Dronies! The Newest Form of Self-Indulgent Photography


If you’ve been keeping up with the latest trends in “drone photography”, you must surely have discovered a new trend from earlier this year known simply as “dronies,” because exciting new forms of photography must invariably end up being used to film ourselves.

For those that haven’t heard of dronies, the concept is this: go to some place awesome, get your drone out, point it at yourself, then record yourself as the drone slowly (or quickly) flies away from you, revealing the awesome place you’re in. Vimeo already has a channel devoted to it, with some admittedly cool videos posted. Here’s one of my personal favorites, which goes from a seemingly normal outdoor locale to a beautiful, much larger shot of the Columbia River Gorge.

Columbia River Gorge Dronie from Dirk Dallas on Vimeo.

Now while it may be easy to make fun of both the act of taking a dronie (something about narcissism, ‘cause that’s a word we all know) and the name itself (which may have taken all of two seconds to conjure up), the dronie still has value to photographers and videographers alike. I know selfies get a bad rap because they’re often used to show off a new outfit or the not-so impressive progress of your current workout plan, they also are used to show that yes, you went to a cool place with a friend, but no, you didn’t want to bother asking a stranger to take an inevitably out-of-focus, half-covered-by-a-thumb picture of you at that cool place.

Enter the dronie. You’ve discovered some sweet camping spot or climbed some mountain with an impressive view, but want to really show how sweet and/or impressive that place is while still proving that yes, you were there. This may feel like narcissism, but what pictures do we treasure most when looking back at old family/friend photos: the ones simply showing the landscape (however beautiful it may be) or the ones with you and others standing in front of that landscape?

A recent article from tech video maker Adam Lisagor (of Sandwich Video) explained the phenomenon best:

“There’s a reason that you’re going to see a lot of these from drone flyers like me, and it’s this: once you get past the novelty of taking a camera high up in the air, getting a bird’s eye view of stuff is actually a little boring.

“What birds see is actually a little boring. Humans are interesting. Getting close to stuff is interesting. I bet if we could strap tiny cameras to bird heads, most of what we’d want to look at would happen when they fly close to people. If we could, we’d put cameras on bird heads to take pictures of ourselves.”

As we still discover the best ways to utilize this new technology known as aerial photography, we may continue to learn what people find most interesting. Beautiful aerials are impressive and there’s a lot of mileage to come out of it, but seeing the contrast between people and the natural world around them is perhaps even more impressive than the simple bird’s-eye-view. Take this video for example:

Floating from Florian Fischer on Vimeo.

What could’ve just been a simple (boring) shot of some beautiful water, is now a vertigo-inducing shot of a man floating in a vast body of water, dwarfing him to the point of not even being able to see him floating at all when the camera is at its farthest point.

While we may scoff at dronies being dubbed “the new selfie” by outlets such as TIME Magazine, one can’t ignore the potential dronies have for drone videography. So go ahead, point the drone at yourself, fly it around, post it online, share it with your friends. Just remember to check your battery.

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  • Jonathan B
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