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During this couple’s maternity session in a canyon I decided to pull out my drone and get an image of them laying together from above. I asked the soon to be dad to lay down on his back and for the mama to lay on her side next to him so we could see the bump. They were troopers and layed on the hard rock, pregnant and all. The challenge I faced with this shot is flying the drone and then trying to land it on uneven ground. I actually lost a couple blades because I landed on a slope and cracked 2 of my drone blades.

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How did you direct your subject(s)?

I simply asked the dad to lay on his back with his legs crossed at his ankles and then asked the mom to lay next to him. I asked her to rest her head on his chest and to just place her hand under her belly to help define it. That was important because this shot was going to be pretty wide, and seeing that she was pregnant was the goal.

What did you say?

“ok dad go ahead and lay on your back and cross your legs at your ankles. Now mom, I want you to lay next to him resting your head on his chest and put a hand under your belly to define your bump. Dad, wrap your arm around her.

How did you compose your image?

I wanted to include both sides of the canyon in my shot so tried to include roughly the same amount of canyon on each side of the couple. I tried to take the shot directly above them and not at an angle. This also throws in a good few compositional elements like leading lines and natural frames.

How and what did you focus on?

Focusing was very simple for this image as I positioned the drone directly above the couple. I then tapped the screen on my phone to where the focus should be (which was the couple) and the drone locked on without issue.


How did you use the light in your image?

Natural light – the sun had gone behind the canyon wall and the time was about 1.5 hours before sunset. I used the light this way because before it goes behind the canyon wall it is direct harsh light and I would rather have it in the open shade vs direct harsh sunlight. I would not have done anything differently.

What was the gear & settings you used?

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DJI Mavic Pro 2


DJI Mavic Pro 2





Shutter Speed






White Balance


How did you edit your image & what did you use?

I used the spot removal brush to remove myself from the image, then used SMAL 01 as a base, decreased highlights and whites, increased shadows and exposure, increased saturation but then erased it off the couple, removed grain, took to photoshop and applied Stormy Solis’ one click action (smoothed skin, lightened subject, darkened edges, added warmth), added sunshine action and bring back color action, used My Four Hens action to paint on warmth around the rocks, adjusted curves to decrease shadows and increase highlights, saved back into photoshop, applied SMAL 08 over image, removed grain, decreased highlights and whites.

Software Used

Lightroom and Photoshop


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What challenges did you face?

The only challenges would be possible mild discomfort of the subjects from laying on the rock but they did not complain. Also flying my drone in a canyon is always a bit of a challenge and finding a spot to land it since the area was very uneven. If I did it again I would probably have started and ended in the road instead of trying to land it in the canyon (I lost 2 blades trying to land it)

How did you solve them?

I recently discovered the Home button on my drone which has it land the same spot it took off, so that would have been a solution!

Can you share any last thoughts or advice?

When doing a drone shot, look for areas that are interesting around your subject (layers, interesting curves, etc. – not just a field of mowed grass) and don’t be afraid to play with the saturation when editing to really make it pop.

Emily Hodge

Shooting since


Current Home

United States of America



I would describe myself as a lover of adventure, dogs, sunshine, mountains and fresh air. I bought my first camera (a canon rebel) after my son was born in 2013 but my passion grew after my daughter was born in 2014, because I wanted to capture more than the yearly stressful Christmas card photos. I wanted to capture the essence of their childhood. The dirty feet, the messy hair…capturing the raw beauty and innocence of childhood. I would describe my style as rustic, organic and moody. I recently quit my job as a registered nurse to pursue photography full time. I am also a volunteer photographer with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and the Gold Hope Project.

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