6 min read

After A Tragic Accident Left Him A Quadriplegic, Jaimen Hudson Found a Passion for Drone…

I stumbled upon Jaimen Hudson’s Instagram feed by chance and discovered the most stunning aerial photos and videos visuals of a coastline…
After A Tragic Accident Left Him A Quadriplegic, Jaimen Hudson Found a Passion for Drone…
Source: @jaimenhudson on Instagram

After A Tragic Accident Left Him A Quadriplegic, Jaimen Hudson Found a Passion for Drone Photography

I stumbled upon Jaimen Hudson’s Instagram feed by chance and discovered the most stunning aerial photos and videos visuals of a coastline that I’ve ever laid eyes on. When I learned his backstory, I was inspired and wanted to learn more. When Jaimen was just 17 years old, he was in a motorbike accident that took away his ability to walk. In the eleven years since, he’s rehabilitated, started a family, and figured out a way to soar through the lens of a drone he controls from his wheelchair. His portraits of natural scenes in Western Australia have captivated millions of people across the world. I talked with him about how he got started, his process, and how drone photography has changed his life.

JG: You have some of the most epic drone videography I’ve ever seen. What’s your process for setting up some of these amazing shots?

JH: Thank you so much! My process really begins by being persistent. I try and roam the coastline every morning before work, in search of different wildlife. 90% of the time I don’t see anything, but it is the 10% that I do see something that makes it all worth it.

As soon as I encounter a scenario with the wildlife, we pull the van over, and I get my support worker to jump out and grab my drone. I try and set it up as quickly as possible and get it up in the air.

After that, it’s just a matter of me trying to position the drone to capture the beauty as it unfolds in front of me. That is one thing I truly love about wildlife photography. There are no second chances. You have to do your best to capture everything smoothly and cinematically, in one go. If you miss it, better luck next time, as some of these scenes/encounters are over and done within a matter of minutes. When I am lucky enough to capture something amazing, I race home and download the footage. There’s no celebrating until it’s backed up.

JG: The light and the color you capture seem unreal. Are any of these shots #nofilter and just regular days in Western Australia, or is there a lot of photoshopping happening to make these sunsets that magical?

JH: The sunsets we encounter over here in the West truly are breathtaking! Sometimes photos don’t do them justice. I do shoot everything in RAW though, which dulls the image slightly. In Lightroom, I then just try and push the colours back to what they were originally.Source: @jaimenhudson on Instagram

JG: Dolphins seem to like performing for you. Do you have a special relationship with our marine cousins, or perhaps some secret dolphin drone program?

JH: Haha! I wish I had some agreement with them. It would make life a lot easier.

Sometimes when I encounter them, they are in an extremely playful mood; this is usually when there is a decent sized swell for them to surf. Other times, they are just extremely docile and moving along slowly. If they are in one of their docile moods, I watch them for a while to ensure I’m not going to miss anything; and then, I keep on looking.

JG: Can you tell us a little bit about you?

JH: Absolutely. I am 28 years old and I feel very lucky to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. From a photographer/filmmaker perspective, it would be hard to find a more beautiful coastline to capture.

I grew up around the coast and have a strong connection with it. My earliest memories are of days out on the ocean, while my parents taught students how to dive. When I was ten years old, it was my turn to be one of those students — and I have not looked back since. When I was 17 years old though, I had a motorbike accident that rendered me a quadriplegic. I felt like my life came crashing down in one fell swoop.

Eleven years later, I am living an amazing life. I am married, I love my job, and I have just welcomed a baby boy into the world.Source: @jaimenhudson on Instagram

JG: Congratulations! What is your job?

JH: I work for our family business, which is based around tourism. We have a boat that we use for island cruises, fishing charters, and diving charters. We also have accommodation here in Esperance.

JG: How did you get started in videography/photography?

JH: After my accident, I found it difficult to find a hobby that was accessible to me in a wheelchair. By fate one day, I was sitting at work, and a gentleman came into the shop and wanted to go down and photograph Lake Hillier — this is the pink lake you may have seen in some of my videos and images. My family operates a boat tour company, and the lake is located 130 km away from the nearest jetty. It is very difficult to access, which is why he required us to take him down there. It turns out that he was the Chief Marketing Officer for DJI at the time. He showed me some of the footage, and I was immediately blown away by the cool perspective it gave you. Eventually, in early 2015, I purchased my own drone and have not looked back since. All my spare time is now spent wanting to capture and share the scenes I encounter.

JG: Would you like to turn photography from hobby into profession?

JH: I do it both as a hobby and professionally currently. I feel I have a really great balance between loving it passionately still, being able to work in my regular job and then also do professional roles. I feel if I did it constantly I may fall out of love with it.

I sell my prints and calendars through my website www.jaimen.com.au I have also been very lucky to license my footage to different documentaries and also be hired to conduct aerial film work on some of these jobs.Source: @jaimenhudson on Instagram

JG: What kind of drone/camera do you use?

JH: I use the DJI Inspire 2 with X5s camera most commonly.

I literally always have a drone on me wherever I go. It allows me to reach places that aren’t accessible to me.

JG: What tips can you share for our community on getting great drone images?

JH: My advice would be to just truly love what you are doing, be persistent. If I look back at some of my early images, I realise how far I have come. The technology is moving so quickly as well as you to capture great content utilising relatively affordable equipment.

JG: Are you interested in any other kind of photography/video besides drone photography?

JH: Recently, I have been getting into timelapse photography. I love night time-lapses with the stars. Regular photography hasn’t really been something I have looked at doing too often as I can’t hold the camera myself. I recently got an electronic gimbal set up so that I can attach it to my chair though and then drive it through my phone or tablet.

JG: You have such an inspiring story. Do you feel like drone photography could be something you could share with other people confined to a wheelchair?

JH: Thank you so much. I really appreciate that. Definitely, I feel that if people get into anything for the right reasons, then they will thoroughly enjoy it. I have helped some people that have contacted me online. Just simple things like what equipment they may be able to use.

JG: Does it feel like this drone is an extension of you in some sense?

JH: Absolutely! I feel now when I go into a local restaurant people aren’t looking at me thinking “there’s some guy in a wheelchair”. Most people know my story and really get behind my photography work. Now when I go somewhere, they think “there’s that guy that takes the drone photos”.

JG: Why are you so passionate about the ocean and marine life?

JH: Through sharing my videos and seeing the online reaction of people from countries that I’m not lucky enough to see these things regularly it really makes me appreciate them. If I can share what I am lucky enough to experience and have people resonate with it and want to come and experience these things themselves, then I am very grateful.

As I mentioned earlier, the ocean and wildlife are so unpredictable you really do have to be passionate and persistent. You also never know what you are going to encounter, so this keeps me striving to want to experience more.


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