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Brix has an eye for the bigger picture

Jackie Brix, the owner of The Bigger Picture, combines her love of aviation and hobby of photography in her small business.

Jackie Brix and her son, Hunter, pose with the drones she uses for aerial photography.
Jackie Brix and her son, Hunter, pose with the drones she uses for aerial photography.
Contributed / Jackie Brix
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CROSBY — The Bigger Picture was created because owner Jackie Brix wanted to take one photo.

Brix is a major airline pilot based out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Even though she works in the Twin Cities, Brix lives between Crosby and Deerwood. Brix said she lived in the Cities for a while but would spend all of her free time up north anyway, so it made sense to just live here.

The Bigger Picture, which specializes in aerial photography, began over one photo. At the time, Brix was the president of the local Experimental Aviation Association, which is very active in Aitkin. They invited an organization called The Ninety-Nines to paint a compass rose on the local tarmac.

The Ninety-Nines is a nonprofit organization of licensed women pilots with chapters all over the world.

A compass rose pained onto a tarmac.
The Ninety-Nine is an international nonprofit organization of women pilots and the Minnesota chapter sent volunteers to help paint a compass rose on the tarmac in Aitkin.
Contributed / Jackie Brix

“The Minnesota chapter of the Ninety-Nines in Minneapolis, they'll go to local airports and they'll paint what is called a compass rose on the tarmac, and it's absolutely beautiful,” Brix said.

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The compass rose was a group effort from volunteers and Brix felt she couldn’t get a photo that did the painting justice. Brix was trying to think of a way to get a photo of it, but flying over it was not an option.

“We're at an airport and half of us are pilots. But if you fly over it, the plane can't look straight down. If you want to see it, you have to bank to see it. And you're trying to fly a plane and bank at the same time; it's really complicated to get an aerial photo and especially to get one that's precise.”

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The only way for her to get the shot was from a drone. After calling a good friend, Kevin Morris, who is the UAS communications coordinator at the Federal Aviation Administration, he informed her there was no one in the area and encouraged her to get the licensing to do it herself.

In order to take this photo, the person would have to have a commercial drone license. Since the photo could be used as promotion of a business, nonprofit, individual, it is considered commercial.

Brix figured she was already a pilot and knew the information. After going through all of the work to get licensed, Brix decided she would use her new skill to benefit her community.

Brix’s first job is being a pilot. Her father got her into aviation at a young age. As he was learning to fly, he taught her the basics. Her family worked alongside him to build their own plane and Brix calls him a “great influence” in her childhood and adult life.

A forest with fog new the tree tops
Jackie Brix enjoys taking photos of nature and wild in her free time.
Contributed / Jackie Brix

Now, Brix shares her hobbies with her son, Hunter. He is Brix’s spotter when she goes out to take photos. Commercial drone photography is very strict and you have to have eyes on the drone at all times. This makes having a spotter crucial. Brix can’t look at what the drone is seeing and the drone at the same time so her son watches the drone for her.

Brix is also required to have $500,000 of insurance on all the drones she uses. Brix uses DJI Mavic Mini’s and Mavic Pros for equipment.

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Brix donated a lot of her photos to the local businesses and the chamber of commerce in Crosby. She saw businesses struggling during the pandemic and wanted to help out in any way she could. She also has taken photos of family and group events.

“I'm a rookie, but I just developed the whole idea of this in 2020 when everybody else was shutting down and I was starting up,” Brix said. “That's why I started initially doing stuff for free for some different companies in the area because everybody was suffering in 2020. Everybody was losing business and losing their shirt and I just didn't have the heart to charge anybody more when they're going through what they're going through.”

TheBiggerPicture2.jpg
After Crosby replaced street lights, Jackie Brix, owner of The Bigger Picture, which specializes in aerial photography, wanted to get a photo of the city after dark.
Contributed / Jackie Brix

Brix has done work for the Chamber Guide in Crosby, local businesses and nonprofits like The Disability and Aging Collaborative. Outside of the work for the city she has done, Brix likes wildlife and nature photography and videography.

“I don't think I'm a great photographer. I just have opportunities other people don't have, like getting it in the air, doing some stuff like that,” Brix said. “So I wish I was an awesome photographer. My sister's really good. She does the ground shots and I do the aerial shots usually. I just love what I do.”

SARA GUYMON, Brainerd Dispatch, staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5851 or sara.guymon@brainerddispatch.com

Sara Guymon recently joined the Brainerd Dispatch as a staff writer.
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