Flying over Earth with @ralics

Christopher Rusev talks about drone photography and fake followers

Have you ever dreamed of flying? I know I always have. Just being able to see what’s up from a different and distant point of view and experiencing pure freedom. That’s why I asked Chris or as most people know him – @ralics some questions. His profile is basically a flight over Earth. I wonder how did that feel and here is what he said:

How did you get into drone photography?

This is one of those questions that you’d expect I know the answer of but I never asked myself. I remember it was 2016 and I attended a @lensbible meet up in London, met a few creatives, checked them on Instagram and they were already posting unique perspective shots from above. I just remember craving so badly to be able to add my own spice to similar shots. Felt like I even knew where I am gonna fly once I got one. Saved some money, got myself the Mavic Pro, the first one, I still have it today and I feel like it does all I need it to do. There are far better drones in terms of specs and performance but I am a firm believer that tools are just tools.

I always feel so good when I create something I am really proud of with what happens to be outdated tech in late 2019. I mean it is weird but it motivates me to squeeze the best out of what the bird can do. Before I shift a lot further from the question, think this is a nice little story about how I started in the first place.

How do you choose the locations that you take photos of? Tell us a little bit about your process.

90% of the times when I come up with an idea for a shot is simply while driving past the spot. I love driving, quite often I therapy drive aimlessly around, nearby where I live, just taking roads I have never taken and trust me you would be surprised if you start doing it, regardless of where you live. Exploration is to blame for most of the shots that you see on my timeline.


The rest around 10% are part of a long process where I would open Google Earth Satellite mode and start hunting for interesting shapes and roads, parks, roundabouts, anything that I would find aesthetically pleasing as a sketch. Then I would just drive down there, and start using the juice off my drone batteries and visualise those “sketches”. There are probably a couple of shots where I simply copy create what I have seen from another creator because I want to do it better than them or just want to have that same shot. You would hear how you have to be unique and not copy and so on. I think that copying is good for you as a creator too, everything done in the right amount has something to teach you and will eventually make you better at what you do. 

You seem to be very social media savvy, how did that happen?

It happened by being fake on social media. Did I say it out loud? Yeah, I had faked up my previous account to 56k followers.

All sourced by an automated system that would do its tricks to bring you between 100-200 followers per day. It simply got to the point where I could not see how that challenges me. I would get feedback for my work, not certain whether that is what someone thinks about what I do or it’s simply what they preloaded for their automated system to comment on people’s post. I then started using software that clears my account from followers like those.

Then about a year ago I decided it would be a better idea instead of contaminating my account with third-party apps, time and time again, to simply start clean, from scratch. That’s the nowadays @ralics which I have had for about a year now and I feel a lot more content with all the real connections I have created here.

I know these are actual people who follow for the right reasons. Long story short, being fake and then taking the right decisions was all a part of a process of knowing how it all works, the fake and the real, to be able to choose how I want to do it and to keep going as consistently as I can.


You don’t get too personal with your social media, what is one thing that you always wanted to share about yourself but never found the right time for it?

I have tried a few times, did a few stories. But all in all, I do not feel too comfortable in front of a camera. I am going to change that real soon. Would you watch me if I get myself embarrassed on my very own youtube channel? You are currently waiting for me to send you the interview back and I am delaying it simply because I could never figure out an answer to this question. Being a person who doesn’t share a lot about his personality, there are so many things that I could have wanted to share, too many to have one standing out.


What is your advice to those who want to pursue photography professionally?

The answer to this one can also partly answer the last question.

Do not listen to others, what they expect of you, how good or bad they think you are. It is all about self-awareness and happiness. If you know that you suck at what you do, yet you enjoy it to bits, keep doing that anyway! It is all about what makes you happy, not what people and society expect you to do.

You studied to be an accountant but now you feel like having a go with pottery. Make it work, do it and realise for yourself whether you should pursue it or not. It has been the same with me and photography. I graduated in Computer Science and I keep hearing comments like “but you spent so much money to get that degree, it is a well-paid industry”. Those comments transform to “did you take this picture for real, you are so talented”. I decided I want to transition from one to the other and it took me roughly five years to do so. But oh boy does it make me happy! Well-paid and well being do not always go hand in hand. So yeah, to the advice, do what makes you happy and make it work for yourself. 


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