We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Kaszton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emily, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I grew up in a small little city in Orange County, about 30 minutes inland from the ocean. I have three older sisters, so technically I have four moms. Growing up, my sisters were my idols and I admired how well they did in school and how beautiful they were. Meanwhile, I was marching to the beat of my own drum. I had a speech impediment in middle school, struggled with a C+ grade average and I distinctly remember a teacher telling my parents I would be lucky to graduate high school. It was easy for me to get deterred, especially when I was mistaken for a boy after my mom gave me a bowl haircut. On weekend’s I would host my own tv show with my dad’s video camera, play video games with neighborhood boys and get lost outdoors until my mom yelled for me to come home.
All of these life experiences shaped who I am today. The teacher’s remark to my parents fueled me to prove her wrong and I bumped that C+ up to a B-. I went to speech therapy twice a week until I no longer needed to and luckily my hair finally grew out. My fondness for visual storytelling never faded and I pursued a career in film and photography. After attending Brooks Institute, I decided that I wanted to continue forging my own path and start a portrait photography business. It was great, until I lost that spark that I once had and I knew I needed to try something different. My happiness has always come first and I am relentless in bettering myself and doing things that I love, even if they are out of the norm.
When I was introduced to droning, that was it. I was obsessed and it lit my heart on fire. My entrepreneurial mind quickly got to work about how I could apply my business skills to this new love. Flash forward to today – I’m a commercial drone pilot and also a drone educator helping others find their wings too!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I rely on my classic training and technical education from photography school as the foundation to capture images that are visually and emotionally captivating. I like to think that I balance my formal education with my passion for storytelling to produce images that have a unique edge to them. Oftentimes, they are vivid in color and have sharp clarity. But to me, this isn’t what sets me apart from others in the field. Anyone can be creative with a drone and Photoshop. What really sets me apart is my knack of bringing together amazing experiences with educational instruction. Years ago, I was invited to jump on a boat and fly over whales off the Southern California coast. It was an incredible and life changing experience for me. Seeing whales from the air is exhilarating and something that I wanted others to experience for themselves. I teamed up with Captain Dave’s Safari in Dana Point and created the Droning with Whales and Dolphins workshop. It’s a full day of land and boat activities filled with plenty of flights, small group coaching for beginner to advanced drone pilots, and of course beautiful marine life. You can learn more about it at thedroneangel.com.
I really enjoy helping others as a drone educator. In the fall of 2019 I developed and taught a drone course at a local community college. It was a rewarding experience and it made me realize that I wanted to start helping others on a larger scale, so I created a YouTube channel in the beginning of 2020. I’m still new to it all, but I’m excited to learn more from the industry, help others, and see where it takes me. I’m “The Drone Angel” on there, if you want to check it out!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
For a fun day in Orange County, I would have to start with sunrise at the wedge in Newport Beach. It’s my favorite spot in Orange County to fly and the sun rising over Corona Del Mar is stunning. I like to perch up on the lifeguard tower and chill with a cup of coffee and a breakfast burrito from Alta Coffee on the peninsula. A quick drive to the Balboa Island Ferry to take us over to Balboa Island. From there we would drive to Crystal Cove Park and do a 1.5 hour hike that leads us to some incredible views of Laguna Beach. Next, we would drive down PCH to Laguna Beach and enjoy drinks and lunch at Rooftop Lounge. Downtown Laguna is heaven for people watching, so we would have to explore town a bit. Huntington Beach, aka Surf City, is our last stop. We would enjoy a beach day either napping or playing games before enjoying a sunset dinner at BLK Earth Sea Spirits. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to give a shoutout to my dad. He always had a camera strapped to his hand during my childhood, so jumping into photography was easy. His obsession with capturing meaningful moments was passed on to me. He is also a self made entrepreneur and he inspired me to always be true to myself and believed in me when I doubted myself.
For any BTS shots: Matt Gucci