CROSBY — The Bigger Picture came about because owner Jackie Brix wanted to take a picture.
Brix is a major airline pilot based in Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Although 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 her free time up north anyway, so just living here made sense.
The Bigger Picture, specializing in aerial photography, started with a photo. Brix was then President of the local Experimental Aviation Association, which is very active in Aitkin. They invited an organization called The Ninety-Nines to draw a compass rose on the local asphalt.
The Ninety-Nines is a non-profit organization of licensed women pilots with offices around the world.
“The Minnesota chapter of the Ninety-Nines in Minneapolis, they go to the local airports and they draw what’s called a compass rose on the tarmac, and it’s absolutely beautiful,” Brix said.
The compass rose was a group effort by volunteers and Brix felt she could not get a photo that did the painting justice. Brix considered how to take a picture of it, but flying over it wasn’t an option.
“We are in an airport and half of us are pilots. But when you fly over it, the plane can’t look straight down. If you want to see it, you have to see it. And you’re trying to fly a plane and a bank at the same time; It’s really complicated to take an aerial photograph and especially to get one that’s accurate.”
The only way they could get the shot was from a drone. After calling a good friend, Kevin Morris, the UAS communications coordinator at the Federal Aviation Administration, he informed her that no one was in the area and encouraged her to get the license for it herself.
To take this photo, the person would need to have a commercial drone pilot’s license. Because the photo could be used to promote a business, non-profit organization, or individual, it is considered commercial.
Brix assumed she was already a pilot and knew the information. After doing all the work to get a license, Brix decided she would use her new skill to benefit her community.
Brix’s first job is a pilot. Her father introduced her to aviation at a young age. When he learned to fly, he taught her the basics. Her family worked with him to build their own airplane, and Brix calls him a “huge influence” on her childhood and adult life.
Now Brix shares her hobbies with her son Hunter. He’s Brix’s spotter when she goes out to take pictures. Commercial drone photography is very strict and you must keep an eye on the drone at all times. This makes having a spotter crucial. Brix can’t see what the drone and the drone see at the same time, so her son watches the drone for her.
Brix is also required to purchase $500,000 insurance for all the drones she uses. Brix uses DJI Mavic Minis and Mavic Pros as equipment.
Brix donated many of her photos to local businesses and the Crosby Chamber of Commerce. She saw businesses struggling during the pandemic and wanted to help wherever she could. She has also taken photos of family and group events.
“I’m a rookie but I didn’t come up with the whole idea until 2020 when everyone else closed and I started fresh,” said Brix. “So initially I started doing stuff for a few different companies in the area for free because everyone has suffered in 2020. Everyone lost business and their shirt, and I just didn’t have the heart to charge anyone more when they go through what they’re going through.”
Brix has worked for the Crosby Chamber Guide, local businesses and non-profit organizations such as The Disability and Aging Collaborative. Outside of the work she has done for the city, Brix enjoys wildlife and nature photography and videography.
“I don’t think I’m a great photographer. I just have opportunities that other people don’t have, like getting it airborne, doing stuff like that,” Brix said. “So I wish I was a great photographer. My sister is really good. She does the ground shots and I usually do the aerial shots. I just love what I do.”
SARA GUYMON, Brainerd Dispatch, Associate, can be reached at 218-855-5851 or