Local Identities

Local talent flying high

Emma Pritchard Jessica Robertson can gaze down at the world without her feet leaving the ground. Courtesy of her drones, camera, and superb eye for detail, Ms Robertson sees and captures breathtaking images that most people never have an opportunity to view. A professional photographer, cinematographer and CASA certified UAV operator, aka drone pilot, Ms Robertson’s impressive talents are quickly ensuring the 30-year-old from Yamba is highly sought after for her quality images and astounding visual recordings. Through her business, Jessica Robertson Creative, she offers a wide range of services specialising in tourism, construction, commercial, real estate, promotional videos and 360-degree videos and virtual tours filmed with her drones. National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS), Westlawn Finance, land development and conservation groups and Clarence Valley Council have all employed her drone services to survey sites and offer clients “a birds eye view” of different locations and landscapes. Ms Robertson has also worked with NBN and produced commercials for local businesses including Sunshine Sugar. In 2019 Exit Films, an Australian film production company, used footage filmed with her drone to produce a promotion video for the annual NRL premiership campaign. While she loves the opportunity to explore new areas of creativity and increase her growing clientele, Ms Robertson relishes every chance she gets to explore the world around her from a new perspective, especially in her own backyard. She also loves to share what she captures with her community. Earlier this year, Clarence Valley residents were treated to a spectacular 360-degree view of a section of the Pacific Highway duplication between Woolgoolga and Ballina when Ms Robertson drove from the Iluka turnoff to the recently opened section between Maclean and Tyndale with her camera recording while secured to the roof of her vehicle. The video was subsequently uploaded onto Ms Robertson’s website and has proven to be extremely popular with viewers. “I wanted people to experience what it is like, to show the progress of the highway upgrade,” Ms Robertson said, adding the 360-degree recording also allows people to properly view the surrounding landscape in detail. “People have really loved seeing the footage. “It’s always great to be able to look at things and see things from a different point of view and it’s also great to be able to share it with others.” Ms Robertson has always been creative and passionate about her work. Her love of photography began when she first picked up a camera as an eight-year-old and developed a keen interest in photographing nature, especially bees. Crediting renowned natural historian Sir David Attenborough as an early inspiration to her, Ms Robertson furthered her own education in photography with many hours invested in reading books, watching educational clips on YouTube and following the work of other well-loved photographers, especially Steve Parish. After finishing high school in Maclean, she completed a Diploma of Graphic Design on the Gold Coast and focused her attention on fine tuning and developing her photography skills. When asked how her love of photography evolved, Ms Robertson said she wanted to share what she was seeing with other people. She also admits she finds it hard to choose a favourite photo from her vast and expanding collection, but she always knows the image she wants to capture with her Nikon d850. “It’s instinctive,” she said. “Every now and then you get a fluke shot, but then you see a beautiful sunset over Yamba or cane fires burning and every image has a different ambience, especially the ones you rarely get to see and they’re the ones that are very special to capture and share.” Ms Robertson has applied her photography skills in many areas including fashion, nature, tourism, travel and real estate. “I love being creative and trying my hand at new things.” she said. Although she started her professional career as a photographer, Ms Robertson has made a name for herself as one of the best drone operators in the Clarence Valley. It was during her work in real estate that she first recognised the advantages of using drones. “I thought drones could be very effective in marketing a house and showcasing its proximity to town with additional viewing,” she said. “Once I started working with drones and added them to my business, it skyrocketed.” In the three years since acquiring her remote pilot licence and aeronautical radio operator certificate and qualifying as a drone pilot, Ms Robertson has never looked back. The main drones Ms Robertson currently uses are an Inspire 2 which can travel at 100km in sports mode and a DJI Mavic 2 Pro which has a top speed of 72km. “The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is more compact and portable and it’s a good for those jobs when I’m working around trees as it has more senses built into it,” she said. Both drones enable her to expand her creativity within her field of work. Recently, Ms Robertson walked 16km through bushland between Angourie and Red Cliff while operating her DJJ Mavic 2 Pro overhead to film a land observation project for NPWS. “It was really interesting to see the changes in the landscape from above as I walked,” she said. “There is so much amazing stuff out there that I’ve discovered since I started working with drones because they really do give you a whole new perspective. “Previously, I didn’t even know about the Everlasting Swamp north of Grafton until I flew one of my drones across it. “When you’re using a drone, you feel like you’re flying because you feel like you’re in the air when you’re still on the ground. “It’s a great part of my job and I can’t wait to share more images, upcoming projects and create more virtual tours online to share with the community.”