Evan Petty Discusses the Impact of Aerial Photography on Commercial Real Estate

by Capstak

Evan Petty













Evan Petty | Owner of Aerial Imaging

When Evan Petty worked a couple of years as a customer service agent for Southwest Airlines right out of college, he had little idea that his career path someday would bring him back to the skies.

Evan is the owner of Reno-based Aerial Imaging, which provides aerial photography for real estate professionals, construction companies and a wide variety of clients in Nevada, Northern California and Arizona.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis on marketing from San Francisco State University.

After working for Southwest, Evan worked in advertising and e-commerce marketing for an online media company and built a reputation as a growth-oriented territory sales and marketing manager for upper-end home construction products.

Evan launched Aerial Imaging nearly 12 years ago and now provides photography services delivered from airplanes, helicopters and drones.


He answers our questions:


1. What information does aerial photography provide that isn’t available otherwise?

Aerial photography gives a birds-eye view of property and buildings, which is especially useful when packaging a proposal for a building/land. Both images and video are now used frequently and have different uses, depending on how you want to impress a buyer.

With aerial stills from a plane, you can show where your building is located relative to downtown, freeways, dense population areas, etc. I shoot a variety of angles – wide, medium and close-in views, all ready for printing or labeling for the broker or agent. Since the shots are only a few days old it shows how the building looks currently with better views, and of course much higher resolution and better colors than the available images on the web. Depending on the site, sometimes showing the property and surrounding area in a single image is what is needed; it just depends on what works best for our clients.

For video, drones are very useful and the hottest way to present land and building. A well-crafted custom video presentation about 1-2 minutes in length, showing the building/property with a variety of aerial views (including inside and out), has tremendous impact to impress a buyer.

Other aerial aspects include building inspections, and vertical shots for GIS, but most of my clients use aerials to market and promote building and properties.


2. What is the most difficult assignment your company has undertaken?

I shot a large tract of land for sale for the federal government. The job required a lot of images to be used to inspect the property ahead of time, and stitched vertical imagery was not an option. They wanted to know what was on the land before teams went on foot to inspect from the ground. The aerial shots needed to be organized so they could understand what they were looking at. I created a grid system with an overview map and each section broken out with high-resolution shots for each area. The aerials gave them a better understanding of what the land and structures looked like and helped them concentrate their efforts where they needed to inspect.

Occasionally I shoot aerial projects in other parts of the country as well. Sometimes logistics can be a challenge when weather and timing do not work. We factor the weather conditions as well. Mother Nature can be frustrating sometimes and push deadlines back.


3. What factors should a commercial real estate professional consider when choosing an aerial imaging company?

Experience and communication are critical. For aerials in marketing, understanding how your aerials will be used is important so you can make a fantastic impact for your client. Experience also brings many technical parts into play — good lighting, editing experience, excellent camera equipment, and of course making the process easy, which is where communication plays a part. Good communication aspects include understanding of budget restraints, client confidentiality, rescheduling if the weather is poor, and of course, discussing ahead of time how aerials will work best for you. Sometimes aspects are overlooked until the last minute, such as offering ground shots or video. We can shoot stabilized ground video both inside/outside the buildings to accompany any aerial work so you have a thorough presentation from the air and on the ground.

Another considering factor is being able to offer different types of pricing for our clients. Typical pricing starts around $275. We also offer bundled pricing which is useful if you have multiple sites that need aerials. This is a good way to get pricing even lower if your budget requires it. Options might also include good aerial stock imagery of the area.

Knowledge is important as well. We are a member of the international organization Professional Aerial Photographers Association (also known as PAPA). We are also licensed drone operators with the FAA.

Having fun is good factor as well. I have a great time working with clients as well as shooting aerials, flying drones and editing footage. This is what I do for a living and, I put my heart into every aerial job I do.


4. How do you see your industry impacting the future of commercial real estate?

Video presentations using a drone are becoming more prevalent. There is growing interest to show property/buildings using aerial video on the web. This also helps to promote the agencies and brokers who want more of an online presence for their portfolio. Aerial video is also becoming more affordable. The drone technology has become so reliable in the past 2-3 years that in 5-10 year from now I suspect drones will be everywhere to do aerial work that I haven’t even considered. For aerial imagery, Google Earth equivalent views are available and free, and while this works for many properties, web aerials are not ideal for high-end properties and buildings. A custom aerial photo shoot is ideal. Also, stock aerial images are a great solution for commercial real estate. We keep images archived of downtown, and different areas for sale.


5. What parts of your job have changed with the advances in drone technology?

Drones in past two to three years have made such a big splash, they are also the most fun part of my current aerial work. Before drones I tried shooting aerials in unique ways. In 2002, I used a custom-designed, radio-controlled helicopter with a 48-inch rotor, fitted with the best digital camera I could find. I had it custom made from the Czech Republic with an electric motor — all to reduce vibration to allow for digital shots. I had been shooting for about six months when I built myself a collapsible pole system that would extend to a height of 75 feet with a camera on top. I set up a digital SLR with pan, zoom, tilt and 360-degree turns to shoot from up high. The perspective was great, but the setup time was very extensive for both helicopter and the pole. Once drones entered the market with a reliable platform to shoot video, I just about fell over with excitement.

Prior to drones, the development of digital cameras made the most difference. When the first full frame sensor was released (Canon 5D as I recall) digital really took off. This was a huge leap from the days of film where I processed and developed using a dark room. I started in photography in the 1980s. Today, I am pleased to be able to edit everything from my office.

Community + Connectivity + Knowledge

Capstak is a market network for the commercial real estate capital markets. Capstak’s proprietary technology solutions empower the $15 trillion commercial real estate industry by enabling CRE professionals to find deals, source capital and identify trusted business partners with greater ease and efficiency. CRES provides bespoke services to enhance the efficiency of the matchmaking of capital for capital seekers and brokers advising the debt and equity CRE capital markets. The company is headquartered in Reno, Nevada with offices in New York and San Francisco. www.Capstak.com