Trying to Fail

Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.              Paulo Coelho

To some, professionalism means being prepared. But prepared for what? Prepared for failure. At Aerial Innovations, our preparation is connected to what we have learned about failure. What can go wrong on this project/shoot/job? How do we prepare to over come that? Most of the time that means having a backup. A backup plan, a backup battery, a backup piece of equipment, a backup day in case of weather.

Last week, while preparing for a shoot at Bates Nursery, we planned for everything that could go wrong. Did we have the right equipment? Was everything updated and prepared with batteries & cards? The backups we brought proved useful. In the greenhouses the space was too small for the larger Inspire 2 UAS, but we have the lower profile DJI Mavic to use. We even got on plant carts to use as a dolly for lower views with the osmo…always have a backup.

Professionals are paid because they not only do a great job, but they get the job done through preparation. Because failure is not an option…at least not a very good one!


The Process as Reward

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward. – Amelia Earhart

When we finally figured out that Aerial Innovations of TN’s Value Proposition was our process….well, it didn’t light a creative fire under us. Is that what really set us apart from other photographers and made us unique? In fact, it took several days and weeks to let it sink in and then came the issue….how do we sell at process? 

Turns out, we didn’t have to sell the process, the process sold us. Time and again, clients would tell us, “Everything turned out great and it was so easy working with you!” We communicated well, knew their expectations and had the knowledge to deliver quality images. That was all because we have systems and processes in place.

This past few weeks, we have been working on creating and entirely new process for aerial video capture. We have the knowledge from several years of working with various systems and have filled in the gaps with new technology. It is exciting to watch the birth of a process, see where it gets streamlined and sculpted down until everyone can enjoy the final reward….easily creating a quality product that we are proud of. Never gets old. 


Quality is Learned

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” – Henry Ford

This quote reminds me to never stop learning. I also know that to truly understand something, you must be able to teach it. Developing knowledge into understandable and actionable items means you have to unpack all that you know about a subject, fill in the holes and create a way to transfer the knowledge easily.

Many times businesses fail to pass on the knowledge of how to make their product or perform their service because those managers or teachers may not understand the process or easily explain it to new employees or contractors. One of the core activities at Aerial Innovations of TN is to continually improve our systems and make sure everyone understands it enough to then show another person. We call them systems but they contain the knowledge on how to perform our service with the quality and excellence our client’s expect.

Never stop learning and never stop teaching. To hold onto knowledge without sharing it can hobble your team’s progress. And to believe a system is perfect and can never be improved upon will leave you with a frustrated team.


I-65 adjacent to Standiford field


Committed to Excellence

The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen filed of endeavor. – Vince Lombardi

It’s been difficult keeping up with changes in technology. Those lucky photographers who “grew up digital” had instant review for image viewing, automatic settings, a camera in every device, no need to change film AND preset filters! Lucky dogs. Those of us trained in darkroom techniques with manual cameras have to continually learn new and better processes.  Every year there is another new camera, an upgrade in software or a new program to master . Change and learning is hard, it’s painful at times, frustrating at times…but can be rewarding in the end! 

As you know, we have been committed to excellence since we set aside our Pentax cameras and adopted digital over a decade ago. That took some time until we were confident the pixels would rival the grain. We then became the lab, so we committed ourselves to learning Photoshop then Lightroom. Now we have a variety of UASs (drones) to compare to our DSLRs. The quality between them is not quite equal yet, but we are committed to providing excellence from any platform we use.  

Don’t get us wrong, we do love & appreciate the quality and ease with which digital photographic processes let us create stunning aerials. It’s up to us to find the best platform without trading the quality. The traditional platforms (helicopters, cranes, fixed wing) are best when paired with professional grade cameras. We are also adding a more professional grade camera to our UAS fleet, the DJI Inspire 2 with Zenmuse X5s lens. Over the next few months, you can journey with us as we add another quality platform to our arsenal. Stay Tuned! 


Flights of Fancy

2017 has come out of the gate full force! We never had the time to finish up our highlight reel from 2016 and it’s already March. (We prefer to be busy, of course, than work on marketing pieces). But we also like to look back fondly at all of the great projects we have worked on.

This year’s reel includes plenty of sunset shots, a solar farm, beautiful Tennessee and Kentucky landscapes, a bridge under construction, bears, UT and a dam. We just can’t make this stuff up, folks….see for yourself!

2016 Drone Demo Reel Link


Hearts Happen

Remember playing I Spy? Looking for objects and shapes and getting your car mates to guess what you were looking at? Well, we do a lot of that in the air, especially with our favorite subjects like pond scum, strip mining, quarrys and hearts! For some reason, those things are just visually interesting from an elevated angle.

Since it’s Valentine’s Week, we thought we’d share some of our favorite hearts. Some we fly over every month (like Johnny’s heart island), some are on buildings and others just happen. We hope you have a hearty Valentines Day and keep your eyes open for that eye candy 🙂

Nothing Could Be Easier

Do you ever watch someone do something that looks easy but you know how difficult it is? Is there someone in your life that you know will just “handle” it no matter how complex the task? Those are the people we want to work with AND that is the kind of company we want to be. Nothing can derail your day like, “I can’t possibly do that, it’s too (difficult, fast, boring, long….you name it!)

  • Wendy and the rest of the AI team are so easy to work with and always accommodate our special requests or tight time frames. Their images turn out great every time! Natalie Hamilton, Brasfield & Gorrie, Senior Marketing Coordinator

We ask a lot of our photographers, pilots and vendors but they always deliver. A pilot will have our aircraft ready to go, our photographers anticipate delays and communicate quickly to keep the project on track and our office can handle every crazy request you can throw at them (except loops, we can’t do loop-de-loops…or time travel…yet).

Here are three ways to get it done!

  1. Do your homework! plan, rehearse, prepare, anticipate…anything can go wrong
  2. Communicate! know who needs to know and keep them informed
  3. Follow Through! you think your done but are you? nothing is worse than loose ends

For this project, our client asked us to do a very quick turnaround on some interior images. They had barely finished doing the final clean and in two days they were moving in! We met and worked around some holiday decor and construction items to provide quality images. We were excited to show off our full range on this project; aerial progress on our helicopter route, final interior and exterior ground images and some beautiful twilight images from our Inspire 1 Drone.



Is This Work?

It’s been said, do what you love and you’ll love what you do. Well, what if you also love WHO you do it for? We really enjoy our clients, not because they are clients but because they care about their work they are building and are proud of it. We get it.

When we take on a project for any client to photograph, we make it our own. We love to see it grow and become a building or an apartment or, yes, even a waste water treatment plant. And to visit these places on the ground WITH our lovely clients? Even better. From start to finish, we are engaged and aware of the work our client’s expect.

Three ways to love what you do?

  1. Whatever the job, be passionate about it!
  2. If you don’t like your clients, you won’t like your work. Find people you enjoy
  3. When it becomes “work”, it may be time to reassess your passion

Here are some shots from us loving our clients and loving our work. With Lee Company out and about around town. We make it easy for Lee Company by offering them mutiple products including stock images, interior images upon completion, progress shots and here…a little behind the scenes of their big new marketing campaigns.



It’s almost the end of January and we are back in the swing of things. With our flying and shooting schedule, we have no time for delay to figure things out. It’s a tight workflow and we need to have everyone on the same page from sales to photographers to production. They even laugh that they don’t have to think, we have a system for that! Well, we do want to be thinking about how to get a great shot!

A perfect example was a repeat client who wanted us to shoot an additional property for them. Because we had previously shot for them, we knew what they wanted, looked up all of our notes from past shoots and were able to deliver the same consistent quality. No one wants to reinvent the wheel.

Three steps you can take to deliver consistent results in not just delivering to your photography clients but any business that does a repeat service or product:

  1. Develop a thorough system from initial contact to final delivery
  2. Make sure everyone is using the system and understands each step
  3. Continually improve the system when necessary.

Here are some of the shots from the client, Crain Construction, whom we worked with seamlessly including a drone video shot of one of the hottest spots in Nashville:


Best Images of 2016 – Aerials

Each job we start looks pretty much the same, a lot of dirt, cleared pad, clean slate. Over the months the final project takes shape until completion. At any stage (including dirt!) there can be incredible images that showcase the structure and guts of a building. We like to think of them like class photos in a hallway showing your children as they grow up.

Are we sad when the job is complete? Yes! But all construction must come to an end. When we get the chance for a great final photo, it’s like graduation time. Our building is all grown up and ready to face the world. We’ll see you on the ground!

Here are the best job site aerials of 2016. We hold all of our jobs dear (but we do have some favorites…don’t tell the others!)