Student book explores drone photography

By Javier Romero

January 23, 2017
Guttman flying a drone

Chase Guttman, a junior photography major in the photojournalism sequence at the Newhouse School, is a passionate photographer. Three times named Young Travel Photographer of the Year, he spent the past year working on a book, “The Handbook of Drone Photography: A Complete Guide to the New Art of Do-It-Yourself Aerial Photography,” which will be published in February. Here, Guttman answers a few questions about how he uses technology to enhance his photography.

How did you discover your passion for photography and visual storytelling?

My dad is a travel journalist and every year he puts on a slideshow at our house, showing his photos from the past year. That is really how I started digesting photography at a very young age, watching people’s reactions to his photographs and understanding how you can tell stories through imagery.

Why did you decide to come to Newhouse?

For me, the decision actually had a lot to do with drones. I was looking for schools that were dealing with cutting-edge technology. I’ve always looked at how new technology has an impact on storytelling and journalism, and when I was looking at journalism programs, there was only one place that seemed to be experimenting with drones, and that was Newhouse. As soon as I got here, drones were the big thing I became involved with, and that propelled me toward this book project.

How did you get involved with drones?

Through the Skyworks Project (a student group focusing on drone technology); I have been their chief of photography since my freshman year. We test the boundaries of drone technology; we build our own drones, we work with different companies, we have even shot stuff for The New York Times. It has really allowed me to get an up-close and personal view of the technology.

Where does your interest in drones and drone photography come from?

I have always looked for interesting perspectives in photography. One of the first photography awards I ever won was for an image that was taken using my tripod like a fly fishing rod—I put my camera on the end of the tripod and put it up a tree to photograph a parrot. So perspective has always been important to me, and now it’s just so easy [to get interesting perspectives] with drones.

What have you tried to accomplish with this book?

The book covers how to get into drone photography, the ins and outs of the technology, how to use it and how to take great photos with it. I think that’s the challenge for people who are either very technologically minded or artistically minded. I’m trying to bridge together those two things while teaching people about the wonderful world of drone photography in particular.

Did anyone in Newhouse help you write the book?

My involvement with the Skyworks Project had a huge role in helping me write this book. It really shaped a lot of my knowledge, specifically my technical knowledge of drones, because I really come from an artistic background. I also had Newhouse photojournalism professors, such as Mike Davis and Greg Heisler, who allowed me to do projects that involved drones.

Javier Romero is a sophomore dual broadcast and digital journalism and information management and technology major at the Newhouse School and the School of Information Studies. This interview was edited for clarity.