We recently had the pleasure of speaking (Facebook Messenger) with some people who’ve taken DJI’s Aerial Photography Academy. It’s a one-day crash course for those looking to get the most out of their aerial photography. The event is officially sanctioned by DJI and is run by two well-known pros, Stacy Garlington and Randy Jay Braun – both of whom have made previous appearances here on TDC.

The course offers both photography tips and post-processing tutorials, giving attendees a chance to both learn and strengthen skills. The instructors also include some great information on Part 107, the FAA regulation governing commercial drone flight in the United States.

Several attendees told TDC about their experiences with the Academy.

“I have been an amateur photographer for most of my life,” says Nick Smith, who took the class in Columbus, Ohio.

“This course helped me improve my skills with drone photography by helping with how to frame photos, different photo techniques to use, how to use your app to make sure you get the photo so it’s at the right exposure, and some post-processing techniques and tricks I was not aware of to make them pop.”

Nick even shared some pictures he did before and after the course to show how he had improved in his use of post-effects.

One of Nick’s “before” shots. Already some good potential here…

…and here’s an “after” shot. Not how he’s used the branches and leaves in the foreground, as well as the lighting and path, to give the viewer an impression of both depth and serenity

“The course is a fantastic comprehensive course for people just starting out with camera drones, looking into what you need to get a Part 107 in the USA, as well as how to edit photos with post-editing software like Lightroom,” he says.

“This course is very intensive but great for all the knowledge you will come out with. I applied some it (post-processing techniques/software) as soon as I got home to some older photos with great results.” 

Nick adds that passing the Part 107 exam last year has allowed him to take on commercial jobs like photography of real estate as well as using drones to check out family farms to see where crops are not growing.

“For the price ($159 to $189 USD) and to be able to hear from and talk directly to two of the experts in a small, classroom-type setting is great with this course. Be prepared to learn, take away knowledge that will last a lifetime, and make new friends!”


In Indianapolis, Kevin Shook also took the Academy plunge; a complete novice to the field, with a recently purchased DJI Mavic Pro. 

“I’m a newbie, (but) I felt like an ‘intermediate’ working my way to ‘advanced’. I would’ve paid double for a second day (covering) over Adobe Photoshop. I would highly recommend it to anyone from hobbyist to professional but the single most important thing is the power of post-processing.”

One of Kevin’s “before” photos…

….and a cropped and enhanced image, following a day with Randy and Stacy

“They just instilled a lot of passionate enthusiasm that encouraged me to be an opportunist with this,” says Kevin.

Don Ingli was another attendee of the class who spoke about how learning the basics of photography as well as post-processing techniques really improved his shots.

“They go over quite a bit of information from photography 101 to showing some advanced post-

processing techniques. Also many recommendations on properly setting up the DJI app for best results.”

Scott Graser also sent me pictures on how his pictures improved greatly after the Academy.

Check it out. Here’s the “before” version…

And here’s the “after.” Quite a difference!

And here’s another example from the same photographer. The difference is, well, clear. Yes, the pond looks good in the “before” version…

But wow, the “after” is gorgeous.

See the difference? Of course you do.

The biggest reason people buy drones, aside from thrill of seeing the earth from a new perspective, is to *capture* that perspective with stills and video. And while some people, especially pro photographers, already have the basics nailed – there are many drone pilots who need help when it comes to maximizing their aerial photography and learning how to take over more manual creative control.

Based on what we heard from students, the academy was the *perfect* opportunity to learn (and hone) skills.

To find out where the academy will be next and book a class, click here.