By Christine Graf
After the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily halted the cruise industry, Capital Region native Chris Spangler found himself in need of a new job. Spangler had been employed as a tour guide in an Alaskan town that was a stopover point for cruise ships.
“Thanks to the pandemic, the cruise ship business obviously tanked which removed my Alaskan job,” said Spangler.
As a result, he decided to open his own business, Down to Earth Aerial. The Saratoga-based company specializes in drone photography and video production.
“I really enjoy aerial photography and flying drones, so I tapped into some of the contacts I have in this area in the construction industry and the real estate industry and worked to build a photography business specializing in aerial photography as well as virtual tours,” said Spangler.
He said it can be especially helpful in the effort to market commercial real estate to investors who are not familiar with the area. It is also useful in marketing residential real estate because it offers a different perspective on the property.
“It’s really nice for people who aren’t from the area to be able to look at a plot that they are considering and be able to see the surrounding area from the air,” he said. “And with the real estate industry for homeowners, it’s just a really nice way to show off the entire space as well as break up the images from just standard terrestrial shots of the house inside and out. It gives you a different viewpoint from up in the air. The big thing we try to talk to clients about is showing what they have from a different perspective.”
Spangler’s customers also include homeowners interested in purchasing aerial photos of their homes.
“Drones are still relatively new to the market, so a lot of people have never seen even their local area from 400 feet up in the air. In upstate New York, which is a really beautiful place, looking at your house from up in the air can offer a really neat perspective and give people a nice look at a piece of property that they may have lived on for 20 years,” he said.
Down to Earth Aerial also offers interior real estate photography services. Spangler uses a special camera to create interactive virtual tours of property interiors.
“The tour allows you to move through a home or a building. In this time of social distancing, it’s a nice way for people to be able to essentially visit a house from the comfort of their own home,” he said. “It actually feels like you are inside the house. You can move around to different places. And, unlike in a video, you have full control of the time you spend in each place, as well as what it is that you want to look at.”
The company also creates virtual tours for commercial spaces and recently completed one for Universal Preservation Hall in downtown Saratoga Springs.
“Using it for spaces like that allows businesses to show off their space and helps people understand what it is they would be renting or visiting. In this world of not traveling and social distancing, virtual tours can be incredibly valuable to businesses because it’s a very immersive, high-detail virtual tour,” said Spangler.
Down to Earth Aerial also offers commercial videography services and simple television commercial production. The company was recently hired to create a marketing video for Adirondack (SunKiss) Balloon Flights in Glens Falls.
“We went out with them on a number of different flights and filmed the entire ballooning experience,” said Spangler.
Business has been “better than expected,” and Spangler predicts it will be the virtual tour aspect of his business that will expand most rapidly in 2021.
For more information, visit www.downtoearthaerial.com.