Why drone photography is SCAM

While doing a lot of research and always keeping an open eye for drone photography techniques, subscribing channels on youtube which contain drone movies on traveling, I realized that yes, drone photos or movies look awesome, unique and show perspectives which have never caught on camera by anyone before. Travel photography with a drone is no man's land! The flat photography has been done for over a hundred years, and there is almost no square mile on the planet anymore that hasn't been captured or documented by some photographer from the bottom.

5 Reasons why drone photography is fooling us

Photography 100+ years ago
Drone photography brings a new dimension to the party and this party has now started for every traveler, no matter where they are coming from or what experience in photography they have. Almost every footage with a drone is fantastic to watch and every amateur easily can make professional footage. I don't blame anyone for this and yes, I find it is even a great hobby, it makes fun and entertains viewers in a new level.

And that's why I wanted to own a drone by myself too. To have unique footage, unique photos. Recordings that are so easy to make and almost guaranteed, never have been made before by someone else. Every drone pilot can easily become a discoverer, a pioneer, this is the exploration of the world in the 21 century, and everybody with a drone can become a new Christopher Columbus.

But why am I saying then it is a problem or is making unhappy? 

Reason 1 -  Drone photography is scamming the human brain

What I'm basically saying is that drone photography is like cheating. It's fraud. We basically are scamming ourselves with it.

Travel footage made with drones show us a planet from a perspective which we cannot see with our biological eyes, we only can experience it with via a screen, except we own a helicopter. It's not a real experience. Yes, it is great to look at it but these views we are never going to see when traveling without a drone and not looking through a screen.

Drone photography is 3rd person experience
It like playing a video game, it's not a real experience, it's not an experience captured with the own body and eyes,  and doesn't affect our senses in a way it would while experiencing with own eyes. It's not a real-time first-person experience, it doesn't give us the same astonishing "aha" effects as when seeing the view with our own eyes in real.

And with this unreal experiences its like we are cheating our brain and our memories. We start thinking in a 3rd person perspective and slowly start training our brain and memory to make these astonishing views from above as the new standard of "must have "-"seen that" experience.

It changes how we experience the world.
The problem surfaces when our brain has an expectation about something and it doesn't get satisfied up to the expectation. What then happens is, it basically tells us not being satisfied and it stops triggering endorphins and this automatically causes that the human individual feels not happy or enthusiastic about the situation. We get a little disappointed - the experience wasn't satisfactory.

Reason 2 - They're Raising expectations to the highest degree

The problem may sound ridiculous, but stretching this topic a little further to the point that maybe yes we realize that we cheating ourselves when doing these 3rd person footages but we do it simply for ourselves under the realization that it's not the real world, just for fun, like a hobby of course.

However, when we doing it just for ourselves and by ourselves then it may be to not causing such negative consequences.

But the normal consumer soon will more and more often be confronted with drone photos and videos from other fellow travelers and it becomes standard on youtube and other sources that deliver the content which will also be used by advertisement, marketing and by travel agencies. The result will be new standards and expectations for the individual before going on vacation.

The scenery didn't exist in real

It was just a few days ago when I was in Tbilisi in Georgia and asked in the hotel about some things to see further out of Tbilisi city center. She went behind the curtain and brought a brochure with nice descriptions and some of them immediately got me. I clarified all the details on how to get there and so on and how this photos in the brochure are made, from where, which position and so on. Cause I wanted to have the same view.

I was looking for this lookout - it didn't exist
The next day I went to that site, it was upon a mountain after a 30 minutes bus ride and 20 minutes walk. Unfortunately, that point of view to have that scenery simply wasn't able to find and even after trying to figuring out where to go to have the same scenery, it soon didn't make sense anymore to continue searching cause I soon realized, these photos in the brochure were made with a drone. Of course, now it makes sense, I recognized also immediately on which point the drone must have been flying to make that photo and it was definitely impossible to go there as a person and see it with own eyes (again, except having a helicopter).

Negative effect

I noticed how I felt a little upset about it not seeing the view as I expected to see as it was in the description and in the photos of the brochure. I realized that my expectation about this excursion to this site was much higher, I wanted to see what I expected to see. Unfortunately these expectations will never ever be possible to fulfill, except, when buying a drone, flying it from a coffee shop nearby, not doing one step out in the dirt, not wasting any energy and not starting to sweat from walking... then I simply start the drone and will have view as I expected it to have, but through a display.


After this, I Intentionally went searching through travel agency sites on the internet and counted their photos in offerings made with drones in relation to photos made traditionally, with a normal camera. I went through different agencies websites which are located in different areas of the world, but the result basically was always the same. Photos of beautiful beaches, mountains, and photos of cities made with drones are simply catching my eyes and interest much more than the ones made the traditional way from the bottom without drones.

 Is it just a first world problem?

Elephants captured with a drone. Looks much better than from the bottom.
A drone Namibia looks better than non-Drone Namibia.

In case I would be someone who buys travels through agencies, I probably intuitively would prefer going to (for example) Namibia on a trip which was offered in a proposal with beautiful drone photos, rather than to a Namibia trip from a proposal that contained non-drone photos. It just looks more appealing and eye-catching. And no, it was not about the quality of the image itself, they all have been made with high-class technical equipment and looked fantastic, but compared to the non-drone photos, the drone photos were immediately raising my expectation and interest - even these are essentially the same places in the offering and the same activities provided.

Expectation and reality

What I'm saying with all this is, that when the drone-photo Namibia Advertisement got me more than the non-drone ad, I'm sure I'm not the only one with such an instinctive behaviour and the customer who bought the journey, probably goes to Namibia with the expectation of seeing the scenery as it was burned into memory back of the head, from an elevated point of view, right behind the horde of elephants or with the magnificent beach around the atolls of the Maldives which looks way better from a little bit an elevated point of view than from standing in the white sandy beach. The individual will arrive but will never see the same scenery as being sold within the proposal.

The hype almost made me buy a drone

Just some days ago I was almost ordering one of these small high-tech lightweight drones with a brand from the current leader in the drone market.

Especially in the last few months I noticed more and more videos about travel on youtube, which were fully or partly recorded with drones and I was realizing how the urge to follow this trend got me more and more and finally, in the last weeks I was convinced that making photos or movies with drones are probably soon a minimum requirement, if I want someone on the internet taking a look at my pictures out of their free will.

Combined with the planned vacation that will lead me somewhere into the Pacific to some island countries, I thought I have to take advantage of this opportunity and create fresh content from the air and document the scenery of these islands from above. And that brings the fourth reason why to hate drones.

Reason 4 -  A drone requires SACRIFICES

Small lightweight drone

It uses up luggage and makes it heavy

After doing all the research and as already mentioned, finally buying one of these cool machines, I was wondering if I even have enough space or weight allowance to carry a drone in my baggage. Especially as I will travel only with hand luggage, there is a limit between 7 and 10 kilograms. Means, I have to focus on a target weight of about 7-8 kilograms in total inclusive the baggage. That circumstance forced me to test pack and weigh the whole stuff and the result of this was that I don't have enough space in the luggage and also the weight is already too much without a drone of 300-400 grams.

Somehow I'm glad I did this procedure, even I'm sad that I now have to forget my idea of buying a drone for the next upcoming vacation.

It is not cheap

Drones are getting cheaper and cheaper but at the end, it doesn't matter how cheap it is going to be. For the same amount of cash, you always get the same amount of up-to-date performance to satisfy the followers or the people who are potential watchers of the footage.

The footage that will be seen and gets all the fresh likes on youtube are in average the videos that are done by new drones or actual drone models, which have been on the market not for too long. A two-year-old drone might still be good, but compared to the new ones it clearly will contain poorer quality in the video than with the newer ones, and that leads to the fact that videos made with older drones don't get watched. Following this, it requires the drone pilot to regularly update the drone model for having a chance and being seen on youtube.

Reason 5 - Drones cause stress

This reason is probably the least obvious but its the most severe of all. Everyone has read articles on the internet that stress leads to sickness in different kinds up until to death.

Preparation of everything

A drone pilot is constantly under stress and it even is worse when being in the field recording actual footage. The drone pilot is prone to stress when it comes to planning for the recording, especially when it's going to be in a place abroad somewhere on vacation. The pilot doesn't know the new place and has to plan not only for the surrounding that needs to be recorded by the drone but also for the whole equipment. Is there enough power for the batteries? Is there a restaurant nearby where I can charge the battery? Is it allowed to fly a drone there? What if it crashes, how can I get it, do I need swimming trunks for getting it back? All these and many more questions will the drone pilot have to face and prepare for.

When going on a vacation there is usually already enough planning to think about before actually going on the trip. So with a drone, it almost doubles the effort of planning.

During vacation

Then it continues while being on the vacation and doing the recording. A nice place has been found to let the drone fly, the batteries are charged. Now its time to be in full concentration for recording and in no way make ANY mistake. Battery time is valuable and even more valuable is the drone itself, so under no circumstance make it crash! That doesn't just sound stressful, that IS stressful!


Next. Having all done, everything is recorded and maybe its already time to fly back home. Back home a lot of things wait to be done after vacation and work normally start already in a couple of days again. However, with so much drone footage its high time to start watching it and editing it to have the best 5 minutes out of the three-hour footage. So to create 5 minutes of final footage for youtube, there is so much effort to be done, and so much time is going on the budget of pre- and post maintaining around the drone and the footage, that I do really wonder if it is worth to put so much effort in to this and undergo such a huge amount of stress.

After complaining about drones, this is what I probably will do next...

Enough written and complained about how drones are manipulating the human's brain (or maybe just mine), but yes, I don't know if this drone trend is just a hype or if this indeed going to change our expectations when it comes towards new trips and maybe soon trips were sold, which can be done from back home with virtual reality glasses, provided with a remote controller to explore the remote islands.

Nevertheless, maybe I'm going to buy a drone anyway, cause maybe soon airlines will allow not only one piece of hand luggage and an umbrella, but also, in addition, a drone to take into the cabin of a plane. Who knows.

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