On the subject of digital, Éric Dupin is a walking encyclopedia. If you take all his cyber know-how and set it aloft to take aerial photos, well, the sky’s the limit! The founder of dronestagram sat down with us to talk about flight and new tech.
Orange Pop: How did you know drones and aerial photography was the next big thing?
Éric Dupin: I’m very interested in new technologies, and much of my other job, Presse-Citron blogger, is devoted to this. On a personal level, I’ve always liked gadgets and digital devices. The first remote-controlled helicopters arrived on the market in 2008 and could fit in the palm of your hand. I knew this technology would literally take off when they added embedded cameras to the aircraft. And that’s what got me into drones.
As far as technology and its uses, I immediately saw the connection between drones and the smartphones of the early 2000s; at first, only the geeks go for them, but sooner or later the general public hops on board and everyone’s got one. In the last two years the same thing has happened for drones. I realized that with an array of high-performance machines on the market, it’s now possible for everyone to take really unusual photos. On-board cameras allow for close-up photography of generally inaccessible views. The close-up and the wide-angle panorama are the two major assets of drone photography.
Other uses will be adopted by the general public, like dronies, selfies taken from above. Already available, these flying machines can be remotely controlled by your smartphone, which can also display the image the drone camera’s viewfinder is “seeing,” to check the photo before clicking.
O. Pop: You organized the Dronestagram Photo Contest in collaboration with National Geographic, a magazine that often leverages the beautiful (those gorgeous images of nature) for worthy causes (environmental protection).
ED: The first year Dronestagram was operational, we wondered how to attract more visitors to our site. We came up with the idea of a photo contest, but that meant partnering with an international heavyweight in the photo business. National Geographic loved the idea. It provided the magazine with unusual and beautiful photos for their magazine and provided us with a high-visibility contest.
The contest took place in the spring of 2014. This year, we are aiming to get tens of thousands of entrants, both drone professionals and amateurs. At a reasonable cost, anyone can take some pretty eye-popping snaps.
One of our slogans is, “Some want to change the world. We simply want to change the way people look at the world.” For example, you can get up close and personal with the earth’s flora and fauna without being invasive. Drones are discreet and can’t be heard or seen from 30 or more meters away, so they don’t frighten animals. That said, more and more parks in the USA are outlawing drones in their airspace.
O. Pop: Are you considering extending the reach of dronestagram to other platforms?
ED: This spring we’re releasing a book entitled Dronestagram, published by a prestigious English art-book house. It’ll contain the 200 or 300 most beautiful photos on our site and will be available in English, German, Dutch, and French.
We’re also raising funds to develop a smartphone app that would enable users to upload photos and videos directly from the drone to the dronestagram site and to social media. The idea is to anticipate and prepare for the sector’s full potential, i.e. for the new generation of superlight drones, better quality cameras, tightened security, and enhanced-reality options. This is just the beginning; unimaginable wonders await.