Let’s rewind to 2015. I had just bought a drone because they were pretty new to the industry, and I thought it would be a fun toy to have. Of course, to justify the purchase, I told my wife that I could make the money back by doing some photography/videography work with it.
Now, at that point, I was working a full-time job in education and didn’t even have a camera. Photography wasn’t at all on my radar. Within the first two months of owning the drone, though, I got my FAA Remote Pilots License, started my Michigan Sky Media, LLC business, learned all I could about photography and drones by watching YouTube videos, and did enough jobs to pay for the drone plus some. It was a fun little side job doing some real estate media work, and that’s all I thought it would ever be.
In the spring of 2016, my best friend had just gotten two personal watercrafts and we had the genius idea of taking them to Turnip Rock, along with my drone, to get some photos. Mind you, it was April in Michigan.
The water was freezing and it was just 40 degrees outside, but I was determined to get some drone photos of this Michigan gem. The water was rough that day, but we had a one-track mind on getting to the rock. After the three-mile ride, we arrived at Turnip Rock. The waves were white-capping on the shore nearby. While my buddy was freaking out about his new skis and the fact that we were getting tossed around like dolls, I was focused on getting my drone shots. After a few minutes — I’d only taken three photos — my buddy had had enough and was ready to head back to the mainland, as he was worried about his skis.
It was that very moment that I realized I may be able to do something more than aerial photography for real estate. The excitement, the thrill, and the beauty of Turnip Rock and Lake Huron that day pushed me in an entirely different direction. As a lifelong resident of the Great Lakes State, I’ve seen and traveled Michigan, but I’d never seen our majestic state from the viewpoint of a drone.
Fast-forward to 2022. I quit my job in education almost two years ago, and have grown Michigan Sky Media into my full-time gig. My family and I live in Traverse City, and continue to explore and enjoy our beautiful state at every opportunity.
Whenever I see this photo of Turnip Rock that I took a few years back, it takes me to the moment I fell in love with Michigan landscape photography, exploring, and living on the wild side.
P.S. Turnip Rock is in Michigan’s Thumb area near Pointe Aux Barques and the Port Austin region. Experienced paddlers head here regularly to check out the funnel-shaped Turnip Rock, which juts dramatically above Lake Huron’s surface. The attraction has been undercut by wave action over the years, so its top sections are larger than its base (like a turnip), thus its name. For more information on the Port Austin area, visit portaustinarea.com.
Tyler Liepprandt runs Michigan Sky Media. Visit michiganskymedia.com for more information.
Text and Photo by Tyler Liepprandt