Your Stories2015-08-14

Mark BakerAerial photography
Staffordshire, UK

“beating depression and finding a new way of looking at life ”

After nearly two decades of battling with depression I'd reached the lowest point of my life in early 2013. I was lucky that I had a family who loved me and professional help to support me in rebuilding my life. I had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and slowly began to make sense of the euphoric highs and crushing lows that had defined my life since my teenage years. The medication was the first step in stabilising my mood, but it wasn't the answer to help me find meaning and enjoyment in life again. I loved my family deeply but accepted that I couldn't live for them alone. I had to find a purpose, something I could enjoy and achievable goals that I could work towards. It sounded selfish at the time but to be a better husband, father and friend I had to do something for myself. Fast forward to the summer of 2013, and the remote controlled 'UFO' that I had just watched fly hundreds of feet into the night sky. I had taken my family camping to give us some time together away from the stress of everyday life. As we watched the sunset over the ocean we heard the sounds of an electric motor followed by a set of green and red lights rocketing into the sky. I was instantly intrigued and had to find out more... It turned out that Chris was flying the original DJI phantom with an fpv goggle set up. As he passed the goggles to me and explained the Phantom's features I had my eureka moment. I'd studied photography at school and college and promised myself that I would come back to it as a career. Life had got in the way of that dream, but it was a fire that I'd never properly been able to put out. The thought of having a camera that could go anywhere was amazing. GPS technology, gimbal stabilisation, simple flight controls - it looked too good to be true! Even after we got back home I couldn't stop thinking about the possibilities. I knew I couldn't rush ahead and run the risk of crashing and burning, so I started to do some serious research and planned how I could save the money to make my dreams a reality. It was always going to be a DJI, and in the summer of 2014 I took the plunge and bought a Phantom 2 with the zenmuse h3-3d and an fpv package. Updates and calibrations complete and I was airborne within a couple of hours! The feeling of freedom was sensational. Over open heathland I built up my confidence, first in GPS mode, then later in ATTI. Seeing the world from an entirely new angle was inspiring and it wasn't long before I fired up my gopro and started to put my photography skills to the test. I began to share some of my first shots in the UAV photography page on Facebook. Looking back some of them are quite embarrassing! At this point I should mention some of the names who inspired me and pushed me forward. To have some of the leading aerial photographers sharing their work was pretty cool, but the fact they were so willing to take the time to comment and offer advice was amazing. People like Romeo Durscher, Darren Reichel, Aldryn Estacio, Barry Blanchard, Mike Cairns, Jeff Foster, Philip Lima and too many more to mention. These guys are world leaders in their field but still grounded enough to be part of a really exciting community. Some of my photography began to get a bit of attention locally and online. People were asking me to shoot cool locations for them, and in September 2014 I was asked to film some video for the Football Association at their brand new headquarters. I was terrified but excited when I arrived and saw the scale of the site! My nerves melted as I put my Phantom 2 through some really testing lines to get some great shots. People assumed I was already a pro, and had so many questions about this cool piece of kit! I decided that in 2015 I would try to build a career in UAV photography. I was determined that I would do it by setting achievable goals and establishing myself without taking out big loans or risky finance. Naughty Cat Media was born and incorporated as a company. In March 2015 I will be sitting my flight exams and will hopefully be an officially sanctioned commercial UAV pilot in the following weeks. I'm building up contacts, friendships and experience. I still have my 'day job' but I'm hoping that my aerial photography will become an ever bigger part of my life. My company tagline is 'change your perspective'. This isn't just a throwaway slogan but a literal comment on the work I do, as well as having deep significance to me for the perspective that my photography has given to my life and my recovery. I'm happier, more balanced and optimistic than I've ever been. My family support me and my children are learning to fly. I don't think it will be long before we have a pink Phantom and a camo one around the house! As cool as it would be to say "last night a DJI saved my life..." there is a lot more to it than that. What DJI have given me is a way to make a living doing something I love. I will probably never be a millionaire, maybe I won't ever fully give up my day job... but I have a chance to do something amazing, to see the world in a whole new way and to meet some of the coolest people around. I've photographed palaces, golf courses, forests, lakes and properties and developments of all shapes and sizes. Even when I'm not working I'm out flying, and I already have my eye on an Inspire 1. For the first time in a long time the future looks bright and my life has a true sense of perspective. - Mark Baker ( )