Look up! Drones are in the sky. We recently caught up with drone enthusiast and Part 107 Certified PhotoFlight Aerial Media professional, Paula Sullivan. She captures a unique angle of Hartford and parts of Connecticut that most people can’t, from the air. Sure, drone hobbyists might be able to get a bird’s eye view once in a while, but Paula also does it for a living (partly, more on that below). Her work has been featured in media, including NBC CT, and on numerous Instagram channels and she is an ambassador for @womenwhodrone.
Paula Sullivan, 37
Occupation: Middle school Social Studies teacher
# Years: 14 years
Drone Organization: Photo Flight Aerial Media, NBC CT (Drone Ranger)
Drone Operator for approx. 2 years
What lead you to become Drone_Gurl?
“I had a personal IG and I figured my friends & family were probably sick of seeing me post zillions of drone pictures. And I also was starting to realize I wanted to be looking at other drone photographers’ work, so instead of deleting all the yoga accounts I’d been following, I figured it would just be easier to start a subsequent public drone account. Devoted entirely to aerial photography. That and of all the drone enthusiasts I’ve met in real life, I’m the only girl. Hence the handle Drone Gurl.”
What is your true passion? What drives you?
“My passion is history. The past. The story. Most posts I make of drone sites I do some cursory online investigation because I become fascinated with the place’s history. If it’s an abandoned building, what was it? A 19th century mill? What did they make there? A mental hospital built at the turn of the century? How long has it been closed? If it’s a lighthouse, what year was it built? I want to travel, I want to shoot places I’ve never seen and share them. I want to become better and better at photography. But the shortest answer is history. History is my passion.”
How can/does your work make a difference in the community/our society?
“I’d like to think that my work showcases the beauty that is my home state of Connecticut. I had a woman contact me once, she & her husband were moving to CT from Indiana and she told me that my pictures made her excited to see and explore Connecticut. As for my community, I am from Willimantic, and my beloved hometown is an oft-featured subject of my work. I love to show off its beauty because people don’t think much of my town, but it really is lovely. And I love to capture it. I am proud of my town & my state. I’d also like to think that being a woman in a field generally occupied by men is something that makes a difference in my community. Whenever I’m covering an event children will without fail come up and want to check it out. I love that it is equal parts girls and boys who want a peek at my screen. I’m proud that the little girls see a woman operating a drone.”
What generation do you identify with? Why?
“I would say that the generation that I identify with most in Generation X. Based on a google search it says Gen X-ers are individualistic (I tend to sit in front of the computer and try & figure things out on my own), I fancy myself very resourceful, I am very comfortable with technology (but I do remember when it wasn’t at our fingertips), I like to work hard but I want a balance between my work and my home life.”
If you could give advice to the next generation coming up behind you, what would you tell them?
“I would encourage the next generation to be reliable. People who can be counted on and are consistently reliable are incredibly valuable, and I think it makes you indispensable to others. I would also encourage the next generation to push themselves and step out of their comfort zone, but I they’re actually more adept at that than I was at their age! I’d say to take pride in where you came from and stay driven to learn more. Or as my Dad always said, learn something about everything and everything about something.”
Wanna be featured or know someone who should be?