The drone videographer says living the dream simply started with sliding into some DMs.
Since graduating college, photographer and drone videographer Jeremiah Davis has spent his days traveling across the world with top music professionals, without ever having to fill out a job application.
The 23-year-old was able to use Instagram to connect with influential music producers and talent, leading to a job that allowed him to traverse the globe with the likes of the Chainsmokers.
Known as ThatOneBlondKid, Davis has also shot projects for G-Eazy, produced content alongside the crew of MTV's “The Buried Life," and is soon on the way to starting his own travel-related series on Snapchat.
Seeing his older brother take up photography in high school, where he would make anywhere from a few hundred to $1,000 on personal projects, inspired Davis to get into photography.
After picking up skills in photography, Davis found an interest in shooting video during college. He went on a backpacking trip in Spain, shooting and editing clips he shot on a GoPro to refine his skills.
He got his hands on a drone while working with the Be Perfect Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to those suffering from spinal cord injuries, and found shooting on them came quite naturally to him, thanks to the hand-eye coordination he honed while playing baseball.
He also picked up a few tricks.
"You have to be hyper aware of everything in your surroundings because you can go to an open space, like a football field, and think you're fine, but the second you go outside of it you have power lines, birds, and trees to consider," he said.
Davis also recommends using the automatic setting to pick a point of interest as your radius, easily allowing you to create a perfect circle around that point while you can adjust the speed to capture smooth camera pans and the slow-motion cinematic shots people often try to take from inside of helicopters.
Towards the end of college, Davis decided to start creating and publishing content every day on Instagram, dedicating himself to his work.
“The first step is getting over the fact that it’s actually OK to put content up on your Instagram,” Davis said. "When you’re in college or even in your circle of friends, the person who puts a little too much effort into their Instagram can be frowned upon for trying too hard, but the second you start making money, traveling off of it, or meeting influential people, that changes."
He also said not to let the number of followers you have hold you back.
“Even if you have 400 followers, post every day, because that’s 400 people that are seeing your material," he said. "You could wait forever for a following, but ultimately people follow you because they’re interested in what you’re doing.”
Davis also started reaching out to one to three (and sometimes eight) people every day through Instagram’s direct messaging feature before going to bed, and found the timing helped.
“When you’re networking with people in big cities like New York or Los Angels, they’re typically lying on their phones at 11 at night,” Davis said. “This way, they get the message when they’re not obliterated with work and could actually respond."
While he would sometimes not hear back, he didn't let that stop him.
“Following up is the key to everything and it can be as brief as saying something like, ‘Hey, circling back on this’ or ‘Hey, just want to bump this back up on your feed,'” Davis explained.
That’s what he did with videographer Rory Kramer, who soon introduced him to the Chainsmokers and 80 percent of his current client base.
He messaged Kramer congratulating him on working with Justin Bieber on the “I'll Show You” video and said he’d love to collaborate sometime.
He didn’t hear back, so after a few days, he followed up and took a different approach.
“I told him that I realized he didn’t have any drone footage, sent him a sample of my work, and told him if he was interested to let me know and I could shoot for free,” Davis said.
Within two days, he was shooting with Kramer in Malibu.
He took a similar approach with Dave Lingwood of "The Buried Life," spotting a photo Lingwood posted in Malibu on Instagram the same day and sending him a direct message with a 15-second video of what he shot for Kramer.
The message resonated with Lingwood, who soon asked him to get together to shoot.
"A lot of people have talent and skill and know someone, but aren’t communicating this clearly,” Davis explained. “It’s basically about researching to find out what the company needs and seeing what you’ve done that correlates and lines up with that."
By finding this “white space,” as he describes it, you’re able to offer something that the individual or company isn’t already working with and can use.
It’s also about timing.
“I’m on tour right now with the Chainsmokers and people hit me up and say they want to help out, but if people had done that before or had known that I was associated with them beforehand, maybe I could have found a way for them to be incorporated,” he said.
Though Instragram's direct message feature isn't as new as it was when Davis started and can be more crowded today, the same tips can apply.
Though Davis' current work can be tough, it also gives him the opportunity to explore incredible locations and experiences around the world.
“The amount of work and how fast you have to work is pretty gnarly with being on the road and late nights and it’s not something you can do when you’re 35 or 40, so it makes sense to do it now,” he said. “It’s the same amount of work as going to an average job, but the plus side is you travel to places like Mexico, meet cool people, and have a product to show with your name on it."