Aerial drone photographer sees Boone from different perspective

Laura Boaggio

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When an App State alumnus off-handedly Googled “cool go-pro mounts” to look for new ways to capture snowboarding camera shots, the top result was a man using a DJI Phantom I, one of the first commercial drones available. 

When Jordan Nelson saw the video, he said it inspired him to open his first credit card account to purchase his own drone for photography. 

“A few people said I should make a Facebook page just for the aerial photos I took, so I did that,” Nelson said. 

The hobby quickly turned into a business for Nelson, and clients primarily found him through word of mouth.

Nelson, who graduated in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in geology, is the founder of Nelson Aerial Productions, a Boone-based aerial cinematography and photography company.  The company was one of the first in the country to pass the Part 107 written exam for commercial drone usage when it started six years ago. 

The Part 107 exam ensures that people who fly drones for business have an educated background in drone and airspace safety.

Currently, Nelson Aerial Productions has flown around 2,737 flights, and almost 10 million views on Youtube. 

Nelson has traveled across the United States to work on different projects for his company.

 “My most recent long distance job was about two weeks ago in Pennsylvania,” Nelson said. “It was a small town on the Susquehanna River — an old coal plant that was being imploded.” 

At the time the plant was built in 1948-49, it was the world’s largest coal power plant, Nelson said. Phase One of the implosion happened Oct. 25, and the second phase is scheduled for the spring. 

Nelson said implosions are his favorite to capture — he has shot 15 of them across the East Coast. The Winkler Residence Hall in June 2014 was his first building implosion, which he said is memorable to him. 

“It’s pretty cool to get paid to film something that is so exciting and fun to see,” Nelson said. 

Nelson has also photographed App State volleyball, wrestling, baseball and aerial images of the university on his own time. He said Boone is a unique area to shoot because it is photogenic in every season, unlike other landscapes around the country. 

“Every direction you look, even on the ground, is photo-worthy,” Nelson said. “When you get in the sky, it’s the same thing — there’s so many places to film and capture.”