“Everyone is looking for that one great shot,” said Darcy Miller, the editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings. Although Ms. Miller has been to more weddings than most people, she admits that she has never seen a drone used at one — so far, anyway. “I’m sure everything changes every day with technology.”
Among photographers and videographers, however, drones and weddings are “a hot topic in the industry now,” said Denis Reggie, an Atlanta-based wedding photographer who decidedly has not bought into this technology. “We’ve seen so much information about drones, but they’re not sanctioned by the F.A.A. yet,” he said.
Brendan Schulman, a lawyer and special counsel at the law firm Kramer Levin in Manhattan, where he is a litigator with a specialty in unmanned aircraft systems, said: “This is the future of technology. It’s not like an airplane with passengers and fuel on board, and there are no safety issues.” Mr. Schulman, who has represented drone pilots in court when they have been challenged by the F.A.A., reports that Hollywood filmmakers had been using model airplanes for decades, and yet the agency had never issued guidelines.
That is until 1981, he said, when it did issue some, including recommending not flying higher than 400 feet or within three miles of an airport. And those were only voluntary, he noted. Then, in 2007, recognizing that businesses were going to be using the machines, the agency put out a “policy statement” about not using model aircraft for “commercial purposes.” But a policy statement is not a law, Mr. Schulman said.
Les Dorr, a spokesman for the F.A.A. disputes Mr. Schulman’s interpretation, saying: “The F.A.A. believes laws and regulations are the same thing. Under the 2012 F.A.A. law, you can fly a model aircraft for hobby or recreational purposes without authorization from the F.A.A. For any other reason, like commercial purposes, you need F.A.A. approval.”
This has sowed confusion among couples and their photographers about using drones at weddings. Nevertheless, the agency and many of the professional photographers who are choosing to add drones to their arsenal of photo gear, like Parker Gyokeres, are on the same page when it comes to safety concerns. Mr. Gyokeres, an active duty United States Air Force photojournalist who was hired as a subcontractor by the Maloney-Florke wedding’s photographer, said, “I always have an abort plan, and I never fly my drone out of my sight.” If he is within five miles of an airport, he contacts the tower and never flies higher than 400 feet.