From Wedding Photographer to Drone Service Provider: UAV Studio - COPTRZ

From Wedding Photographer to Drone Service Provider: UAV Studio

Beth Jackson

1:23 pm GMT •

April 06, 2021

Using the Pandemic to Kickstart your Career with Drones 

When the Coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, it left many people jobless and looking to retrain in other industries. The drone sector is reported to have grown by 25% since the pandemic began. If you are looking to see how Coptrz can help you become a drone service provider, look no further than this blog.

With drones becoming involved in the public response to the pandemic, drone companies were able to highlight their value. More and more people are latching onto the potential of drone technology, and taking the jump to introduce the technology into daily operations.

This week, we spoke to Alex Lester, a wedding photographer who’s business was hit by Covid. Alex took this as the push to take the plunge and start his own drone surveying company, UAV Studio. Alex used lockdown to train with Coptrz Academy and complete our drone surveying course.

Coptrz Academy is proud to have been able to offer full support to students throughout the pandemic, by making drone training available online with access to industry experts at the end of the phone. We are also the only drone training provider in the UK to offer OFQUAL accredited training.

Our industry expert for Starting a Drone Business, Jamie Cording, hosts weekly YouTube lives where he tells you all you need to know about how to be your own boss in 2021. If you want to find out more, you can set your reminder here. You can see Jamie’s top tips for becoming a drone service provider here:

If you want to stand out from the crowd, why not join our alumni of successful drone pilots today? Click here to find out more.

Only Coptrz Academy provides monthly A2 CofC accelerator sessions with our team of UAV experts, Drone Regulation Q&A’s and live weekly Drone Talk’s with Jamie Cording. On top of that, we’re the first and only training provider that allows you to sit your A2 CofC exam 24/7. Sound good? We know, sign up to start your course today.

From wedding photographer to Drone Service Provider: Meet Coptrz Academy Alumni Alex Lester

Alex Lester, Founder of UAV Studio

UAV Studio provides aerial thermography, surveying, photography and inspections across the UK. Founded by Alex Lester in 2020, Alex trained at Coptrz Academy to get Category 1 certification, giving him the knowledge and confidence to start his own business as a drone service provider.

Not only that, it is worth noting that Alex used the pandemic to turn his career around completely. Before Covid, Alex was running a successful photography and videography company, Studio Lester. Alex decided to upskill and retrain to provide a different kind of drone service to his customers, while still maintaining Studio Lester. We spoke with Alex to find out the journey behind UAV Studio and to see how Coptrz Academy helped in the process.

How did you get into using drones? How long have you been using them?

“When I was a kid my dad and I used to fly model gliders together, so I guess RC flight is something I’ve always had some interest in. Drones didn’t really enter the equation until a few years ago though, and this only really came about as a result of my small media business, Studio Lester, and my desire to add aerial videography and photography to our existing line up of products and services.

“Before lockdown, around a third of my income came from wedding videography gigs – and if there’s one thing a good wedding film needs, it’s some solid drone footage. I started out using a Mavic Air back in 2018 before upgrading to the Phantom 4 Pro V2 a year later.

“Prior to the introduction of the A2 CofC, using a drone for commercial gigs required a PfCO – so in September 2018 I took a four day course followed by a flight test, and have held Operational Authorisation for VLOS drone operations from the CAA ever since.”

How has your wedding photography business coped during the pandemic?

“Running a photography and videography business – especially one that’s tightly bound to the wedding industry – has been no picnic over the past twelve months, as you might imagine. Thankfully my business is set up to be as agile as possible, with limited overheads making it slightly easier to pivot when necessary.

“Part of this pivoting process led to the creation of UAV Studio – a start-up business providing aerial inspections, surveying and thermography to clients across the UK.

“This is something I’d always wanted to do but was previously way too busy to explore – so I guess I have lockdown to thank for providing me with both the time and headspace to build this new exciting venture.”

What drones are you currently using as a drone service provider?

“I still use the Phantom 4 Pro V2 for videography and photography gigs due to its impressive 1” sensor. Being able to shoot in 4K at 60fps is also a real bonus, allowing me to capture those all important slow motion shots for both my wedding and corporate clients.

“We’ve also recently ordered the new Mavic 2 Enterprise Advanced – something that’s going to help me to take UAV Studio’s thermal imaging and surveying capabilities to the next level. This drone has a tonne of amazing features but as far as I’m concerned, there are two things that really stand out.

“First is its amazing thermal sensor, which at 640 x 512px, blows its predecessor on the Mavic Enterprise Dual out of the water. Second is the RTK module which enables centimetre-level positioning accuracy – negating the need for ground control points in a survey. This really helps to save time on photogrammetry projects, which in turn helps our clients save money.”

How is UAV Studio going?

“Although it’s early days there has been a lot of interest in UAV Studio, with clients across the UK keen to learn more about the professional drone services we offer.

“I’ve also been reaching out to businesses in the local area to see whether they’d be interested in using UAV Studio’s services as a whitelabelled product, with a number of large companies keen to team up.

“Offering things like aerial thermography, inspections and surveys as a whitelabelled service works really well as it allows businesses to expand their existing product offering, without them having to invest in any training or expensive kit. Instead, they can market one of our services as their own, outsource the work to UAV Studio, and skim a profit once the work is done.”

Solar Panel Thermal Image

What advice would you give to someone who is wanting to become a drone service provider?

“I think it’s really important for people to follow their own compass. Everyone has an opinion about everything these days – especially on the internet – and if you can filter out the noise and drive to the heart of what it is you want to do, you’ll be much better placed than those who aimlessly follow the the latest trend.”

What are your future plans for using drones? Have you got your eye on any other drones at the minute?

“Right now I am fully focussed on delivering the best job possible for our clients and building UAV Studio into something special. In the long term, I’d really like to build on the success we’re seeing with our surveying and thermography services – and definitely wouldn’t say no if someone offered us a Wingtra to help deliver those bigger surveying jobs!”

Finally, tell us about your experience working with Coptrz?

“Up until launching UAV Studio, my priority had been to learn as much as possible and in that regard COPTRZ played a really important role. In the past few months I’ve completed a professional surveying course and have also obtained Category 1 Certification to carry-out thermographic inspections – both through COPTRZ.

The surveying course will equip you with the skills you need to introduce a drone solution into your workflows. Our industry expert, James Pick, who is a surveyor by trade, has created the package with surveyors in mind to take your surveys to the next level. It is also worth noting that this is the only package that will give you an RTK License as well as the drone. Meaning you will be able to start collecting RTK Quality Data as soon as possible. You can find out more about the ultimate surveying package here.

“These courses have given me the skills and confidence to market UAV Studio as a standalone business, and I can’t wait to see how far the business can go over the next decade or so.

“Jamie Cording’s knowledge has been invaluable to me throughout my training at Coptrz. The support you get from the team is second to none.”

Want to discuss how you can become a drone service provider?

Jamie Cording, Start a Drone Business expert

Our start a drone business expert, Jamie Cording, is ready to discuss your requirements and help you to build a drone strategy that fits your budget and can demonstrate the applications at your site. We can build bespoke solutions including the training, hardware and software needed to introduce a drone team to your business.

If you want to find out more about how you can become a drone service provider, you can contact our industry expert Jamie Cording today.

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