Long dismissed as the clunky playthings of techie voyeurs and black-ops middle management, a certain stigma may still hover over unmanned aerial vehicles, otherwise known as drones.
Jamie Goodwick has put in work to change that.
Since 2017, when Goodwick launched Portland’s first aerial photography specialist firm, Portlandrone, its early fly-over gigs for realtors have given way to widescreen cinematography for an elite array of corporate clients, including Nike and Adidas, and film and TV productions for the likes of Trinkets and Grimm.
“I saw an opportunity to start a business,” Goodwick says. “Slowly but surely, the clients got bigger—Netflix, the Discovery Channel—and, soon enough, we’re the go-to resource for folks coming in from L.A. or New York.”
A former track athlete, Goodwick was at work last spring on his dream assignment, shooting the Olympic trials at University of Oregon’s Hayward Field for NBC, when COVID effectively shuttered the entertainment industry. That spurred him forward in his pro bono archival work with nonprofit civil rights foundation Don’t Shoot PDX: Enlisting his fiancée as visual observer, Goodwick documented the swiftly mushrooming early June protests through a bird’s-eye lens.
After The New York Times reached out to Portlandrone on the day that crowds marching across the Burnside Bridge grew to an estimated five figures, Goodwick’s aerial photo would lead the Sunday edition. Though he was one of about 100 U.S. drone operators authorized by the FAA to fly directly over crowds, Goodwick stayed consistently ahead or behind the throngs. The resulting imagery offered both a stirring illustration of the sheer numbers engaged and a much-needed spotlight on the demonstration’s peaceful intentions.
“You never know what you’ll get when you put [a drone] up in the air,” Goodwick says. “It was really terrible weather that day—raining, pouring—but then, 6 pm came around and the skies opened up. My concentration is on making sure that nobody’s harmed, but there was that moment: I looked down, saw what I was capturing, and realized this was way bigger. I didn’t do anything other than fly a drone safely from a distance, but we felt really blessed to be a part of something we believed in so strongly, even in a very small way.”