To begin, Aran Eversman does not define himself as solely a photographer. He identifies most as a storyteller, and knew that this would be his life’s work the moment he picked up a camera. Aran’s been flying and shooting with Solo for some time now, and in this interview he shares his experiences as an action sports filmmaker.
3DR: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve had to the chance to capture with drones?
Aran: I was part of a team shooting an episode of Red Bull Signature Series for NBC at the world’s largest amateur motocross race, Loretta Lynn’s. Earlier in the year, the boys at AXOM Cinema, Wes Williams and pilot Chris Creamer had built a kiddie pool-sized Octo to carry a RED Epic Cinema Camera and this race was by far our biggest and most time-sensitive project using the new rig. On the steps of Loretta Lynn’s home with traffic stopped on either side of the road, Sal reading live dialog and a team of a dozen people coordinating the effort, the (hand-flown) Octo played a crucial role in setting the tone for the hour-long feature with a dramatic ascent up and over Sal, revealing the Colonial mansion and the pristine grounds of the facility. You can check it out here.
Fast forward three years. What took a team of people and a ton of effort now fits on my back with the Solo. Within days of receiving Solo (and a super sick Solo Backpack) I geared up and headed for the Oregon coast — hiking around Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor in Brookings and capturing some incredible footage from the jagged outcroppings of the coast. I love to explore outdoors and shoot nature photography, so this opened up an entirely new creative spectrum and has added an entirely new element of excitement to hikes and mountain bike rides.
3DR: What’s your favorite Solo feature?
Aran: Tough call — my personal favorite is Orbit because it’s such a complex maneuver to fly manually and this Smart Shot opens up a huge realm of new possibilities. Whether it’s a tight circle around a subject standing four feet off the ground or a cinematic reveal of the sunset behind a rock outcropping on the Oregon Coast, it’s incredibly useful and the real-time feedback down to my iPhone is a reassuring reference when the Solo is on the farthest point of the orbit.
3DR: How did you get into aerial photography?
Aran: I’ve been flying radio control airplanes with my Dad since I was five or six years old, have always had an interest in aviation and soloed in a Cessna 152 at age 18. But I got involved in aerial photography while working for Vurbmoto, a motocross publisher in SoCal. My introduction to drones was opposite of most. Instead of starting small and working my way up, I watched the AXOM Octo project come to life and worked with that crew first. That’s where I first experienced the potential for drones in cinematography applications. It was easier to coordinate and less cost-intensive than a full-size heli and crew and provided perspectives that simply weren’t available from the ground.
3DR: What do you use drones for?
Aran: Currently I’ve been using drones as an extension to my film/photo toolkit but I see that evolving as time goes on. I had the opportunity to work with the Oregon Department of Forestry on the “Stouts Fire” wildfire that claimed over 26,000 acres this summer, and saw first-hand the huge potential the drones hold as a reconnaissance and mapping tool that can help firefighters better understand fire dynamics and more safely position support crews based on realtime data.
3DR: How do you see them being used in the future?
Aran: I think we’ve really just scratched the surface of their potential, but as an entrepreneur I’m excited to follow the bleeding edge of UAS technology as it develops over the next few years.
3DR: What are your sources of inspiration?
Aran: There’s inspiration to be found everywhere. In my working world, it’s the underdog story: Capturing someone overcoming an impossible challenge and the moments of total joy that follow. I saw this quote once by Jim Jarmusch that kind of sums it up: “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, painting, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable, originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery — celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: ‘It’s not where you take things from, it’s where you take them to.’” Moral of the story: Be a sponge. Absorb inspiration from everywhere. Assemble all of those ingredients to create something awesome, new and entirely your own.
3DR: What other gear do you use on your shoots?
Aran: My Canon 5D Mark 3 is my go-to for most everything from landscapes to sports stills. Essential lenses? 16–35mm, 24–70mm, and a 70–200mm with a 50mm prime and a 100–400mm for tight slomo action. For film I shoot on a combination of a Blackmagic Cinema Cam and Sony FS-700 for slow motion. The RED Epic still reigns supreme on all fronts though — my preference for big commercial shoots and the ultimate flexibility in post.
3DR: What tip would you give to someone just starting out with aerials?
Aran: Less is more, and finish your shots! One awesome shot is worth way more than five attempts cut short and none useable. Solo’s Cable Cam Smart Shot makes this easy: Set your start point and framing, fly to your desired endpoint, frame it and run the mission. A well-planned aerial shot reveals new information to the viewer. Combine action in the frame to bring the viewer’s eye across the shot and you’ve got yourself the recipe for one sweet, super pro aerial shot.
To see more of Aran Eversman’s work, check out his website here, and follow him on Instagram: @arevv_