In 2013, Eric Dupin founded Dronestagram, an online platform where drone photographers can share their work. This month, Thames & Hudson publishes Dronescapes: The New Aerial Photography from Dronestagram, a book of images from the site and a sign of the growing interest in the technology. The book includes more than 250 images made by amateurs and professionals from around the world, members of the Dronestagram community who photograph placid landscapes, sports events, iconic tourist spots and curious or bewildered animals from the air. The book is divided in to sections that include “Drones Are Us,” in which drones are used “for playful and humorous effect,” Ayperi Karabuda Ecer writes in an essay in the book. For instance, in one image, participants in a drone workshop lay on their bellies in the dust, posing as if flying through the air with their drones in hand. Other sections highlight images that get up close and “provide unprecedented angles” of monuments such as Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer or the Statue of Liberty, or focus on patterns visible from above, such as rows of red chilies in a field in India, or the pastel colors of an Italian salt marsh. The largest section of the book is devoted to “awe-inspiring shots” of the landscape, such as a view following a dramatic waterfall into a steep ravine on the island of Réunion, or a harrowing shot of a truck driving on a road carved into the side of a mountain in the French Alps.
The book can also be seen as a record of what Ecer calls “the Wild West of drone photography,” which is, she writes, “slowly diminishing.” She notes that some of the images are made in locations that are currently unregulated, and “benefit from the current legal void around drone access.” Changes in the laws in many areas might soon make some images impossible to recreate. But for now, Dronescapes is “a comprehensive survey of what the label ‘popular drone photography’ might encompass.”