authorization.