The beauty of Boston and the entire state of Massachusetts is widely known. But, when seen from a different perspective, you get to appreciate the marvels of the Bay State even more. Marvin Sandoval is precisely one of the guys – a drone influencer in Boston who delivers the charm of these urban American cities through platforms like Instagram to the rest of the world.
He is a talented, Boston-based twenty-nine-year-old drone influencer. Marvin works as a Senior Creative at Digital Credit Union and is an owner of Media by Marvin out of Boston, MA. He loves photography and videography, and when he isn’t behind the camera, he loves playing video games, researching crypto, and spending time with his fiancé and his Australian shepherd, Ozzie.
The Making of a Drone Professional – Read About Marvin’s Beginning
Marvin got into drones almost by chance – in a way to expand his options when doing photography. He was doing most of his work via handheld on Sony cameras when he took a liking to drones. “I got into drones because I thought it just looked awesome,” he tells us.
Besides, he began getting opportunities and realized that he needed to take the game up to the next professional level. So, he got his Part 107 and enjoys flying his drone.
Like most drone pilots, he started photographing by drone the places he knew. In Marvin’s case that was his city Waltham. He’s gone a long way since then. Recently he was shooting in Gloucester, MA when he was working for the historical society of Cape Ann. Further, he shared with us the drone shot, which is closest to his heart. “My favorite photo is the shot of the Zakim Bridge right at sunset. I was able to capture the lights of the bridge, the traffic, and the beautiful sunset happening in the background all at once.”
TDW: How did you learn to fly your drone?
M.S.: I learned on my own! It honestly wasn’t complicated, but it’s important to fly in an area with not a lot of overhead.
You want to practice maneuvering and getting used to the controls because it takes time to adjust to the sticks.
TDW: Which drone was your first one and which one are you using now?
M.S.: I started with the Mavic Pro and now I own the Mavic 2 Pro – definitely looking into FPV next!
TDW: Awesome choices! What are the features and accessories that you find attractive in a drone? What do you love most about DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro?
M.S.: One of my favorite features is the panorama option! I love providing clients the opportunity to get some of their favorite locations in panorama! I also love using ND filters on my drone. It saves my footage from blowing highlights out while I shoot in the day!
TDW: Your drone shots really capture the beauty of Boston and the subjects in your shots. How do you choose what you shoot? And how do you prepare for a typical drone photo shooting?
M.S.: I love shooting skylines for fun and I love doing it from as many different angles as possible. Everything begins by looking at different parking garages in Boston so I can see how high I can get and different vantage points before take-off.
I also love seeing other artists, seeing what they’ve captured and ways that I can do it with my take on the city! Using hashtags of your city helps so much in prepping.
Chicago is by far the most drone-friendly city to fly and honestly is so gorgeous. I went there to visit my family and it’s still to date some of my favorite work. I definitely want to go to South Africa, Japan, and Dubai. That would be a dream.
TDW: That’s great. And during all those flights, there must be some good and some not-so-good incidents. Do you have any interesting stories with your drone that you’d like to share with us and the readers?
M.S.: That has to be the day I nearly lost my hand from my Phantom 4 Pro going rogue due to an unknown frequency.
I went into the seaport district in Boston with my buddy Zach (shout out to HBZMEDIA). We were going to get some winter shots of Boston at night.
It was about 10 degrees out and freezing. I decided to take my drone out and take some shots of Boston. After I finished filming, I landed the drone and began to look at the photos on my iPhone.
Out of nowhere, my drone decided to take off and began to fly without my control. There were families and children around me and I was just thinking about the dangers of my drone hurting a pedestrian – so I quickly jumped into action and pushed the drone down to the floor.
In doing so, the propellers broke off my hand, causing major lacerations to my hand. I was bleeding like crazy! But, luckily there was a Legal Sea Foods across the street. So, I ran in, washed the blood from my hands and the cold actually stopped major bleeding from occurring.
I bandaged my hand up, went to my drone, which was covered in blood. The propellers were destroyed, too. And I saw my buddy Zach trying to clean up the mess.
All in all – I learned to take out the battery immediately after shooting because you never know when a drone decides to go rogue.
A Day in the Life of a Drone Influencer
TDW: Nice choice. Being a photo/video/drone influencer, what does your typical day look like?
M.S.: A typical day begins with my dog Ozzie waking me up followed by an early morning walk around 6:45 AM.
Then, by the time it’s 8 AM, I’ve walked a few miles, have had breakfast and have begun my podcast for What’s good, Crypto?. Then, I usually have meetings from 9 AM until about 11 AM.
I head to the gym around 12 PM and I’m home by 1 PM. Afterward, I begin scouting locations of where I need to be for photoshoots for clients to head into the city by 4 PM. I bring my gear and I begin shooting for about 2-3 hours.
I also enjoy just getting lost because as much as I know Boston, you always find something new and exciting. After gathering as much footage as possible, I come home and begin the editing process which can take a few days!
TDW: That’s a great routine you got there. You mentioned editing… What’s your take on the entire process? Do you find photo editing an essential part of how you present your work?
M.S.: Absolutely. I try to do 70-80% of the work on camera. But, the magic happens in Adobe Lightroom. I’ve developed my own style and the color looks with a lot of practice.
I also learned to revisit old work as I mature as an artist. This helps me see what I can do differently as my taste in colors changes.
TDW: Amazing tips. Are there some peers who you admire and draw inspiration from?M.S.: Some photographers I look up to are actually outside of the drone space, I think it’s important to get inspiration outside of your niche. I’ll mention Aaron Ricketts (@aaronricketts_), Krispy (@sokrispy), and Aimos (@aim.os).
Marvin’s Take on a Rapidly Evolving Drone Industry and Being a Drone Pilot in the USA
TDW: What are your thoughts on the drone industry in the States? Are drones utilized enough? Where do you see the future of drone applications?
M.S.: I think we are just at the beginning of drone adoption. I think people are becoming more and more comfortable with drones and seeing drones flying around. We are beginning to see drones being pushed to new limits in both quality and safety.
Right now, FPV drones are in and very popular. We’re beginning to see FPV in a new light and I think it’s just the beginning of what tech can do.
TDW: What about the drone laws and regulations there? Do you think that something can be improved?
M.S.: I think laws and regulations for drones continue to evolve and grow and I do think that they are moving in the right direction.
For example, I was about to renew my license and go for my part 107 exam when I got the update that you no longer have to pay for the exam and retake the part 107 test in a testing facility. You can now take an online course and take it from home.
It’s cool to see that they are making drone licensing more accessible to everyone.
TDW: That’s great to hear. While we’re still talking about the States – which locations would you recommend other drone operators to visit and take drone shots?
M.S.: Boston. There is so much to see in Boston and in the fall it’s spectacular. Make sure that you have the authorization to fly!
TDW: Absolutely! You mentioned that people are becoming more comfortable with drones. How well do the people accept drones in America? How do they usually react?
M.S.: It’s been getting better – I would say 8/10 times it’s usually people who are genuinely interested and curious about drones. They say how cool it is, or how they have a friend who just got one, or how they’re considering getting into it!
I rarely run into a killjoy who asks to take it down or say they feel they’re being spied on.
TDW: Is it easy to travel to the US when carrying a drone with you? Do you have any tips to share regarding particular equipment?
M.S.: Insanely easy. I throw my Mavic 2 Pro in my backpack and I’ve never had an issue.
Tips, Tricks, and Looking Ahead
TDW: Very cool! Do you have some advice you’d like to share with our readers based on what you’ve learned?
M.S.: BUY DJI REFRESH! You will most likely crash your drone at some point, so have a backup just in case.
Experiment, take WAY more photos than you should because you’ll surprise yourself.
Lastly, let the camera run a little bit longer than it should when you’re filming. If the clip you’re looking for is 5 seconds long, plan for 8 seconds. It’s always good to have more than not enough.
TDW: You talked about FPV a couple of times. Would you ever consider it or drone racing?
M.S.: Absolutely! FPV is so sick – I’ve crashed a bunch of drones, so I am a little nervous. However, I think it could be an amazing addition to my arsenal.
TDW: What are your next steps professionally as a drone influencer? Do you plan to keep drone photography in the future? Maybe as your full-time job?
M.S.: My next goal is to be full-time for my own company! My drone has been awesome. I definitely plan on getting exposure to the Boston crowd and growing my following.
A lot of my clients find my drone work first and learn about my other services. I look forward to continuing to grow as an artist and a professional!
We’re so glad to hear about that and we’ll continue supporting and showcasing young professionals such as Marvin. The Drones World team thanks Marvin for the time and his super helpful answers.
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