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Create Art Through Photography

Lesson 9 of 16

Drones Change the Way You Photograph The World

Art Wolfe

Create Art Through Photography

Art Wolfe

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Lesson Info

9. Drones Change the Way You Photograph The World

Lesson Info

Drones Change the Way You Photograph The World

People ask if I use drones. I don't have a license. If you use drones and you're a professional, you are required in this country to have a license and you can get into financial trouble if you do that. For the most part, people that have drones aren't shooting, you know, commercially and so, there's, you still have to register the drone, but, somebody like me that, the only reason I'd use a drone is if I can use the work professionally. So, I work with film crews. I work with assistants that have gotten those permits and often, it's really difficult to drive a drone and take really serious shots. It's really difficult. So, I tend to work with people that have their drones on the film crews. It is a perspective and it's a funny thing about drones because I've been, like last week, or two weeks ago, I was in Iceland and there was another photo instructor that was using a drone and people that were next to me, they weren't in a group, I was actually traveling just with Thomas, they were ...

saying, "oh I hate those drones". You know, they hate the drones, but, they love to see the photos. So, there's a bit of a disjunct there, you know, in the BBC productions of Home Planet and all that, we're seeing the world in new ways that we've never seen before because there are shots from drones that you could not get with a helicopter. So, they love watching it, but, they don't like the intrusion of the noise. So, it's something we have to reconcile. Where I use the drones generally are around tribes that have agreed to be photographed with drones. This is a wide angle shot where I'm just leaning over these skeleton people with a wide angle. That's how I got that shot, but, I'm not quite getting the perspective that you can get when you're using a drone. So, yeah, there's no tourist around here that are being disrupted. It's out there in the bush and we're working round with this tribe and Toby is using the drone, a really nice drone, good fidelity and I'm taking the pictures when I got 'em and I'm usually saying okay left, right, forward or back and so, it's become yet another tool that I totally embrace and that's around those mud men I was talking about earlier. So, new perspectives of old subjects. So, we live at the time. Here, I am in Africa and look it, I'm leaning forward with a wide angle, trying to get that above the view, but, I'm not tall enough to photograph these people and yeah, that's kind of a different perspective from the ground level, but then, with the drone just go up, shoot straight down. I don't personally mind drones. Obviously, a few people have flown 'em into the grand prismatic spraying. They've crashed them into buildings. They've injured people and it's usually the people that don't have licenses, that don't know what they're doing that, kind of, wreck it for the rest of us, but, I think, at a certain point, drones are going to find their proper place. I think working professionally and knowing how to fly it, getting a license is the way forward, but, there's still a lot of movement on that. It's still a new industry. There's a disjunct on the number of people that own them that can properly fly 'em and when that's settled down, it's just going to be, yet, another tool at our device and certainly, with film crews telling a story, you can't, we don't have the budget to use helicopters all the time. I mean, they're so extraordinarily expensive, but, look at that point of view you could never do with a helicopter. So, it really is a great device. It's a great tool. It's just got to be used wisely and discretely and when I was up on the volcano, I was working with a friend of mine. It was a combination of my shooting stills like this, or video from the tripod and him flying the drone over the top of this volcano at 11,000 feet and it just captures the motion of the moment, the mystery of being on the edge of the world's largest crater lake. All that is conveyed more effectively using this technology. So, there's another thing that we use beyond the drones and that's Drobi's or I don't know what the other people call it but, the crew from Sydney were calling 'em Drobi's. I'll let this finish. Pretty cool place, huh? Both, cool but, also, cool. It was freezing. We're on the equator. We're bundled up in down jackets, hats, gloves on the equator, but, we're freezing. Oh, look at the heart. Look at the heart in that shot. Yeah, and a body. I love taking pictures. I mean, you can feel it in my presentation. So, yeah, forty years on and just as excited about going to these places as I ever was and drones, you know, have allowed us to, kind of, abstract cultures and see things that we would not normally see. These are photographed above the polar bears, but, then, there's, it's also a great tool for finding subjects because if you're in Africa or places that are remote, non-national parks, it's hard to gain access or know what's out there and so, here I'm using drone's to find the subjects that we would later walk up on foot to find. So, it's a way of seeing eye in the sky, to find where the subjects are, to get into places and to shoot angles that you could never do with an intrusive helicopter and in this particular case, there's no other way I could ever think of photographing Nile crocodiles that are extraordinarily aggressive and big. How would you get a shot of this. There's no way. If you walked up on it and shot, you'd be dead. The helicopter, they would be long gone. So, the drone is the only way to photograph this and then, there's that Drobi I was talking about. We're gonna put this camera on this little device and put it on the ground and we had permission, I mean, you can't just walk into a national park and use these devices, you have to gain permissions and pay fees for photographing in national parks, but, it was a great way of finding and photographing lions from a different perspective. Unfortunately, these lion cubs just found it as a big toy and they basically, annihilated the camera and the drone. Hardly afraid of what was coming and so, yeah and it was like four lionesses with a bunch of cubs and they absolutely loved this camera to death, I should say. Chewing on it, biting it, but, these were the perspectives to shoot with a 20 wide angle from that little device. You know, I'm always looking for new ways to tell old stories and so, I'm going to embrace this technology because I love seeing new perspectives from other photographers and I love to provide 'em myself. And, that's at the end of it. Okay, we had to give up the camera. (laughs) And, that lion tossed it in the air and that truly was the end of it.

Class Description

Photography is more than just a click of the shutter as it can create a statement or evoke a feeling and thus becomes a powerful art form. Internationally acclaimed photographer, artist and educator Art Wolfe joins CreativeLive to teach creative professionals how to see and make art in exciting new ways. 

In this class Art will share:

  • How to maximize photographic opportunities while traveling to unique and beautiful photographic destinations.
  • The best ways to take those special images efficiently. 
  • His favorite technological advances and how he uses them to enhance his creative vision. 
As a special segment, Art will preview how knowledge of art history provides a creative foundation and show students how to apply these principles to enhance their own compositions. He will also include a live critique of student images and, using Adobe® Lightroom® CC, will guide students through the editing process to transform the images into stronger artistic statements.



Thank you, Art Wolfe and Creative Live for this outstanding and astounding invitation to open my eyes and mind to a new way of thinking based on classic elements of design. This set of video lectures is a rich feast for the brain and heart willing to consider change. Art explains the elements of design such as texture, line, etc., and then shows how he has applied those basic principles. He explores metaphor, ambiguity, graphic design and negative/positive space--all with eye-popping examples. Wolfe takes us through the galleries of the Impressionists, Abstractionists, and Pop Artists to show how visiting our local art museums with a photographers eye can teach us to see in new ways. I love the way he shows, for example, a Mondrian or a Jackson Pollack or a Hokusai painting and then segues beautifully into examples of his own work inspired by those greats. Never does Art lose sight of the mission he has in this series, which is to inspire serious-hearted photographers to rise to new visual heights in their own work. He has a way of seeming to say, "Look. If I can do it, you can do it. Here are my secrets--let me break them down for you." To me, it was a privilege to take this class--my brain is exploding, and I'm itching to get out and shoot! Thank you so much, Art Wolfe and the Creative Live team--you are both amazing! Sandy Brown Jensen Eugene, Oregon

JIll C.

After watching Art Wolfe's presentation for just a short while, I have an almost irresistible urge to pick up my camera and get out into the world to look for the abstracts that can make stunning images. His body of work is simply stunning, and his verbal patter is mesmerizing. He proposes to find beauty in decay, and to train our eyes to see what others overlook. This is not a technical class, and there is no discussion of gear or camera settings. I found it very inspiring, and his ideas will surely help me to overcome the lethargy that has overcome my photography hobby.


Wonderful lecture with tips and tricks of how he shoots, what gear he uses, suggestions for comp, and samples of how he processes a RAW file in LR. Art was just as awesome as I had heard he was in person. I'm a professional photographer and definitely came away with many new tips, perspectives and inspiration to see your image differently and to look closer at the less obvious scene. Thank you Art for sharing your talent, its so very much appreciated!!