Aldryn Estacio’s obsession with aerial drone photography has spread to his three-year-old son who’s starting to get in on the action. Don’t rush to judgment or duck-and-cover just yet. Estacio isn’t letting his son pilot any of the six aerial vehicles he uses to take gorgeous bird’s-eye pictures of San Diego over the past two years.
“He has his own mini one,” says Estacio. “He’s there enough for him to keep smashing the small drone into the ceiling.”
Photo by Seth Combs
Estacio is more than aware of the debates surrounding drones. It’s become all too common to hear about some idiot flying one into a building (or the White House, for that matter) or using one to spy on neighbors. At the highest levels, they can be used to drop bombs. At the lowest, they’re just annoying and, even then, still potentially dangerous. Estacio thinks the media gives drones a bad rep, but agrees that not everyone should own a drone even when, as more companies get into the market, prices for them are dropping.
“What’s out there making the news is, of course, the bad stuff,” says the San Diego native, adding that most people who use drones do so responsibly. “It takes practice and people should take a class if they’re planning on flying them commercially. They should probably have liability insurance and things like that, but people need to understand just how powerful these things can be.”
While most people might be unfamiliar with Estacio’s fine-art photography, they’ve likely seen his video work. An aerial video he shot of the San Diego coast can be seen every weekday morning on San Diego 6 News. While he used to construct the drones himself, he’s built up enough of a reputation that companies like EZDrone and DJI now sponsor him. And he just self-published a coffee table book of his pictures titled San Diego: A Collection of Original Fine Art Aerial Drone Photography .
“It’s reopened my eyes up to a lot of different places and things,” says Estacio, who wants to eventually release another book of photos of the entire California coast. “Everyone knows the same places in San Diego, the same spots. With drones, you’re seeing stuff that you’ve known about for years but never saw or you’re seeing it in a whole new way. I’m always rediscovering my own city, which is awesome.”