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Eyes Over the World

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Eyes Over the World with Dirk Dallas

Dirk Dallas, Kenna Klosterman

Eyes Over the World

Dirk Dallas, Kenna Klosterman

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1. Eyes Over the World with Dirk Dallas


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Eyes Over the World with Dirk Dallas

Mhm. Yeah. Hello, everyone. And welcome to creative live. I am kind of Klosterman, your host Haircut of live and the host of our podcast. We are photographers, and we have another fabulous episode here today. Um, coming to you from my home to my guest, Dark Dallas is home and to your home. So thank you, everyone for being here. Um, super excited to have one of our educators here on the podcast. Dirk Dallas. He's kind of known as the drone guy. Hey, is, uh, an FAA license drone pilot? He's a speaker. He's a professor. Um, he's really been around from the early days of the drone kind of world in photography and cinematography Started the movement. The hashtag from where I drone, uh, curated account. And now he has a brand new beautiful book called Eyes Over the World. The most spectacular drone photography. And he's got the adirama TV Siri's from where he drone as well. So dark Dallas. So fabulous to see you again. And thank you for being here with us on the show. Awesome. Thank you so m...

uch. I'm super honored to be here. Thank you. Awesome. Well, I want to start out. We're going to talk about you. We're going to talk about your life and drone photography. But first because at the time we're recording this, you're the new book. Just came out. And so congratulations, first of all, but I want to spend a little bit of time talking about this book and let's just start with It's a tell us about the book on It's Not just your Imagery. And so, yeah, tell us all about it. Absolutely so, as you mentioned from where I drone was a hashtag that I started a long time ago, we could talk about that. That's interesting to you. But, um, it's since turned into a website and really a curated account on Instagram, and the hashtag now has over 1.3 million uses. It's just on instagram alone. Um, so not on the other social channels. But the publisher, Rizzoli came to me and they asked if I wanted to participate in a book project. And of course, that sounded really interesting to me. I've been approached by a couple other book publishers. Um, those ones didn't feel right to be honest with you, but result is known for doing really great creative work. They work with photographers and designers and artists. And so it felt like it was gonna be a great fit. And so what happens? Um, in the processes were kind of thinking that we're going to do, like, a drone out to book. Are we gonna do? Are we gonna mix it in with some cool photos, what we're gonna do? And it was like, Let's just do what like from where I drone is known for, which is highlighting just really beautiful imagery, um, taken with a drone. And so what I did was I started to compile my favorite images that I've seen over the years. And, you know, to be honest with you, I've literally looked at hundreds of thousands of photos, um, tons of photos and so, like, whittled down my favorite images. The ones I think that, you know, just really interesting special for some reason, whatever that might be and then, you know, go down to, like a pull of 1000 and then to a pull of a few 100. And then, you know, what we have now is basically almost images was super tough, but exciting fun draining, Um, all of the above. And so what's What's representing this book is a book highlighting work from the community. From where I drone and there's over 125 photographers from all over the world, all seven continents are represented. Eso I'm just really excited about really happy Thio Let the world know now that it's out. So thanks for being interested. Well, of course it's I haven't seen it in person, but I have seen, you know, some of the images and such that are online. And it is it just makes you see and feel, um differently when you're when you have that different point of view. And so I'm curious also. I mean, you you set up the book geographically, Is that correct? Yeah. So, to be honest with you and it's like, how do you organize? Like a book of, like, 200 images from photographers all over the world? Male female, um, Australia, South America, Right. Like how like how do you do that? And so what? We ended up landing on was really just a few like distinct categories, which was water arid, lush, urban and ice Believe I said them all. And so we category categorized in that way. And what we found was that actually created kind of like a beautiful picture of the earth. Like you get you get to see, like, the different landscapes from a different point of view. As you said and, you know, from category the category, they just they still flow beautifully. There's a beautiful contrast. But then there's similarities. And so, you know, I people probably don't realize how difficult that was, but literally figure out how to organize. It was one of the more difficult parts of it and seeing it Now, um, getting feedback. Like I feel really good about it. Yeah, I think we did a good call. Yeah. I mean, I think I can only imagine, Like you said, you've been looking at drone images from the community and from makers all over the world for seven years. Yeah, six years. Yes, six years. So I'm curious. You've You've looked at all this imagery for six years. What did you learn? Whether that's about photography, cinematography, the or about the world Through this the process of making this book. Yeah. So what I learned is that there's, like beauty everywhere. And to be honest with you, that's something that is, like has been a personal, even challenge for me. Just even if you want to say, aside from you know, the book. But just a challenge for me is like looking for beauty all around me. There's a lot of darkness, Um, but I'm challenging myself to, like, Where can I find beauty? Where can I, you know, identify the ugly? And, you know, I want to run to the beauty and I wanna I wanna run to the beauty I want to run from the ugly. But what? Getting back on track with the book is like, I've just seen this thing, this beauty, that's just it spans the globe. It leaves me in awe. It leaves me, you know, feeling like there's something mawr. It leaves me wanting to go to these places myself. Um and so, like, that kind of feeling doesn't happen. Ah, lot for me, to be honest. Like I have a good time. I laugh at a funny video on YouTube, but having moments like that are rare. Um, to be honest and so something I've learned is man, we live on an incredible, beautiful planet. Wow, my job is dropped. Was it? Is it I'm curious about again. That's the aspect of the global nous of not just the imagery but of the photographers. Were you able to kind of see something different in the different styles, or, like, learn something about the photographers themselves? That is just what we're looking at or the cult culturally, that za super interesting question can. So I guess I'm just kind of thinking about that pondering it right now, um, it makes it definitely has, You know, when I kind of stand back, I see, like, the great lengths that a lot of you know the photographers represented represented the book. Go, um, there's there's ah, you know, it makes me question like Why, like, why? Why does someone go, You know, hike to this place that looks like it's in the middle of nowhere to capture a scene, Um, or even to, you know, there's There's an urban section, you know, and it makes it's interesting to me why, you know, someone decided to take up their drone in this particular area, point their camera and then, like, shoot that so The question for me is really like, I guess I've noticed that there's, ah, curiosity about these photographers that drives them. So my question that I would want to pass back to them is like, Why? Like so the big thing that I'm realizing is this idea of were curious about our surroundings, um, way seem to be seeking something. We seem to be in pursuit of things. That's that's really interesting. Those were actually philosophical questions that you know would be fascinating to actually have me ask the photographers. Well, there you go. You can You could go do that. Yeah, There you go. Have a little I G Siri's. I love it, too. So let's let's dig into that, then with you. Let's let's go back to when you first started doing this type of photography. Um, because again, you were early days. So tell us about your intro into into Drones and drone photography. Yeah, So my story, even just with photography, is I actually come from like a video background, and I started doing photography with the first IPhone, and it was because it was a decent camera and I wanted to, like, practice my framing And so I would take a picture every day. And at the time there was no Instagram, so I would upload it to flicker. And there was a community on their of, like, IPhone photography and IPhone photographers, I should say, And it was awesome because we're all trying to push the IPhone like, how far could you push it? And the biggest compliment at the time would be someone saying, Hey, what camera did you take that with you? Like I take it with the phone like that was crazy back then in the early days. But, you know, at the same time, Flicker gave us flak like we would get comments about this not being photography. The phone was not a real camera. And then you contrast that today with, like, IPhone Or, you know, Apple has the shot on IPhone billboard like just bam and like no one would deny that, like it's like, Oh, my gosh, right, It's crazy how far we've come. But all to say, I was really just getting into photography to practice my eye for cinematography, framing, composition, stuff like that. But then, you know, download instagram 2010. I was actually one of the very early users, Uh, like user 4000 somewhere in there. And I didn't like it to be honest, because no one was on there. So, like, no one followed you. No one liked, you know, one commented, Um but then I got really into it after the community started to build, and then fast forward to about 2014. I got to be honest, a little tired with my photography. Um, I was very comfortable going down to the beach and shooting the period sunset. You know, I knew that would, you know, generate quite a bit of likes people like that kind of stuff. But to be honest, I I was over it like it wasn't interesting to me any longer. And so I needed a new challenge. And I've always actually been interested in, like, flying RC helicopters and airplanes. But it's a very expensive hobby, to be honest with you. And I would spend so much money repairing things, and it was so hard toe, actually keep it going. So I ditched that, um but then in 2014, I I heard about something called a drone, and obviously I was into photography. And I was like, Hey, I wonder like if these worlds could actually merge. And so I got to go pro, stuck it on the drone. My first drone, I take it up, uh, in my in my yard I look at my neighborhood and my mind was just blown because I've never seen it like that before. Ever. Like think about that. Like, I've driven in here every day, go to work, come home, go to work. But I've never seen it from that angle and it just changed. Everything was like, Wow, I could actually now go to the beach, shoot the pier. But it's gonna be a new challenge, like, you know, if you think about it, can I? You you I could walk to the pier and I can, like, find a bunch of angles. Okay, that's great. But with the drone, it almost feels limitless. Like I could get a shot 50 ft up, But I could also go or I could go 100 I could go to the right, to the left, to the front, to the back. So, like, talk about like trying to figure out the best angle. And then now I realize that there's all these different, you know, ways to play with perspective and like, you know, do I show the sky, Do I not do I do I just point straight down and compress everything and oh, my gosh. And I could not find anything at the time. That could point me in the direction of how to do this better because it was so new. No one, No one had books on this. There was no websites. So it was It was such an exciting time. It was a challenge. Um, because, you know, now we can actually see what we're shooting on the screen. And back then with the GoPro. You know, I would put that thing in time lapse mode, which means it would take a picture every five seconds. So I would have to fly somewhere and count in my head like and then be like, all right, I think I got a shot and then I wouldn't know until I drove back home, pop the card in my computer and then saw it. So, in a weird way of sort of like the magic of film. You know, people love talking about the magic of film, like you don't know what you're going to get. I totally got a little taste of that in the early days of drone photography. Well, that's exactly what I was just thinking. Aziz, you're describing that. And it's just so interesting that that was again, like not just that that drone photography's is not that old. But even just thinking about Instagram not being that old and flicker being the thing versus Instagram and and just how everything you know continues to evolve and change, um, in in all kinds of ways. And so going back around Teoh, you know you seeing when you describe seeing your neighborhood for the first time, it's like we didn't have Google Earth back then either. You know, toe probably. I think, uh, t to see those different views. Um and so I'm always curious with sort of aerial photography. And and this I mean, I love you describing that there was a whole new world, but also that you had to discover all the different things you could capture and how and what? Because I often yeah, I don't know. I don't. I haven't personally done drone photography or cinematography. And so I'm curious about how you've evolved, um, to now what your approach is versus. I mean, obviously, technology has changed. The all the gear has changed. Um, but from your sort of creative approach and what's going through your mind differently from back then What? What's different today? Well, I guess, like, you know, it's still a little overwhelming. Um, you know, if I'm being honest because you have to, like, really, truly think in three D. Um, you know, in some ways it's easier because I can kind of just sit. I could sit on the beach and fly my drone around. So yes, in that sense, it can be said that it's easier. But then in other senses, I just get overwhelmed by all the options. It's almost like that you know, the issue of too much choice. It's like I just want to get pasta. I don't wanna look at 50 different pasta boxes, right? And so, you know, I guess what I've done is I've tried toe give myself a little bit of like a limit. So, like, you know, typically, I might be like all right. I wanna I wanna go up and get a shot and I wanna be able to see the horizon and maybe, like the clouds and the sun or something like that. But then the next one, I wanna crop out the horizon. So now, like the top of the image, you actually don't really You can't see the sky. So then the visual cues are, you know, lessened. And then I want to get a top down shot where I'm looking straight down, and that's where everything is compressed. And so things can start to be a little more abstract. And so I I tend to kind of think in the rule of three, um, that I just kind of said to you, it's not like it's a rule, but and I think it also harkens back to like when I was doing a lot of video work, I would be like, I get overwhelmed by a scene like, Do I do a push in, like, do I put my camera up high like, what do I like? I could capture this in so many ways. And, you know, I remember thinking like, Oh, I'm going to capture a wide and medium and a tight shot of this scene. And now I have, like, three toe work with. There's some variety there and I don't get too overwhelmed. So, um, now, of course, I'm like looking for things. There's things I now I'm paying attention to. In the early days, I never really thought about how there's only one light source like photography, you know, on the ground we could bring in another light. We could bring in a bounce. We have the reflectors, right? And drone photographer. You have one light source. So you're constantly having to think about like, how is my scene being illuminated? Um, where the dark areas Where the light areas, Um, you know, even to like, you know, people tend to talk about like don't shoot midday, like always shoot early and late, and I totally agree. Like, it's great advice. But in drawing in the Drawn World, I also know shooting midday means my shadow is going to be sharp and crisp. And so that means I could actually use that to my advantage, to tell a creative story where maybe I wanted to do shadow play where the focus is actually on the shadow and not the subject, right? And so there's just different things like that that, you know, taking timeto learn. Like, of course, I I can still go out and shoot midday like that's not a problem, but I'm probably gonna be keeping my drone camera down. But like, there's various things like that, and that's what is exciting is I'm still learning things. I still have so much to learn. Well, that, like you said earlier about getting bored with, um, just doing a certain type of IPhone photography, Like when we get bored, Um, then you know, it doesn't become that spark or, you know, enjoy anymore. I wanna talk more about the community aspect of what you do, because it's not just the book. Obviously that is focused on the community. And you could have created a book that was just your work. Uh, and so what does community with regard to drone photography and cinematography mean to you? How has that influenced your life? Oh, yeah. I mean, community is crucial to what we do like without community. Um, I would be lost without people speaking to me without people encouraging me without people challenging me Without people sharing their knowledge with me, I would be lost. And so, realizing that realizing how important and valuable community is like I set out to build a community, I, of course, had no aspirations to what that would mean. But I definitely knew that at the time in 2014, there was like no one really flying drones. I started hashtag it was totally a joke. I had no, like big aspirations of something. And then I one day clicked on it and I find, like, 50 plus photos or whatever of other drone photographers around the world that we're using it. And I'm like, Oh, my gosh, there actually arm or people doing this And I found other people. I asked them questions I learned from them, you know, we would inspire each other. And from that I discovered people all over the world that we're doing really interesting things with drones. And I was like, I gotta start an account now. I gotta feature this work and let people know about it because there wasn't really any way to, I guess, discover drone photography, unless you happen to know the person and so I also wanted to promote it at the time is like guys, I think this is pretty cool. Like I wanna let the world know. And so today what that looks like is, you know, I get d M every week like, hey, like what? What drone should I get or how do I do this? Or sometimes troubleshooting, which I'm not necessarily the most helpful with that stuff, but I'm I'm realizing that community, um, is how we help one another. It's how I've been helped. And so I want to do that like That's literally what? From where I drone is, it's to the community. And, you know, for me to put this book out in the world represents the community, and it's this tangible thing that we can all now hold right. We're all probably guilty of it, right way scroll for like half a second. Taking that photo half a second, I found myself like looking at the book, even though can I have started these photos forever in all my screen on instagram and in design and drafting proofs. But like now in the book, like I still find myself like like pausing like man that person is so talented. Wow. Look how they frame this. This is so interesting to me or whatever that might be. And you know it from where I drone. For whatever reason, we're toe get the account, you know, deleted from Instagram or I shut down the website. The book is now a new artifact in the world that will forever be here like, you know, eso Even if I go away like there's this thing that you know represents something that I think is beautiful And, you know, I hope it's inspiring to other people, and I hope they could be proud of it. The photographers that air in it. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, with 125 contributors and all continents from all over the globe, I mean, that is again, it's such a different thing than I believe that if it were your work, I mean, your your work is gorgeous as well, but it shapes what the project is, um, in a different way. Um, you know, culturally and visually and all of those things you were touching on a bit of when and looking at those images and print. Of course, There's just, you know, in the world of photography changing from film to digital and and in this age not many people printing their work anymore, myself included and sort of having to be conscious about doing that. And so I love that you talk about how it is different when you spend more time with an image because you're looking at the print and you might not be flipping the page just quickly as you're scrolling. So, um so that's that's really it's a reminder to perhaps look deeper into the images that we are looking at digitally. Well, that's the thing to can write, like with even our phones. There's a cool image on Instagram, but like then I get a notification from our friends. Like I got a reply to that like my attention just got diverted. Right? So one of the things that's interesting to me is I haven't done a lot of pretty like like you just said, and I've printed some of my photos, um, to kind of go with the book. Um, and you know, I've seen these photos, but then when I see a printed, I'm like, wow, like I should do this more often like it's It's pretty cool. Like, um, it's pretty cool to see this, like, tangible thing that I could hold. And it sounds so weird because I've heard so many people talk about, like, film the film days and stuff. But I am experiencing it. Not like, wow, when I hold it, it's totally different, like And so I just want to say like, I get that now, like I was ignorant and I get it now and it zits. Awesome. So, yes, Go print your work. Go find your best work cannot print it. Listeners, go get your fear. Images printed given is a gift. Wow. What a what a special way to, like, give someone a small gift and just back Hey, always thinking of you. And I wanted, you know, bless you with this or whatever that may be exactly exactly. Um, I want to switch and talk a little bit about Dirk as ah, in your earlier years. Where you I mean, you mentioned that you were doing video work, but then also, you mentioned that you used Thio, you know, electric planes and, you know, whatever that was. So so were you as as ah, teen as a younger kid like, tell me about your upbringing. Where you creative Were your parents creative? What were you like? What were your early influences? Yeah. So my parents were both elementary school teachers and my grandma, My grandma was a teacher. And so teaching was, like, just something that was a big part of our family s. I remember always being at school or having to go to, you know, these functions that were school related. And so, in terms of like, creativity is we're all kind of thinking of it now, like photography and stuff like that. Not really. Um, but, you know, one of the things that was interesting to me is my dad was into photography, and it was just a hobby, Not serious, But he would have all these, like, stacks of magazines. And I remember I wanted to get, you know, a camera and, you know, it was just a tiny little brink eating camera that I took to the zoo. And I remember it was just so fun. Being able looked through the viewfinder and then picking up those images. It's funny. I'm saying I'm realizing the connection to what we just talked about. Remember picking up those images like, Wow, this is super cool. But aside from that, I wasn't really doing anything creative except like music. I was playing music. I was in a band. Um, my friends were e. I played guitar. Yeah, and so I guess as you're making me think about this question, what I will say is, you know, my parents I mean, really my mom, especially. What? Happy try. So many things. Like, I think she really helped make me curious. Like I remember she signed me up as a kid to go take a college cooking class in the summer. Right? And I learned to bake, and that was fine, but I wasn't into it. But then she signed me up to play guitar, and my dad signed me up for soccer and then basketball. So, like I was getting exposed to a lot of things. But around the time when I was in a band high school, my friends were all like skaters. And, you know, I was a skater. I wasn't great, though, and I knew that. But my friends were good. I remember asking my grandpa, Grandpa you have this really cool video camera that you only use when you go on a cruise and you know it doesn't get used. Other than that, is there any way I could borrow it? And he said, Yeah, you let me borrow. So I remember shooting my friends doing video of them doing really cool tricks. And then we made a video, and that was when I just fell in love with the act of creation like that. Was it for me where I was like, Wow, I could build something, um, and turn it into something interesting at some music. And then that was just a huge turning point for me. So I got really into video and, um, not enough, though, to make it a career. I actually went to college to be an elementary school teacher, which is interesting because that was being influenced by my family. Of course, like, I wanna be like them. And, you know, they get paid decent, decent and probably will always have a job. So it's safe, right? And so I'm thinking like a family man. I wanna I wanna be able to provide. And but, you know, my girlfriend who is now my wife, Alicia. She just told me something. I remember that first year she could just tell that it wasn't something I was really enjoying. She knew. I just love doing videos. She knew I wanted toe edit and make stuff. And so she encouraged me by saying that I'd rather have you do what you love. Um, you know, we're not well off then, you know, we're taking care of and you hate your, you know, basically hit your life every day. And that was huge for me because it basically validated. She wasn't, you know, expecting me to do anything specifically. She just wanted, you know, me toe like, kind of follow. What I would say is my calling, to be honest and, you know, it's so interesting is all the stories and there have led to me, you know, teaching. So I teach. I teach at a university here in Southern California. I've come on creative live, I do conferences. I do workshops, and it's like, Wow, what a cool way to combine my multiple loves. And it's just it's so awesome to see how things have actually come full circle with teaching. It's just not elementary school. Well, that that is the thing. That's because you have the intention of teaching always being something in your family that you're exposed to. And it's important to you, but that sort of realizing that the elementary school part of it wasn't the right part, but again following your passion and then it leading back to both of those skills. So you're talking about Alicia? You have a beautiful family. Father of four. Uh, how has that influenced the way you approach your whether it's your work or the teaching versus traveling mawr or what? What is what is dark? The father like? Yeah. Wow, such a great family mean Tiu question. Great question. Can s so I don't know. I mean, can I can I get a little honest with you? A little real like, Well, um you know, in the early days of instagram, I was on instagram, um, very early. And I got to overtime, build a following. Um uh, so you know, over 200, followers on instagram and I just remember those first couple little early years Like I had to be honest, an ego problem. I thought I was a big deal. I thought. I mean, I'm like, Gosh, like it's almost like the population of my city is following me. Like, are you kidding me? Like what? And then, you know, post a photo get praised, Awesome. So good. Love it, blah, blah, blah. And if I'm being honest with you like that stuff started to go to my head, I thought I was awesome. So good. All those things and I started to, you know, neglect my family a little bit. I would be consumed with instagram. I'd be consumed with shooting. I'd be consumed with editing. And I would be, you know, at times ignoring my my family, my wife never deliberately. I wasn't saying like, Oh, I wanna ignore them. I want to put them off. It just happened like I was consumed. It was fun. It was awesome. And, you know, there was a point where you know, Alicia I had a chat, and she basically helped me realize, like what I was doing. And it really shook me because I was like, Wow, I don't want you. I don't want you are my daughters to feel like that. And I realized I had had to change. I had to really get my my. I had to really get, like, a proper perspective, like creating like those things are good. Those things, they're fun, there's there's nothing wrong with them in about themselves. But when they consume you at the expense of other things that are important to you, then maybe it might be, you know, a time for you to step back and reflect a little bit. So for me, what that meant is I really had toe figure out, like, Okay, how can I be a great photographer, but a great husband and a great father and a great neighbor and a great teacher like That's one of the things I think that we actually miss so much Like we hold up these people, uh, in such high regard, You know, just to be honest with you, Steve Jobs, I love them. I'm a designer. My degrees in design. I have ah, um FAA in graphic design. And, you know, I appreciate design. I love Apple, but, you know, Steve Jobs isn't known for being the best boss or the best, dad, you know, on bats may be awkward to say and to hear. And maybe some people think it's blasphemy. But it's like he's an awesome designer at the expense of what, though, Like I'm really concerned with how you know the whole me, like photography is great. I love it from where John is great. I love it. The book is cool, but like there's so much more of who I am. Like, I'm concerned with all of making all of me. Great. If I if I can, like, how can I be all of those things to the best of my ability? So I've really, like, have have tried to strive for excellence, like, as I've come to this realization, like, how can I be excellent in this excellent in this excellent in this, and it's hard. I'm not saying it's easy, but I'm mindful of it now. And, you know, that's taken putting up safeguards like I need a safeguard my time. Like if I'm always on my phone, then my kids will never get my attention. So Okay, what am I gonna do? Well, maybe I need to block out times a day. Like when I come home. Um, you know, I put my phone in the study and then we eat. We play a game, we go on a walk, we clean up, we do bath re read, the kids, go to bed. And then maybe now I post. And so sometimes people say, like, Why do you always like post around nine o'clock? Is that like the Magic Instagram our And I'm like, to be honest with you, that's like my kids went to bed and my family has been taken care of for this point in time. Now I have a moment to post or something. So yeah, that's a that's a little bit how I view things if I'm just being honest with you. Well, I really appreciate that. And and I'm sure the audience and community will, too, because people don't always call themselves out on a number of things but including, you know, realizing where your what your ego waas. We all have an ego. We all have an ego. I mean, that's part of being human. But it's it's figuring out that our ego is not who we are as a person and finding what is the most important to us and then giving our time and space to that so thank you, Alicia, for calling you out on that. But the fact that you were able to recognize that and then make changes, um I think is the is the beautiful thing. I mean, again, I I was watching your instagram stories the day that your book came out and just the adorable your kids making signs for you and, you know, and baking. And it was like, clearly, you know, so much love, um, for you as a as a father. So I don't know, I'm just I'm I always love to find out about people's families and how they do prioritize, um, with with art, with running a business with being an educator, you know, all all of the things. Yeah, Well, that's such a good point, McKenna. Because, like for me, it's taken timeto learn that, but like, you know, I could always keep going. There's always more work to do. So, like, for me personally, what I found is I have to, like, just have times where I'm guarding that, you know, um, moments throughout the day, the week, whatever that is. And if it doesn't become a priority, that will never happen. So like my kids, You know, they all They always want to play with me, which is awesome, Like, I love that daddy. Keep play with me and they think, like, you know, I'm just going to be able to play with them all day long, right? And that's so beautiful. But obviously I have to do things, you know, we have bills to pay stuff like that, right? But then, like if my if my kids, though, have ah, time where they, you know, they know that's their time. Then I can, you know, really pour into that moment, you know, and I'm making them a priority, along with wanting to get my emails out. It's like also want to spend time with my kids, and that's taking me a long time to realize that. So I just wanted to make sure we mentioned that. Oh, yeah, I appreciate that. Um and so I'm curious about going back to two drones and, you know, education. And how else have you seen drones? Sort of kind of revolutionized the way that whether it's science conservation, E. I mean this ability to again go have different eyes over the world as your book is called Eyes over the world. Um, storytelling, you know, humanitarian aid, like, is that something that has evolved and changed that you could talk, Thio? I don't think, um, I don't think, but that I am specifically, um, up necessarily on, uh, like the humanitarian kind of kinds of things. But I will say that I do. And I don't know the the photographer. Unfortunately, my name. But I do remember seeing this. Siri's where a photographer, I believe when shot in Africa. And he really showed, um, like the divide he took his drone up and on the right was like the lush green, you know, ritzy neighborhood. And then there was a wall, and then on the on that side was, you know, the slums essentially, And I remember, you know, thinking that was a really that was a That was a profound image because it said with the article, it's like it's visually told, Well, you could have read, and so that profoundly like affected me. And then I remember, too. And I think it was the New York Times. They went thio somewhere out in the desert. I don't know. Maybe Palm Springs or something. like that. And then they were showing, like, you know, the divide between these lush communities and then like the desert. And it was something about, like, water conservation. Or maybe something like that And those things, you know, we're really interesting, Um, to me. But if I'm being honest with you, I I I'm not, as you know, up to date on things in in that sphere. Well, it just it just going back Thio again just the way that we can see things differently And getting that, like you said that I can when just you describing those images, I can imagine what it would, how it would look differently from above. Just like, you know, as we see, images from space and everything you know, looks different, um, different from above. And so this kind of ability to I always like to think about, you know, how can can photography change the world and whether that's on an individual level of somebody being moved by a beautiful image or sort of on this bigger global scale of enabling change. Um, at whatever cultural societal, what have you So then I hadn't really thought about well, can aerial photography changed the world in a different way. Oh, yeah, that was interesting. Well, as you're saying that like, it changes us because we're seeing, like I mean, I've been to Palm Springs a ton of times, but I've never considered, you know, the image that I saw and that spoke to me profoundly like, um, that was visual communication. And so it had an effect on me. And, you know, actually, you know, I'm not. I guess I said I'm not really well verse or knows too much about those types of things. But, like, I know, I think a lot about water conservation. If I'm being honest, like, you know, even, you know, from the small thing of like, you know, I How much plastic. Um, I, um I using right. Like so I know these things affect me. And can it change me? Yes. Like, it makes me think about water usage and being in so cal. Like, am I gonna have some, You know, crazy garden that requires all of this, you know, water. I mean, I don't know, like, I'm not saying anything about anyone, necessarily. I'm just saying like it's it's makes me think though, like before. I don't know how much I would have thought about stuff, but I like it. I'm just gonna do it. But now I'm like, Oh, like Well, what does what does this mean for this? What does this mean for that? Like thes air questions directly inspired by things I read. But also things I see, right, right. And I think going back to the beginning of the conversation and just kind of pondering the y, um, and the the curiosity that drives us as creators or photographers Or, you know, now image seekers from above. Um, but yeah, it's it's asking questions that are more than just about creating the art itself. Um, so I've I've heard you talk about, um, about constraints and, like the fact that constraints can help somebody you know, B'more creative or because, like, you were talking about earlier if, like everything is a possibility, then it's hard to know what to dio eso How How have what construct what are there now for you in sort of the constraints, um or have those are those changing so that you're able to utilize certain things to help you grow? That was kind of a long winded question, but well, now you touched on something that's actually has really affected my creativity. Like I embraced constraints now, like I used to be the you know, the person that would grumble, You know, like when this wasn't how I expected or whatever that might be. It's like the being creative required due to embrace constraints. Like from a budget standpoint, there's always not enough money, right? From a time standpoint, there's always not enough time. Um, from A from an equipment standpoint, right? Like, you know, people I remember they'll say, like, What camera should I get? I want to get into photography. I'm like you have your IPhone right there. Like seriously, start with that. Like you don't go spend $1000 like just start. It's a decent camera, like right. And so now, like, you know, I shared with you that idea of the rule of three, right? It's like I tryto I know when I take my drone up. I'm always like thinking like I can't do everything like because right, like I want to take photos. But I also want to take video. I would love to do Ah, hyper laps, which is like a time lapse with the drone. And you know, all these things and, like, I kind of have to just focus on, Like, what? What's like the one thing I can focus on for this particular shoot or whatever, and I'm embracing the constraints. And so that's opened my mind to also be like, Okay, creativity requires going with the flow, have a plan. But things are always, you know, there's gonna be something right, Like it's gonna maybe be a little different or it's gonna be totally different. And, you know, creativity requires us to roll with those punches, right? Like it's just a much about like how you can take a great picture as how are you working with the situation of the parameters that are in place And if you are, you know, someone that grumbles and complains and you know even is like, Well, if I had a five d mark four, you know, I could have taken that photo and it's like, you know those two things, to be honest, her, you know, excuses to me like great gear is awesome, but like it's not everything. And so one of the things that was so fun about the IPhone days was it was It was a way where we were all like on the same playing field. Everyone had the same camera, so it was always like, How far could you push it? And if you got that comment of someone randomly saying, What camera did you take that with your like Yes, right, Because you, like you can tell this is an IPhone. Are you kidding me? Like it's not? You can't tell that, right? It's like that was exciting. And so, you know, there's something about that even playing field that was beautiful. But like, you know, I think of even, you know, the can Kendrick Lamar has a producer that writes a lot of his beats, even on his phone with APS, and it's like that's accessible toe like a big chunk of us. Not everyone in the world, of course, but a large portion of us. So do you need a huge recording studio, you know, toe pump out a cool, you know, beat right? Like it's like maybe the excuses are, um you know, really something that we can hide behind, so I don't wanna like, say that there's never a valid excuse. I hope no one takes it that way. But I'm just saying, sometimes we can, you know, use that to, uh, you know, make a stagnant When really, I'm saying run to embrace it. Say, man, all I got is an IPhone. Wow. What could I do? Well, it's got a mic. Okay, I can start there. Right? Well, I think that's exactly a lot of photographers Will. We'll make excuses about that air related to gear, and and so I always appreciate the sentiment that it's it's not about the gear. Um, you know, it Z who we are as people and communicating the stories we want to tell. And you could do that. Like you said, um, through through whatever, you know, whatever it is that you have in and solving those challenges in in whatever way represents you. Um, I didn't really touch on sort of the cinematography side of drone, You know, you and you've talked about your first into video even before stills. So what? I mean again, with being over there being so many options of how to shoot a still, um, talk to me about taking the concepts of filmmaking into the sky and like, Is there a time our story where you realized what you could do and that shifted directions for you? Well, that's the thing that's so interesting about doing video with a drone is, you know, typically, like on that ground you're worrying about, you know, you know, going backwards and forwards and left and right. And then the drone introduces. Ah, whole another. You know, actually, so you got I can also go up. And so for me, like what Super interesting is figuring out How can I play with X, y and Z to create what I would say is a dynamic image. That's really what, like, drones have opened up the world cinematography to is like, Yeah, it zona be unique perspective, Yes, but really, we now can create a very dynamic shot. Uh, that would just be very hard to achieve on the ground. And that's because we're working within three D space in a way that you just couldn't really work with on the ground. And so for me, like realizing that, um, you know, I also not only in flying my drone in through to you, but my camera Comptel taught. And depending on what you're using, he could spin. Um, you know, it can get overwhelming. So on, if it's like a bigger shoot, I'll have a copilot where, you know, he focuses on the flying, and I focused on the camera, and that's like the most fun thing because I love flying. Flying is cool. As you know, I love I love flying because I used to fly electric helicopters and airplanes. But my favorite thing to do is when my co pilots flying and I just get to control that camera because it feels like I'm a bird. It feels like I'm flying in the sky just like how I, you know, used to imagine it when I was a kid, how I wanted to be like a superhero. I could fly through the sky. That's what I feel like when I fly with my co pilot, and there's just nothing to There's no way to describe it like one of my favorite memories is seriously being in the hills of northern California above the fog, and I was just flying over the fog, the clouds, I should say to be specific. I was flying over the clouds and from my vantage point of just the screen, I would literally then, you know, focus just on the screen because I'm trying to block out everything you know, with my peripheral vision. And I was imagining, like flying and it was just it was magical. And so that's a that's a feeling that I haven't got to. You really experienced too much. What was right about it was the location, but also the light, the settings, the clouds were low, and that was that was an awesome time. That was in the early days. So I don't know how I would be able to do that now, because there's there's a lot more restrictions and rules still follow. But that was a magical time. I'll share that. Yes, I know people are interested in all of those that whole area of talking about drone photography and here and rules and all of that. There's, you know, go obviously go to your website on Goto. You know, there's so many researches out there, but what I love about what you just described and going back to this like like you used to imagine as a child like that's this new imagination. Do you dream in in drone, do you? Do you have ever realized that you have dreams where you're flying? That's so funny. I don't really I don't think I could say I really have drone dreams. But you know what? You're as you're talking. You're making me think of like my earliest memory as a kid is literally sitting on my mom's lap in an airplane and I'm looking out the window and I was told I was about four years old. That's my earliest memory, and what's amazing to me about that, as I look back is I was connected to this idea of flight at a very early age. I was fascinated with flight at four, like I remember looking down, and I just remember being like, Whoa, that's wild! And you know, I wouldn't use sophisticated words necessarily at four. But I remember, um, you know, my my parents told me that I just thought that that was the coolest thing being on this plane looking out the window. And so I've always been fascinated with flight. It blows my mind. It's it's freeing. It's fun. You can explore There's challenges like it's just it's such a fun thing to Dio I love drone photography. Yeah, I love drone video. I love flying my drums. Well, you clearly love it so much and again not just for yourself, but for others, for community, for connecting with people who love the same thing. And I think that's so cool that that's your first memory and it all, you know, like you said, it all comes full circle. It all makes sense. Um, I think that's a beautiful place to end the conversation and just would love Dirk to know, um, one of the resource is out there that you have. Where can people find you? Connect with you both The community that from where a drone community, but also you personally. Yeah. So if you want to connect with from where I drone, um, it's at from where I drone on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Sometimes people say, like, how do you join the community? And all you do is like add the hashtag and some, you know, sometimes you you might get featured but really like use it to find other people, like find other people to follow to ask a question to to be inspired by and the website from where I drone dot com is where I have tutorials and videos. Of course I have my class with you guys on Creative Live, which would even address some of those questions that were brought up just a few moments ago. And my personal account, though, is at Dhaka, and that's on Instagram and Twitter is well.

Class Description


Our weekly audio podcast We Are Photographers brings you true stories from behind the lens and behind the lives of your favorite photographers, filmmakers, and creative industry game-changers. From their struggles to their wins, host Kenna Klosterman discovers the real human stories about why they do what they do.

Listen to this and other audio episodes on our audio Podcast page.


In this episode, learn about the origins of the #FromWhereIDrone community of 230,000 creators globally. Dirk explores his early days discovering the new world of drone photography and his fascination with flight from age four. Find out the joys and challenges of creating his new book Eyes over the World featuring 125 contributors from seven continents. Dirk gets real about recognizing he needed to check his ego and create boundaries to prioritize his family. Hear how aerial photography offers us new perspectives about our planet and ways to explore our curiosity as humans.


Dirk Dallas is an FAA-licensed drone pilot and photographer, designer, professor and speaker, and the author of the new book Eyes over the World: The Most Spectacular Drone Photography. Dirk is known as an early leader in the drone photography movement having founded @fromwhereidrone and, a leading drone photography and cinematography community and website. He is the host of Adorama TV’s web series “From Where I Drone", and a CreativeLive instructor.