The sky's the limit for drone entrepreneur
Anthony Franco left his banking job to lift off his new passion: Owning his own drone photography business.
The Dartmouth resident officially launched AVPOD — Aerial Video and Photography of Dartmouth — eight weeks ago. Based out of his Bakerville Road home, it was quite the career change for the lifelong South Coast resident. He had previously been a branch manager at the Fall River Citizens Bank branch.
“I went from a branch manager in the financial world to a remote pilot flying a drone,” Franco said. “I really wanted to do something on my own. I’ve always wanted to have my own business and I’ve been thinking about this for over a year.”
He started looking into drone photography last year, drawn to the new technology and sensing it had the potential to open up new opportunities. He purchased his first drone — a DJI Phantom 4 — last July.
“Learning to fly, it was not that easy,” Franco said. “Even though I do have a monitor [on the remote control] I thought it would be easier to manipulate and control it, but it’s taken me a while to really get a hang of it.”
Although he has the hang of it now, the weather can be a challenge, as wind can affect the shots he can take.
“The unit itself is pretty forgiving, and even under the windiest conditions I can get steady shots.”
Even with his flying skills, he wasn’t quite ready to open up his business yet — first he needed his license.
“Most people might not know this, but you need a remote pilot’s license from the FAA to fly for business,” Franco said. “Anyone can register a drone, but for folks that want to fly for business you need to have your [remote] pilot’s license from the FAA.”
It was tough, as Franco had to learn everything from airspace and aeronautical map reading to the unique laws regarding “small unmanned aircraft.” With no prior photography background, it also meant developing technical and creative skills.
“It’s a new experience but I’ve learned a ton,” Franco said. “I’m becoming very familiar with all the aspects of photography — histograms, aperture, shutter speeds and all those things.”
His business focuses on offering drone services for realtors, visual roof inspections, and freelance projects. He recently completed a visual roof inspection on a large building, and helped a realtor convey a property’s closeness to the ocean by being able to picture both in an aerial shot.
His latest project involved producing an extreme sports video with a local dirt bike rider, following the rider through Freetown-Fall River State Forest as he rode the trails.
Now he’s working on building his social media profile and taking on more clients. He also hopes to branch out to more subject areas like nature and focus on Dartmouth as a community.
“Right now it’s marketing, it’s getting out there, getting the word out, building my website, building my Facebook and Instagram.”
As his online presence is still under construction, he can be reached by phone at (508) 632-3176.