Aerial photographer David Kenny, from Belfast, left the corporate world to pursue a career in photography. He shares his story and photographs with Turf and Grain.
David Kenny spent almost four years training to be a chartered accountant before he realised that it wasn’t his passion. His lifelong fascination with technology inspired a new career in drone photography, founding Soarscape.
From a young age, I had an inherent interest in technology, and growing up in such a continually changing technological landscape was fascinating for me. Going from Cassette to DVD, Walkman to iPod, Plasma to High Definition TV, meant that there were always new pieces of technology for me to explore.
Naturally, this keen interest in technology led to an undergraduate and masters in accountancy. After the completion of my masters, I entered into the world of accounting with one of the ‘Big Four’ firms. By the end of my contract, I knew that I didn’t want to be an accountant, and it was time to move on. While looking for other jobs, the vested interest in technology slowly keep appearing in what I needed.
OK, I know- not exactly where that should have gone. Don’t get me wrong, I was, and still am, (with the much-needed assistance of a calculator) good at maths. The problem-solving element of accounting appealed to me, and being able to figure out the solution to a known problem was intriguing. I enjoyed understanding how things worked. Technology has also played a large role in the life and work of my family and friends, and having a great support network enabled the formation of Soarscape. My sister is an incredible photographer and graphic designer, in the well-deserved position of being able to work for herself, and showcase her talent. My girlfriend works as a self-employed model, and is also a talented makeup artist. She’s remarkable; travelling across the UK and Ireland for photo shoots, doing her own admin, keeping healthy and on top of current trends, all while completing her final year of university.
My dad set up a successful website design business after many years of corporate life. He had to learn everything about that industry himself, including early-stage coding, before the age of Youtube tutorials. I have so much respect for the bravery and work ethic he showed in making it succeed.
Surrounded by people who had set up their own businesses, it felt an integral next step in my own career, although I wasn’t sure exactly what my own business would be. Then, one day, I read an article on the potential of using drone technology for aerial photography and video, and was immediately captivated. I explored the technology, read up on the quickly growing number of applications, learned about aerial regulations, and purchased a professional-standard drone. The aim was to change the perspective, in both the application of aerial technology and the nature of a creative industries business. From sports to agriculture, surveying to photo shoots, individuals to international companies, I strive to provide a high-quality service to assist with an idea, help to solve a problem, or provide clients with a fresh perspective. This is what inspires me each day. It’s a pleasure to have already collaborated with some brilliant people and innovative companies, and I’m looking forward to doing so with many more. Setting up a business is a constant learning process. It’s a process that offers multiple challenges, but also allows you to shape the work that you do. It’s a process that I’m grateful to experience every day.
The technology itself is also exciting. In a rapidly changing market, there are new pieces of equipment and firmware being released each month, and new software products being developed for to increase the functionality and applicability of drones. However, the technology also presents its challenges. As the nature of the job is aerial, it’s important to be aware of local regulations, and the limitations of the technology in varying conditions and areas.
In comparison to traditional photography and videography, there is a vast amount of paperwork around pre-site surveys, permissions, risk assessment, battery logs, maintenance logs and so on. Thankfully, the longer you spend in the industry, the less onerous this becomes. Staying on top of all of this is genuinely fascinating for me. The range of drone technology applications nowadays, and the ever-changing advancements to these is spectacular. Over the past month, I’ve worked on site surveys, sports analyses, indoor videos, construction inspections , weddings, corporate videos and have even assisted with real estate photography. It’s exciting to research, learn, and apply the skill-set needed for each of these different projects. Every new project is an exciting challenge.
Fergal Smith is a farmer from Mayo. Having travelled the world for years chasing waves on the professional surfing circuit, he became disillusioned with the life of a professional surfer.