The USA TODAY Network is using drones to expand its newsgathering efforts and provide more storytelling tools to give the audience a better experience.

In the field while using the drone to gather aerial photos and videos, there are two FAA Part 107 Certified pilots for every flight. One pilot is controlling the drone’s flight and the other pilot is controlling the camera. Communications between the two pilots is crucial to obtaining the images we need. Photographers Tariq Zehawi and John Meore worked as a drone team to capture Florence devastation from the sky.

Tariq Zehawi has been a staff photographer for The Record and since 2000. You can follow him on Instagram @tariqzehawi.

John Meore serviced as a Navy Photographer in the 80s, spent 20 years in the photo industry in technical, service and sales roles. He began working freelance in 2008, and was later hired as a staff photographer at The Journal News/ in the lower Hudson Valley of New York. You can follow John on Instagram @jmeorephoto.

Here the two are in Belhaven, N.C., flying a drone after Hurricane Florence

Here is video footage they captured from a drone flying above flooded parts of North Carolina


Edit: Thanks for all your questions. That’s all we have time for today. For more coverage, visit and

Comments: 110 • Responses: 25  • Date: 

mr-photo26 karma

Hi.. I'm interested in what kind of gear was being used? What kind of drone and what kind of camera/lenses.


usatoday24 karma

We use the DJI Inspire 2 with the Zenmuse X4S camera/gimbal - T Zehawi

usatoday18 karma

The Inspire 2 is set up for two person operation, one serving as the pilot and the other is the visual observer/camera operator. J Meore

itsDumbledumb24 karma

What permits did you have/acquire before doing your shoot?

usatoday27 karma

We are FAA Part 107 certified Pilots for sUAS. We also had to pass a North Carolina DOT test before being allowed to fly in N.C. The N.C. test we did on the night we arrived in the state. We also had to obtain authorization waivers from the FAA to fly inside of towns that have an airport near by. Also the FAA placed a 200' maximum limit on drone fight in N.C. and S.C. -T Zehawi

SimonSaysTy18 karma

Do you also pretend the wind is stronger than it is because of wet grass?

usatoday34 karma

I honestly have no idea how to pretend how wet grass can make the wind stronger! I'm not sure how wet grass effects the wind. However, our drone can fly in 20MPH winds. J Meore

Chtorrr10 karma

What are your feelings on pineapple as a pizza topping?

usatoday17 karma

Being a New Yorker, fruit is something I don't put on my pizza! But I respect your right to put what ever you wish on your pizza... J Meore

MewBladeXxX9 karma

Have you taken footage of other similar disasters in the past? How does it compare to what you’re seeing with Florence?

usatoday20 karma

I have photographed Sri Lanka after the Tsunami in 2005, Haiti after the earthquake in 2010, New Jersey for Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The devastation seems bad every time. You see broken homes, not just physical homes, but broken families. It is difficult to compare. They all wreak havoc in different ways. Using a drone for the first time in this situation has allowed me to see the destruction in a different way. Getting the aerial view was very eye opening to me. -T Zehawi

usatoday12 karma

My co-worker covered the devastation from Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico as part of a drone team. As for me, this was my first time covering a disaster with the drone. The flooding from Florence was substantial and devastating. J Meore

thisISme4now8 karma

Have you ever witnessed anything while working that really disturbed you?

usatoday13 karma

Sure... covering accidents, fires as well as stories of personal tragedy and loss are almost a normal occurrence for this profession. J Meore

thisISme4now3 karma

That has to be hard. How do you cope?

usatoday9 karma

That is a difficult question, because every assignment is different. I talk about what I witnessed/photographed with those close to me. Having a good support system in place is good to have. J Meore

usatoday5 karma

Like J Meore said, having people to talk. -T Zehawi

usatoday8 karma

The worst one, was seeing a 4 year old boy being pulled out of a burning house and given CPR on the grassy lawn while I was interning at a small newspaper in Piqua, Ohio. The boy died. That moment has always disturbed me. -T Zehawi

autisticlettuce7 karma

Taking my FAA 107 test in the next couple of weeks. Did you guys both pass the first time?

usatoday6 karma

Yes, I got an 88 -T Zehawi

usatoday5 karma

Yes, passes on the first time. We have to re-certify after two years. J Meore

Chtorrr4 karma

What other things have you photographed for news stories?

usatoday6 karma

The List is long. Do you want to know about Drone Coverage or just photography in general? -T Zehawi

Chtorrr3 karma

Drone coverage.

usatoday7 karma

I am new as a Drone pilot for USA Today network. My coverage so far has been landmarks in New Jersey. I did at corn maze in Chester, NJ. see link below. -T Zehawi

markigonewild3 karma

What's your opinion on using digital vs analog film? Is there a time & a place where analog film looks better? Cheers- hope the hurricane wasn't too crazy

usatoday10 karma

I started shooting film in 1977, and stopped in 1998. Each film had their positives and negatives, contrast level, color saturations, and ASA/ISO limitations. There is nothing like experiencing the film being developed and a print coming alive in the soup. I've spent many, many hours in a darkroom processing film and making B/W and Color prints... I miss shooting film at times, but I like the speed, and versatility of digital. For the work I do now, this is crucial. J Meore

usatoday9 karma

For news coverage, digital is best. Our deadlines are immediate for our websites. And Digital is the only way to meet those demands. But for fine art photography, I would use film and hand develop my film and prints. In my opinion the great master photographer Ansel Adams would not be able to publish his book The Negative today because the Zone System does not work with digital photography. -T Zehawi

sciencedenton2 karma

Has anyone you work with in this industry been talking about the increase in frequency of these storms over the past decade or two, or how they're expected to further increase due to global conditions?

usatoday6 karma

I'm not a meteorologist, and we don't have one on staff here at the local paper, however I am sure there have been many articles written by USA Today reporters who are more versed in the field of weather related topics. J Meore

Chrisbee0122 karma

did you get get any footage over vass nc, if so what was it looking like?

usatoday2 karma

We covered New Bern and Belhaven. Both were very flooded. J Meore

ThreatIvImidnight2 karma

what's the most intense thing you caught on tape?

usatoday9 karma

From Florence, it was seeing a yacht on someones driveway, with a demolished garage next to it. The yacht was from a dock 3 - 4 miles across the river. As well as a yacht resting against a hotel, with a for sale sign on the bow. J Meore

usatoday2 karma

With the drone it is always interesting to have a bird's eye view. Seeing the world from above has given us the ability to tell stories from a different view point. -T Zehawi

[deleted]1 karma


usatoday6 karma

I don't think it is possible to over dramatize the devastation we saw. -T Zehawi

needmorexanax-1 karma

In this day and age, where everyone is a photographer, what makes you stand our from the crowd?

usatoday24 karma

Just because everyone has a camera does not make everyone a photographer? Schooling, experience, and the quality of our work covering news, sports and feature events for publication. -T Zehawi

Hudly11-6 karma

What is you guys opinion on Alex Jones?

usatoday3 karma

Alex who... J Meore

Charrmort-9 karma

Do you like roblox?

usatoday3 karma


Never heard of roblox. Should I? - T Zehawi