Virginia Tech student Daniel Webb has combined his high school passion for photography with his dream to start his own business, establishing “Daniel’s Drones” aerial photography this summer.
Webb is a native of Vinton, a 2016 graduate (and valedictorian) of William Byrd High School and the Burton Center for Arts and Technology engineering program. He is now a sophomore at Tech, studying electrical engineering.
In fact, his professional career as a photographer began in the summer of 2013 when he was just 14 years old, working with WDBJ-7 covering the National Boy Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia in its inaugural year.
“I served as a hometown correspondent, where I photographed and wrote two articles about my experience for WDBJ-7,” said Webb. “Channel 7 also interviewed me live the morning we left for the Jamboree and interviewed me on site at the Summit Bechtel Reserve where the jamboree was being held.” Webb went on to become an Eagle Scout.
Webb says he enjoys all types of photography from nature to portraits, but as he learned more about UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) he became keenly interested in aerial photography.
“I first saw a drone my father’s friend had,” Webb said. “I instantly fell in love with the aerial images that the UAV had the capability of producing. It adds a unique, humbling perspective to the world we live in.”
He became an FAA licensed and insured UAV operator earlier this summer.
“Federal law from the FAA dictates that in order to become a commercial UAV operator you must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate,” explains Webb. “For a few months, I studied the laws issued by the FAA regulating drone usage and then passed my examination to become licensed.”
Some of these laws include flying under 400 feet AGL (above ground level), keeping the UAV within line of sight, and knowing the airspace before you fly. At all times, remote pilots must yield right-of-way to manned aircraft.
“Drones have been a large topic in technology for the last few years,” says Webb. “The market for UAVs, more commonly known as drones, is rapidly expanding. UAVs can serve many different purposes, from aerial photography to monitoring. Some areas where UAVs are being utilized include security, search and rescue, monitoring, disaster management, crop management, and surveying.”
“In the next 10 years billions of dollars of revenue are expected in this market,” Webb said. “Drone development in these fields and more are rapidly being undertaken by companies such as Shell (inspection), BBC (news), and Walmart and Amazon (delivery), to name a few.
“In some areas, drones are a cost-efficient and safe alternative in the work place,” said Webb. “Rather than putting a worker in a hazardous situation in a bucket truck, a drone can reach the same area in a fraction of the time and be safer for the workers.”
Webb believes that drones have the promise for making the world a better place.
“In the coming months, I hope to expand my services around the valley for individuals, realtors, businesses, and government,” he said. “I can produce anything from video advertisements to images for use in brochures or on prints.”
Webb uses top of the line equipment for his services. He can record media in 4K, a step above the standard HD 1080p. As a result, high quality images are produced for his clients.
Some examples of services by “Daniel’s Drones” include (but are not limited to):
- Businesses: Video advertisements, a view from above on projects (such as construction or landscaping), surveying, project proposals, information gathering to improve business operations
- Realtors: High quality aerial (and interior) images for properties listed on the market, videos advertising the property
- Homeowners: Aerial images of homes or land, creating framed prints as wall art
- Local Government: Tourism, images of notable locations, safety, coverage of big events
Webb has just used his aerial photography skills to create a spectacular view of the new stadium field at William Byrd High School.
“I am excited to continue producing aerial images of notable locations in the area, such as the new WBHS football field, for everyone to view,” Webb said.
“Daniel’s Drones” is currently focused near to home in the Roanoke Valley, but Webb is open to traveling beyond at client request.
As for his rates, Webb says that the cost of aerial photography in the past, before the age of UAVs, has been quite high.
“Now, with UAVs, it has become much more affordable for everyday people,” said Webb.
The basic package currently from “Daniel’s Drones” is $125 for the digital files of aerial images and raw video of a house, which includes:
- Travel to the site
- Fly and take a minimum of 15 images of the home
- Take a raw video if requested (no editing)
- Distribute digital files to the client for their use
- Insured services
More complex tasks will naturally involve higher fees, for example, additional requested services, edited video, or at a greater distance from Roanoke.
“One thing I have learned over the last few months is that there are many different needs depending on the client,” said Webb. “I am constantly finding new ways that aerial photography can be used.”
Webb may be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 540-293-3107. Some examples of his work may be found on his “Daniel’s Drones” Facebook page.