Meet Serena Coady, the founder and curator of Drone Girls, the online community for female drone photographers.
Since the drones have become easily accessible and more affordable, we have seen the rise of drone photography internationally. Thousands and thousands of fascinating birds-eye view images are being shared every day on the Internet. While flying drone is a male-dominated field, especially if we look at how leading ventures heavily skewed their marketing campaigns toward male consumers, the number of female drone pilots and photographers are on the rise. More and more female drone photographers have made the name for themselves and are thriving in their own creative niche.
As a drone photographer herself, Serena Coady sees it is a challenge for the industry to recognize female talents when they are not being bought into focus. For her, this comes down to the lack of representation, and from here Drone Girls was born—the Instagram community with the goal of giving voice to amazing female drone photographers and their works.
We talked to Serena about the journey of creating Drone Girls and the future of the industry.
Could you tell us a little more about yourself?
I’m Serena Coady, a 24-year-old aerial photographer and writer from Australia. I’m committed to the advancement of women, particularly in the creative world, and I’m also a bit of a drone nerd. Mix these together and out comes Drone Girls. While I run Drone Girls myself, there are seven other women who contribute their stories and images when we receive media requests. Our community is small for now, but with our collective ambition, raw talent and fierce support of one another, Drone Girls will only continue to grow. Sky-high, baby!
What are the goals of Drone Girls? What are you aiming to achieve?
I created Drone Girls as I was frustrated with by the lack of representation female drone operators received across social media. One slow morning, I crunched the numbers and found that the major drone accounts on Instagram only featured women 3-5% of the time, which is bonkers considering there’s billions of us out there. And talented ones, at that.
The aim of Drone Girls is to highlight the talents of women who drone, as well as shift public perceptions of what a typical drone user looks like. It’s not always a dude. It’s not always a stereotypical tech geek. Ultimately, I want to bring more women to the industry because I see droning as a creative outlet and an empowering skill of the future. This can’t happen if there are no role models in the droning world for women to relate to.
This is also why I’ve also created the #FemaleDronerFriday story series on my @DroneGirls_ platform, it gives a voice to these women and their art, thus paving the way for other women to do the same. The messages I receive about other women trying droning for the first time, all because of @DroneGirls_, has made this really worthwhile.
What are some of your favorite aspects of drones?
I love the freedom of being able to experience parts of the world from entirely new angles. Drones offer a different perspective to other photographic equipment, and the opportunities this opens up, particularly when traveling, never fail to break me out into a terrifyingly blissful grin.
There’s nothing quite like sending your drone out to sea during a vivid sunrise or peeking it out over the mouth of a roaring waterfall. Anyway, enough fawning over drones as if they were my summer lover. Next question, please!
Since drone industry is male-dominated, what advice would you give to aspiring female droners out there?
The drone industry certainly is male-dominated, but that means as a woman you’ve got an opportunity to be unique and make your mark. My advice is to first practice flying in a safe space, regularly look to other photographers for inspiration, try shooting different locations as your confidence grows and you’ll eventually pick up your signature style of aerial photography. Developing your own aesthetic is important as a woman in a male-dominated industry as it helps forge your own niche, which is vital in a marketplace that’s now starting to surge.
My other bit of advice is to SHARE. Get your content out there and work the brand, kid! Even if your initial shots look like they were captured from a GoPro stuck to a lost bird’s claw, upload that shit. This is key to improving your droning. You can never go forward if you don’t know where you came from, which is probably what that lost bird is thinking right about now.
Ultimately, I want to bring more women to the industry because I see droning as a creative outlet and an empowering skill of the future. This can’t happen if there are no role models in the droning world for women to relate to.
What do you think is the future of drones?
As drones rapidly become more affordable, accessible and compact, I’m both excited and concerned. I’m keen for technological advancements in the field of UAVs and the new perspectives this will lend to people all over the world, but the increasingly widespread use of drones raises concerns about personal safety and that of others, privacy, noise, and national security. In that respect, the future of drones needs to incorporate more regulation, as well as comprehensive training for beginners.
Either way, I have good word that in the future we’ll be living as computer chips and racing each other in hovering cars, so it shouldn’t be too hard for people to learn how to drone.
Serena Coady is a 24-year-old writer and aerial photographer based in Canberra, Australia. While she loves using Google Satellite to stalk new locations to photograph from above, for her, nothing quite beats being on the open road, finding new discoveries on her own. Visit Drone Girls, Serena’s personal Instagram, or Cherrydeck profile to see more of her work, here. ?