I lost my drone at a wedding.
Time to gumboot up. This professional wedding videographer lost his drone at a wedding.
There’s a bit to this wee anecdote so before reading on, get in the zone and watch David + Stacey’s Weka Wedding Feature; set deep in Canterbury high alps country, at the headwaters of the mighty Rakaia River in New Zealand.
…so back to that ‘lost drone thing’.
I’m not going to drone on (pun totally intended) about the events that led to this unfortunate mishap…sorry to disappoint you, after all - you clicked right? So you probably either: a) can totally relate, b) want to feel better about yourself or c) are just fooling around senselessly on FB at the end of a work day…
You just need to know that it was a combination of a momentary lapse of concentration (yes it happens), technical failures (drones love to throw Apollo 13 scenarios at you), zero data (arm, Southern Alps?) and unreliable GPS coverage (Houston we have a problem). I’d never lost nor crashed my drone before - professionally or recreationally (except for that one time I was flying in my lounge pretending the drone was a TIE fighter). This was technically a first, it just super sucked it was on a pro shoot.
My first instinct was to keep the event totally under wraps.
I was flying during the small window us wedding videographers usually get between the ceremony and bridal shoot. I decided to conduct a subtle search in the area I last had a visual. On my way, one of the guests caught my attention…“Mate, did you just lose your drone?”. I couldn’t exactly respond… “Nah mate, just going for an urgent looking shuffle jog walk into this paddock for no apparent reason…”. I reluctantly admitted to the gentleman I’d lost contact with my drone but that it was no big deal and that I’d locate it later if necessary. While stumbling on this ‘BS’ line, the gracious gentleman was scaling the fence, Speights in hand to join my search party of one, all the while probing for intel about approximate black hawk down coordinates. I was cool with one dude helping me out - you could hardly call it a disruption - and hey, it increased my chances of locating both the drone and footage by 50%. However, the gentleman’s actions stirred a bit of attention…
Nek minnit, his mates and their mates had joined the search and from there it snowballed to to a 1/3 of the wedding guests.
As a professional, this was horrifying. What an egg. I pride myself at weddings for my ‘wandering weka’ approach - that’s my job - scavenge as much of the good stuff as I can while drawing as little attention as possible. The Great White Wedding (David & Stacey White) drone search completely obliterated this.
Feeling helpless and knowing there was nothing I could do to halt the flood of selfless goodwill pouring over that paddock, I offered a $150 reward to the person who located the drone.
I didn’t anticipate this would a) not motivate the existing search party members in the slightest and b) attract another 10 - 15 members to the search!
Although I was embarrassed and a touch horrified by the events that were unfolding…at the same time I remember feeling immensely grateful and frankly stunned at the spirited response.
David & Stacey are genuine, well-grounded and compassionate souls. Clearly they also attract these traits in their mates.
To cut a long blog post short (who has the time right?)…the drone was eventually located undamaged (just one or two paddocks over from where I’d directed people to search - but who’s counting?). The drone was found by the local kid (nicknamed by the wedding guests as ‘Joe Dirt’ on account of his seriously good mullet). When I approached ‘Joe’ to personally thank him, he was very quick to request I credit the $150 reward to the wedding couple - David & Stacey. How cool is that? How many 14 year olds do you know would turn down free cash? …David and Stacey, of course, declined the $150 - no surprises there!