Drone Photographer Captures Bird's-Eye Portraits Around the World – PetaPixel

Aerial portraits
Photographer Dimitar Karanikolov has captured a series of aerial portraits from a wide variety of locations around the world. His photos stand out thanks to his use of a human element which add a sense of scale.
Based between Bulgaria and the United Kingdom, Karanikolov is an architect by trade through his studio, Meshroom. Due to the nature of his profession and having attended specialized photo expeditions around the world, he eventually added aerial and travel photography as a hobby.
“In 2016 I was helping a friend to shoot a short movie about a remote village in the mountains in Bulgaria and we needed some aerial footage, as we couldn’t find a drone pilot I bought a drone and learned how to fly it within several hours,” he tells PetaPixel. “Since then, everywhere I go, I bring a ‘flying camera’ with me.”
Aerial portrait by Dimitar Karanikolov
When he first started shooting with a drone, Karanikolov wanted to fly it as high as possible to capture majestic landscape views, but he soon realized that flying even a few meters above the ground is enough to achieve a unique perspective of the subject or view in front of the camera.
Aerial portrait of a beach Aerial portrait of a woman in leaves Aerial shot of sun loungers by the beach Aerial shot of a man on a rocky surface
He also noticed that some natural or urban patterns could look too abstract when captured with a drone. However, adding a person in the frame can give the audience a sense of scale when looking at his photographs and made them dramatically more interesting.
Aerial portrait by Dimitar Karanikolov Aerial portrait by Dimitar Karanikolov Aerial portrait by Dimitar Karanikolov
“Even a very small ‘two-pixel’ figure in the center of a vast landscape would make the photo much more exciting,” he says. “I would often joke and ask my girlfriend who travels with me most of the time, ‘would you be my two-pixel model?’”
Aerial portrait by Dimitar Karanikolov Aerial portrait by Dimitar Karanikolov Aerial portrait by Dimitar Karanikolov
For the most part, he often improvises and discovers beautiful locations wherever his travels take him. He says that Google Earth comes in handy as a virtual location scouting tool.
Aerial portrait by Dimitar Karanikolov Aerial portrait by Dimitar Karanikolov Aerial portrait by Dimitar Karanikolov Aerial portrait by Dimitar Karanikolov
His friends often pose as his subjects, or if nobody is available, he creates a “dronie” — a drone selfie — by posing himself. So far, he hasn’t run into any challenges in pursuing drone portraits. However, Karanikolov does point out that drone regulations have become tighter each year.
Aerial portrait by Dimitar Karanikolov Aerial portrait by Dimitar Karanikolov Aerial portrait by Dimitar Karanikolov
“We live in times where every corner of our planet is already explored and photographed, so I count on aerial photography to find new perspectives of well-known scenarios,” Karanikolov tells PetaPixel about his future plans.
“I’d love to include more indigenous people in my ‘Drone Portraits’ series and capture traditional rituals from above in the future.”
More of Karanikolov’s work can be found on his Instagram, print shop, and Behance profile.
Image credits: Photos by Dimitar Karanikolov.
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