The Ocean as her Muse: Q&A with Drone Photographer Camilla Dellion

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One look at Camilla Dellion’s photography, and it’s obvious that she was not meant to have her feet planted on land. Her fascination with the sea and the sky is obvious through her photo and video work.

Where others see nothing but open ocean, she sees potential to capture marine life from above. Where others see palm fronds, she sees patterns. When others see a view out of a window, she wonders what would happen if she flew through it?

We’ve caught up with Camilla to talk about what inspires her as she captures views from above.

The Salt Sirens: Hey Camilla! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. We get so excited whenever you post on your Instagram (@CamillaDellion).

Camilla Dellion: Hey! I’m the one who’s happy, thank you for having me, what an honor! I’m so happy to hear that, thank you for your kind words! 

Your drone photography has taken you all over the world. What made you start your career as an aerial photographer and videographer?

I’m very fortunate to have been able to travel like I have been, and even more fortunate to be able to work with my biggest passion, to create beautiful content with drones! I never planned to become an aerial artist, it was something that happened before I realized it myself. 

I remember when glimpses of drone footage started to sneak in to my social media feed. I was so fascinated and mesmerized by the new perspectives drones were able to capture. But I had no idea that fascination would make me become a professional droner a couple of years later! When I bought my first drone, my only purpose was to take my travel photography to a new level. All of a sudden, after a couple of months of flying, I slid into drone videography and I was so struck by the results.

Friends and friends of friends started asking me to film and photograph their products, businesses or the services they offered and I soon started to get paid for it or get things in exchange for my services. One day I realized wow–I’m actually working as an aerial photographer and videographer. It was there and then I started my journey to make my passion for drones become my full time job. I’m not there yet, but I’m on my way! 

What do you fly? And we have to ask—does your drone have a name?

I actually have two drones that I fly regularly. My number one go-to is Mavic 2 Pro with a sharp Hasselblad camera. The second drone is a Mavic 2 Zoom which comes in handy when I’m filming animals and are able to keep a distance not to disturb or scare them. I have named them a couple of times, but drones crashe and break so I’m not sure who is who anymore, haha. But they’re all my babies.

We love the mesmerizing footage you have of the Maldives, what did a typical day in the life look like while living there?

Maldives is paradise, no doubt. Living there was like waking up in a postcard every day. On the side of my drone work I was working with boat excursions and liveaboards. I was basically in the ocean diving or snorkeling with all kinds of marine life or in the sky capturing the wonders of nature from above–all the time.

My favorite moments in the Maldives come from yoga retreats where I worked as a drone photographer and videographer. I’d follow the whole retreat. We’d do sunrise yoga on a sandbank, swim with hundreds of manta rays in the bright mid day sun, and meditate silently while the sun sets at night. Those are the days that will stay with me forever. Living in the Maldives was a living dream. The people are welcoming, warm and joyous. The people of Maldives are living off what nature provides them and I get so inspired to simplify my life whenever I’m around them. And also, the food is delicious! 

Filming marine wildlife like manta rays, dolphins, and sharks, must have been a challenge at times. How did you capture these shots? Did you scout with your drone or see these animals before launching your drone into the sky?

I would say that 90% of all my marine life captures happened unpredicted. That is the true beauty of the ocean and the privilege of flying a drone and get that perspective from above.

Most often I fly my drone to capture something I have in mind, and all of a sudden when shooting that particular thing or view I discover a moving shadow in the blue. Those are the moments when I abrupt my shooting and give the animals 100% focus! And those are also the moments when I have captured the videos that I’m most proud of today. When the stars align, magic happens <3. 

What was it like swimming with some of these majestic creatures? When you weren’t filming them, of course.

I love the ocean and the animals who live there. My most memorable marine life encounters have happened in the Maldives. I always say that Maldives is so generous. If you give your love to the nature it gives you love back. Jumping into the water and being surrounded by a pod of playful jumping dolphins, a friendly swim with a beautiful green turtle or a layback with a majestic manta ray–it’s out of this world. I have been so fortunate with encounters like these ones.

Last year, I took a flight to the other side of the world to swim with the gentle giants, humpback whales, in Tonga. That was beyond anything I have ever experienced. Those creatures are so intelligent and the connection you experience in the encounter with them can’t be described with words. And I have to say that I do love sharks. They’re not monsters, they’re misunderstood and they’re so impressive and interactive.

After many years of pain with ears and fear of diving with tanks, I earned my scuba diving license a couple of years ago. A whole new world has opened up and I’m so grateful to be able to be in that world. I love long shallow dives looking for colorful nudibranchs for hours and those deep dives where I’ve been lucky to have had encounters with tiger sharks, bull sharks and oceanic manta rays. I would encourage anyone to get themselves down there, either freediving or diving. It’s so damn magical. 

Where is your favorite place in the world to film?

Maldives. 100%. And after that, Iceland, Fiji, and Norway. And after coming home to Sweden the last 6 months, Sweden is definitely climbing the list!

How do you stay creative and inspired?

It’s easy for me to stay created and inspired since I love what I do, but of course it’s challenging sometimes. I think it’s extremely important to challenge yourself. It’s a great way to stay inspired and motivated. Get outside your comfort zone as often as you can and try new things. If it’s not for you you’ve still tried it and have the answer, then try new things! I often take on new projects that are nothing like anything I’ve tried before – tomorrow I’m shooting party buses in the central parts of Stockholm. I’m terrified, but excited. 

One of the most important things to value when it comes to inspiration and creation is to allow space for it. The key is structure. If you try to always have a clear and organised structure to work within there will be more room for getting on spontaneous tracks and finding creativity and inspiration.

What advice would you give for others who want to follow in your footsteps?

Learning by doing and trial and error. I’ve crashed so many drones and made so many mistakes along the way, but those happenings have taught me well and I will never to those mistakes again. Well, hopefully haha. You won’t learn unless you try. If you have a dream–believe in yourself and let only you be the one who sets your limits. I’ve heard “maybe you should try to do something else other than drones” so many times. Don’t give up on your dreams.

The key to success is to work hard. Work hard and always try to become best at what you do. And stay humble! <3  

Where can we follow your work and purchase your incredible prints?

I’m most active on instagram where I post my favorite pictures, some insights from my travels with the drone and some behind the scenes from projects

I’ve done. My website, is my baby where I gather all of my beloved work! My prints are only available in Sweden at the moment but that will change very soon! 

Thank you so much for reading if you’ve come this far through the interview. I really appreciate it <3.

Fast facts:
Favorite beach in the world: Lanikai Beach in Hawaii.
When I’m not flying, I’m picking mushrooms in the Swedish forests.
Artists who inspire me: Sam Kolder.
Life motto: Don’t you worry about the world coming to an end today, It’s already tomorrow in Australia! 

Thank you, Camilla!