Martha Stewart's Drone Op-Ed In 'TIME' Is Passionate And, Um, Unexpected

Here's a headline I never expected to be writing — "Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart loves her aerial drone," as described in a TIME op-ed published by Stewart today. She's not talking about the hyper-controversial, missile-loaded attack drones that have become such a visible element of American wartime in the last several years. That would be a step too far in terms of weirdness. Rather, Stewart fell in love with a humbler, simpler drone, one she received on her birthday last year. In her effusive op-ed, she explains how its aerial photography capabilities are a boon for architecture and visual art alike.

"The shots of my farm were breathtaking and showed not only a very good landscape design — thanks to the surveyors and landscapers who worked with me on the overall vision, much as le Notre worked with Louis XIV — they also showed me what more I can do in the future, and revealed unexpected beauty," she wrote.

It's quite possible that you're wondering, "Wait, aren't drones really politically contentious? And even if you liked them, wouldn't it seem bizarre for Martha Stewart, of all people, to be leading the cause?" And the answer to both is yes — it's easy to forget that years ago, Stewart's media empire risked collapse after her conviction for insider trading, and subsequent prison stint. Since then she's rebuilt and prospered, and has occasionally stepped out to speak on topics you wouldn't necessarily expect based on her casual reputation. Her discussion of her time in prison is one such example, but that's at least slightly more expected than her turn as drone advocate. Here are a few takeaways from Stewart's ode to the aerial drone.

Drone Photography is Convenient as Can Be

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The very first application Stewart fixed on for her drone, which she received on her birthday — when you're rich, people have to come up with creative gift ideas, and whatever friend bought it for her basically hit the jackpot — was to use its built-in HD camera to take some bird's-eye view shots of her estate. After a brief period familiarizing herself with the technology, she sent the drone up into the skies.

In just a few minutes I was hooked. In near silence, the drone rose, hovered, and dove, silently and surreptitiously photographing us and the landscape around us. The photos and video were stunning. By assuming unusual vantage points, the drone allowed me to “see” so much more of my surroundings than usual.

Stewart marveled at the convenience, silence and beauty of the whole thing, soon having an overhead view visible on her iPad that she never could have achieved before without an aircraft and a high-end camera. And, as she observed, "I would not have been in the photos!"

Think of How Much Easier the Great Wall of China Could've Been With Drones

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Stewart frames her drone affinity in a slightly historical context. Wowed by the attractive and illuminating overhead shots of her (pretty damn nice) farm, she began to reflect upon some of history's greatest architectural achievements, and how hard they must have been to build without the use of drones — and the things people used to do to achieve the same effect.

In the late 1800s, more people wanted the bird’s eye view of city and country and went to extreme lengths to rig up guy-wired telescoping towers, build extension ladders of dangerous lengths, and man hot air balloons, from which intrepid photographers could capture remarkable images — such as those of the Chicago Union Stock Yards and the U.S. Steel Corporation — from heights of 2,000 feet.What about the Great Wall of China, or the Nazca Lines in southern Peru? I began reflecting on how the engineers and architects of the past accomplished so much without the modern tools we have at our disposal.

She Doesn't Have All the Answers — Except to the Question "Is Your Drone Awesome?"

As though it weren't clear enough, she's really into this drone (or, rather, a UAS, which stands for unmanned aerial system — the moniker for commercial examples, as she explains). While singing its praises, however, she admits she's not fully sure how they should be regulated or reacted to in modern life.

Do they raise legitimate privacy concerns? Should they be regulated? Should we have a national debate? I don’t have all the answers. But I forged ahead, using a Parrot AR Drone 2.0, photographing my properties, a party, a hike in the mountains, and a day at the beach. I did my best to master the moves and angles that would result in most arresting pictures and video.

And, of course, no Martha Stewart offering would be complete without at least one idea for the cake at your next drone party. Invite all your friends! Though honestly, marzipan's not my favorite.

An aerial shot of the vegetable garden looked very much like my Peter Rabbit marzipan embellished Easter cake, which was designed without the help of a drone.

Images: Getty Images (2)