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photo of Kaela Rannikar

Kaela Rannikar
The resort photographer with a license to drone.

To even consider flying a drone at Angel Fire, videographer Kaela Rannikar first needed a license. Luckily, the training required to obtain that license turned out to be a priceless addition to her already sharp skill set and has helped Kaela take Angel Fire's marketing visuals from good to great.

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Gregg: Kaela, tell us a little bit about you, your background, and how you ended up at Angel Fire.
Kaela: Well, I grew up in Minnesota, went to school for cinema production, and started my career as a photojournalist for a local news station. Eventually I moved to Albuquerque, NM for a photojournalist gig, discovered Angel Fire while participating in the 2015 Shovel Races, and here I am!

Gregg: Talk a little bit about more your role as photographer/ videographer. What does a typical day look like and how much time do you spend on photo vs video?
Kaela: It really depends on the project, but at the end of the day it’s pretty even between photo and video projects. A typical day starts early to take advantage of the prime conditions: golden hour, fresh pow and corduroy in the winter, and hero dirt in the summer. Then it’s taking the shots back to the office to create a coherent, interesting story out of the mishmash! Then it’s right into planning the next shoot.

Gregg: Talk about the drone side of capture. How often do you use a drone to get shots and did you have any experience flying drones before starting at Angel Fire?
Kaela: The drone is a really cool tool to have in my arsenal. I had only flown a drone a couple of times before Angel Fire, just recreationally, but now that I’m licensed, I try to use it at least once during every shoot. It adds a completely different perspective to all the action.

Gregg: Speaking of license, what was the process to do so and why did you decide to take that step?
Kaela: I had to be licensed for the resort to even consider letting me fly a drone on the property – the resort is a no-fly zone and doesn’t allow drones unless the pilot is properly certified. The certification process involved passing the FAA’s Airman Knowledge Test, which includes everything from recognizing weather patterns to understanding how to read aeronautical charts. So for someone with little to no previous aeronautical knowledge (like me), it meant a lot of studying!

Gregg: That’s awesome. It sounds like some of the content may have not have been quite as useful for your situation, but overall did you feel the training helped once you got behind the controls?
Kaela: Definitely! I feel that I’m a more capable and safe pilot now that I understand the rules and regulations involved with using a drone in airspace.

Gregg: Have a few favorite stills or videos you’ve captured since then you’re most proud of?
Kaela: Yes! The snowmaking shots (that got your attention) were pretty amazing to me, since I’ve never seen Angel Fire Resort’s (or any) snowmaking from that view.

Gregg: Any advice for resort marketers or photographers/videographers thinking of adding a drone to their arsenal?
Kaela: For any visual media person considering getting a drone: It adds such a powerful and unique perspective to any project,and your audience will be instantly wow’ed. Just please know your stuff – one dumb move affects all of us!

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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