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Drone Photography: Outshine your Self Storage Competitors

June 21, 2018

StoragePug Help Series blog header.
4 min

Remote controlled Drones have been around for years.  These high-tech devices are perfect for highlighting the quality and security of your self storage.  

Using sweeping and dramatic angles, there is no replacement for the capabilities of your flying camera.

Simply launching your drone and pressing the shutter button isn’t enough to capture new business from your self storage website.   It takes professionals weeks of practice before they become proficient. With some tips we will outline below, I hope we can speed up that process.

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Rocky Hill Storage Drone Video from StoragePug on Vimeo.

StoragePug is a modern marketing company for self storage. We create intelligent marketing websites that allow you to rent units & take payments through your facility's website.

Proper self storage pre-flight planning

Perhaps the most important step is preparing for the shoot.  Check the weather forecast. Ensure there is little to no wind and of course no rain in the forecast.  Depending on the orientation of your self storage, the sun can present a problem. Decide at what time is best to fly.  

Shooting into the sun can create some creative lens flares, but will wash out the main subject. For video and photos of your property, typically you want the sun at your back.   An app like Sun Seeker can help you determine the best time to shoot at your location.  

Finally, the FAA regulates all aerial vehicles, including drones.  There are laws regarding where, when, and who can fly for commercial use.   While many skirt some of these laws, it’s important to know that the FAA has increased the frequency of fines they issue.


Time to capture your footage

You have finished your planning and now it’s time to execute.   Proper camera settings are important. Depending on what your camera offers, we recommend shooting with manual settings.   You should control all the variables. These include five settings for video.

Here are our recommendations for each.

  • Resolution: Always shoot at the largest resolution, sometimes as high as 4k
  • Frames per second: If capable, we recommend using 60 fps
  • Shutter speed:  Twice the fps, if using 60, shutter speed should be 120
  • ISO: Turn this down as low as possible, typically 100 or 200
  • Aperture:  The last thing we set is aperture to create proper exposure.  This number will vary on your circumstance. Expose for your subject.

While flying your drone the rule of thumb is fly slow.  Use steady and deliberate sweeping movements. To help execute this, many drones allow you to change the sensitivity of the controls, causing the drone to react slowly to your input.   Turn the sensitivity way down and this will help.

Fly high, fly low, and beside your subject.   Capture all angles of the self storage for your website.  If your drone offers any special automated controls such as way points or point of interest, take advantage of those.  They will help steady your camera and create a professional finish.


Edit your footage

Use your favorite editing program to make your video and photos look their best.   Use proper color correction and add a bit of sharpness to make everything look great.  Export your footage by compressing as much as you can, while maintain the quality of the image.  

The footage should be optimized for your website. Remember, your website needs to load fast to help with ranking and your user experience.

Here is a quick checklist for your Self Storage Flight.

  • Check the weather
  • Determine the best time of day to shoot
  • Check the legality of your flight location and time
  • Set your camera to manual and input your settings
    • Highest resolution
    • 60 fps if possible at the highest resolution
    • Shutter speed is twice your frame rate
    • ISO as low as possible
    • Set your aperture for proper exposure
  • Check your surroundings for obstacles like trees and power lines
  • Launch your drone
  • Use slow deliberate movements
  • Take many shots of the same things or movement
  • Edit your footage making sure to correct color
  • Compress and optimize as much as possible without losing visual quality

The goal is to increase exposure for your self storage.  If you feel your business could be better served by a professional, it might be a route to explore.  Professionals like J2 videos can use additional techniques like HDR photos and RAW video to increase dynamic range and make your footage look more realistic.   

Couple the drone footage with gimbal stabilized land based photos and video will give you the best results for self storage websites.


About the Author:

Tim Joseph is the owner of J2 Videos.  He has been in the photography and video industry for years.   He specializes in making small businesses improve their sales through quality visual media.