Pilot Spotlight: Interview with Yasmin Tajik
Company: Yasmin Tajik Photography
Location: Fountain Hills, Arizona, US
Tell us about yourself.
I am a professional photographer and a drone pilot. I started my photography business over 10 years ago where I focused on running a retail studio photographing portraits, weddings, and events. About 5 years ago, I told my Mom I needed to do something different with my business, and that's when I started documentary photography.
Through that avenue of my business, I focus on humanitarian and social causes in regard to women and girls. When not photographing a story, you can find me traveling the world, reading, playing the piano, scuba diving, and spending time with my family which includes my goldendoodle Zayn.
What inspired you to begin flying drones, and what made you want to enter the industry as a drone pilot?
As a photographer, I feel I was exposed to drones very early on to their release in the market, however mostly what I saw them being used for was a lot of guys shooting landscapes. At that time I didn't see a need for owning one until I went on a trip with some girlfriends to Iceland and 2 of them brought drones. That was my first exposure to drones up close, and that's when the wheels starting turning. I, then, dedicated an area of my business where I could utilize that tool in my storytelling.
What were you doing before you started flying drones, and what made you make the transition?
I am a professional photographer, and although I was aware of drones I didn't feel they were anything I needed until I saw them first hand. Then I started to think of areas I could utilize the drone to tell stories in a way I hadn't before. So, I jumped in and bought my first drone and haven't looked back since.
I've been lucky to get involved with the Women Who Drone community where I was able to represent them at a few conferences last year, as well as travel all over the world with my drone. My drone has opened up seeing the world in a new way, which also translated into telling stories from a new perspective.
What drone(s) are you currently flying, and what drone accessories do you love?
I have a Mavic 2 Pro and a Tello. My Mavic is my go-to for anything fun and commercial. I love how easily it folds down for portability, which is key for me because of all the traveling I do. My Tello is used as a tool for demonstrations and for teaching kids about coding with drones. Some key accessories I have are ND filters for the Mavic and an iPad mini which gives me a bigger screen to view as I'm flying.
What is your favorite feature on your drone and why?
I love the high quality of imagery I can produce, both photos (22-megapixel) and 4K videos, and that comes all packed in this small footprint that folds down for ease of travel.
What drone images are you most proud of and why?
I live in the desert and most of my footage is from that type of climate. But I am really drawn toward anything with water, particularly the ocean.
Have you learned any valuable lessons from being in the drone industry that you can share with our female drone community?
Yes, absolutely! I feel that even though we are a smaller percentage of drone pilots out there, together we are a rising tide that is just as equally capable. Through hard work, networking and really going after jobs and opportunities, we can and are just as good as anyone else in the industry. I feel so so fortunate to have found WWD because it has become this wonderful community where we have one goal, which is to help each other and make this industry great.
Whether it's from a creative, commercial, or humanitarian perspective, tell us about the most memorable drone flight you have piloted thus far.
Wow, that's a tough one because each flight has its own purpose or goal. Early on in my drone career, it was mostly to gain experience and test out and master how to control my drone. By pushing my limits, I can test not only how to manipulate the drone, but also push out of my comfort zone and learn to be a better pilot.
I had an incident last year where I was flying in windy conditions and almost didn't get my drone back, but was lucky enough another pilot was with me and helped out land it safely without any damage.
What would you say to women and girls about the drone industry to spark their interest in getting involved?
I think initially when women and girls hear about drones they think of them as toys, or an extension of playing video games, but there is so much more. I find that if I can share about the vast industries that are employing drones and drone pilots, it opens their eyes to the possibilities of a career path, or of something new they can implement into their current career. For girls, it is very important to get hands-on training right away, as well as educating them about different uses, such as SAR, humanitarian, agriculture, inspections, etc.
What excites you most about more women joining the drone industry?
I think it levels the playing field. Research has shown that when women are treated the same as men and paid the same as men in the workplace, companies become more profitable, have lower attrition rates, higher employee retention rates, and higher job satisfaction among employees. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it's like a rising tide that raises all ships. It benefits all of us in a positive way.
Do you have any drone tips & tricks you can share with our audience?
I think the best is to get out there as often as possible to practice. When I was young, I had to practice the piano for an hour a day, and I feel it should be the same with the drone. Master the piloting of the drone first, and then you can learn about capturing impactful footage through photos and videos.
When I first started, I spent a lot of time going out with a friend of mine who is a master drone pilot. A lot of the time I wouldn't even fly, I would be looking over his shoulder, watching, and learning. Then, eventually, I launched my drone and utilized what I learned from watching him, into my own footage.
What's the best way for our readers to get in touch with you?
Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you?
I would encourage anyone who is thinking about drones, to just give it a try. Once you get it in your hands, you may find it addicting and even better if you can find a way to utilize it in other aspects of your life to help others.
Yasmin Tajik is a portrait and documentary photographer, and FAA certified drone pilot who is based in Fountain Hills, Arizona. Her humanitarian and documentary work covers issues on social causes and civil rights, including local stories on refugee resettlement, asylum seekers, sex-trafficking, and international stories such as gender equality in Iceland and the rise of Islam in Cuba.
She has a B.A. in Biology and an MBA and has been featured in media outlets such as Nat Geo Wild, Las Vegas Review Journal, and Huffington Post.