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FORUMS Post Processing, Marketing & Presenting Photos The Business of Photography
Thread started 13 Oct 2017 (Friday) 20:04
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Need some career advice

 
Lifestylechoice
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Oct 13, 2017 20:04 |  #1

Hi everyone,

So this is the first time I am posting here, (slightly long post)

I am currently in my last year of university enrolled in General BA at Laurier, I did 2 years in Business Technology Management, but didn't enjoy it that much. So now I am doing a general degree which doesn't really help in the real world.

I know I want to do automotive photography, and that is where my passion lies. I just needed some advice as to how to reach my goal of being a photographer for automotive magazines, and commercial work for car brands. This is probably a generic post of yet another person trying to go pro. And I know there are lots of automotive photographers out there, but I am sure I enjoy it, and I know it isn't the easy path.

Anyways, I have been working on my short-term goal at the moment, which is to work for a company that reviews cars as their in-house photography, get some connections and learn as much as possible. Apart from getting myself out there and setting up a portfolio. (Which I have been working on this past summer, and will continue to do), what should I be doing? I usually do client shoots, but I never know how to approach them and convince them to pay me.

I have different ideas, but I am not sure where to start my process. I would love to have conversations with people that might have had similar experiences before.

Again sorry for the long post.




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Jethr0
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Joined Aug 2012
ON, Canada
Oct 15, 2017 14:46 |  #2

The problem with automotive photography is that a lot of people like to do it. And about 99% of them give away their photos in exchange for a photo credit or access to an event.

I've been at it as a hobby since around 2012. I've sold some pics, done a pile of paid Corporate days with both private companies and manufacturer releases. Nothing you can make a living at. It's paid for my gear. Mostly. All of the work I've gotten has been from making some very close connections with event organizers, track management, and race teams. These connections are key to even getting a foot near the door, and they take a while to cultivate. You need to stand out among all the other guys and gals with cameras doing exactly the same thing.

Since 2012 I've also been involved in pro and regional racing as a race official. This gave me most of the contacts I have today. I built a level of trust by providing competent, professional service as a race official I've worked as Starter, Pit Lane Chief, Chief Steward, Pace Car driver, Safety Crew member.

You can't buy your way into this. You need to earn it. It takes a while. I'm still working at it.

Good luck in your endeavours.


www.jefflowe.ca (external link)
Instagram: https://www.instagram.​com/jefflowe.ca (external link)

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SereneSpeed
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708 posts
Joined Jan 2013
Oct 15, 2017 18:01 |  #3

Hone you composite skills.

Learn studio lighting.

Assist large projects. Most big budget car photos take a couple days and five to ten people on the ground.

Learn about creating advertising proposals.

Move to the US.

Get access to a very large studio with very large lights.

Learn the worth of your work and stop giving it away for free.


http://danielb.photogr​aphy (external link)
https://www.facebook.c​om/dmwbphotography (external link)
https://www.flickr.com​/photos/danielmwbuehle​r (external link)

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PhotosGuy
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Middle of Michigan
Oct 15, 2017 18:45 |  #4

I used to work here 50 years ago: http://photography-on-the.net ...showthread.php?p=15​679013

Look through the links in my Sig & show us some images.


FrankC - 20D, RAW, Manual everything...
Classic Carz, Racing, Air Show, Flowers.
Find the light... A few Car Lighting Tips, and MOVE YOUR FEET!
Have you thought about making your own book? // Need an exposure crutch?
New Image Size Limits: Image must not exceed 1280 pixels on any side.

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Lifestylechoice
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Oct 15, 2017 22:37 as a reply to Jethr0's post |  #5

Thank you for the advice, and yes what I have heard from most people is that connections is one of the most important things you need as an asset. I will definitely keep that in mind over the coming years.

Would you say any connections in the automotive industry or do they have to be specific people that will get you into the door?




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Lifestylechoice
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Oct 15, 2017 22:39 as a reply to SereneSpeed's post |  #6

I understand why you would say most of the things on the list there, what I didn't quite get is the necessity to move to the US. Is it the work, the people?




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Lifestylechoice
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Oct 15, 2017 22:42 as a reply to PhotosGuy's post |  #7

Thank you! I am definitely reading the book you have in the link. I have been looking for something of that sort. And I be will sharing some of my images for critique and feedback.




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SereneSpeed
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708 posts
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Oct 15, 2017 23:57 as a reply to Lifestylechoice's post |  #8

I said you should move to the US because you seem very specific about what you want to do - Automotive for magazines and commercial usage. In the US, you will earn about ten times as much per shoot for both of those revenue streams. That means you have a lot more time to find those jobs. The budgets here in Canada, for commercial work (for the same jobs) are no where near as large as they are in the US.

Photographers who are willing to shoot (almost) any genre (portrait, product, commercial, editorial - that's me by the way) are ~okay~ in Canada (still have to be great at business). We go where the money is. But, even large studios like Westside, don't have a steady stream of automotive work. And they have the studio, client connections, photographers, casting, producers, assistants and composite skills (etc...) to get the big automotive jobs. But they are still diversified, even at the photographer level.

If you want to pursue automotive. Just automotive. You'll have a better chance where the pay is better.

I am not an automotive photographer by the way :-) so take this with a spoon full of salt.


http://danielb.photogr​aphy (external link)
https://www.facebook.c​om/dmwbphotography (external link)
https://www.flickr.com​/photos/danielmwbuehle​r (external link)

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Lifestylechoice
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Oct 16, 2017 10:18 as a reply to SereneSpeed's post |  #9

I kinda figured that it would be about pay, and that honestly does make sense, but I still feel like I need to hone my skills even more. There will be a time in the future that I know I will have to go to the US. But, thank you for the advice.




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PhotosGuy
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Oct 16, 2017 13:57 |  #10

Lifestylechoice wrote in post #18473898 (external link)
I kinda figured that it would be about pay, and that honestly does make sense, but I still feel like I need to hone my skills even more. There will be a time in the future that I know I will have to go to the US. But, thank you for the advice.

There are advertising agencies in Canada, too. Some are even international in scope. We were once "exported" to England & Italy to shoot for Ford of Europe by JWT, New York (external link) from JWT, Detroit.


FrankC - 20D, RAW, Manual everything...
Classic Carz, Racing, Air Show, Flowers.
Find the light... A few Car Lighting Tips, and MOVE YOUR FEET!
Have you thought about making your own book? // Need an exposure crutch?
New Image Size Limits: Image must not exceed 1280 pixels on any side.

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Dan ­ Marchant
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Where I'm from is unimportant, it's where I'm going that counts.
Oct 18, 2017 00:54 |  #11

1. You will almost certainly have to start out shooting any and all genres of work if you want to make a living. You are very unlikely to luck straight into a job that pays enough just shooting cars.

2. Shooting for automotive magazines is very different than shooting commercial work for car companies. A lot of magazine work would be car shows and track events (so events and sports photography), whereas manufacturer advertising work has very little to do with cars* and a lot about constructing complex composite images from hundreds of frames of a location with a lot of high end retouching. It is advertising/product work and to work your way up in that you will need to do a lot of stuff like watches and other product photography.

* Friend of mine does work for Tesla, Volvo etc. On the last project he did the car was actually a 3D model which was composited into the location images he shot by a professional retoucher in another country.


Dan Marchant
Website/blog: danmarchant.com (external link)
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Gear Canon 5DIII + Fuji X-T2 + lenses + a plastic widget I found in the camera box.

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PhotosGuy
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Oct 18, 2017 08:03 |  #12

Dan Marchant wrote in post #18475164 (external link)
* Friend of mine does work for Tesla, Volvo etc. On the last project he did the car was actually a 3D model which was composited into the location images he shot by a professional retoucher in another country.

We've all seen that in movies, too, for both cars & people. Soon "F/8 and be anywhere" will apply to weddings, too! I wonder who will be the first to try to patent a Bridzilla App? ; )


FrankC - 20D, RAW, Manual everything...
Classic Carz, Racing, Air Show, Flowers.
Find the light... A few Car Lighting Tips, and MOVE YOUR FEET!
Have you thought about making your own book? // Need an exposure crutch?
New Image Size Limits: Image must not exceed 1280 pixels on any side.

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mikeinctown
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Cleveland, Ohio
Oct 19, 2017 13:34 |  #13

PhotosGuy wrote in post #18475256 (external link)
We've all seen that in movies, too, for both cars & people. Soon "F/8 and be anywhere" will apply to weddings, too! I wonder who will be the first to try to patent a Bridzilla App? ; )

Already have that, it puts dog ears and a nose on your face. :-P:-P:-P:-P:-P


Canon EOS 1D X | Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM, EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM | Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | C |

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JacobPhoto
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La Verne, Cali
Oct 21, 2017 13:31 |  #14

The careers in automotive are getting fewer and fewer, especially in this day in age of composites. That being said, images are still in need, so it's not entirely a dinosaur.

A few suggestions:
1 - If you're still in school, take some business classes. Accounting, Marketing, etc. I would say that becoming a career photographer (especially as a freelancer) is as much if not more about marketing yourself and running your own books as it is about the actual photography. Lots of photographers can take good photos, but few of them know how to sell their services, and even fewer know their books inside and out. If you have any family, friends, family friends, or even just mild acquaintances who are successful sales people (even in other industries), ask if you can pick their brains on how they are successful. The best sellers typically have a unique approach and stand out from the "I am selling X, which cost $y. Would you like to buy some?" approach. If you want to look into some online learning, there are tons of reading materials and speeches online about the 'art' of selling. Simon Sinek's Ted Talk titled "Start with Why" is one of my favorites. Chase Jarvis is also a commercial photographer who's done a ton of Youtube videos where he's very transparent about what goes into being a professional commercial photographer.

2 - Find out what newspapers, magazines, and agencies are in your area. Reach out, state your interest, and ask if you can check out 'a day in the life' or something along those lines. Suggesting it's for a school project may help you. Here's a few to get you started:
https://ppmghq.com/con​tact (external link)
http://www.verticalsco​pe.com ...t-us/connect-with-us.html (external link)
http://www.wheels.ca/c​ontact-us/ (external link)
https://www.newcom.ca/ (external link)
http://canada.autonews​.com/section/canada12 (external link)
http://speed.academy/a​bout/ (external link)

-> 2A - Get creative in how you reach out to these guys. Lots of people want to get paid by these outlets, you may need to do something different to stand out. Clint Davis is an automotive photographer who happens to live in South Carolina, which is not exactly a hotbed for automotive photography work. He created 2 mailers (2010 mailer (external link), 2014 mailer (external link)) that were insanely over the top. These kits got sent to a short list of very targeted clients. Each round of mailers cost him a few hundred dollars to make, but each one has more than paid for themselves. You don't have to go all the way to the level he went through, but think of a unique way to stand out, because you may be up against these types of professionals as you're reaching out to higher end clients and agencies. As you start out, maybe you can ask if you can bring coffee / juice / lunch / treats to the office for 20 minutes of their time. It's much harder to turn away someone who's literally at your office than it is to delete an unsolicited email.

3 - Practice your writing. As fun as the photography can be, a freelancer who can provide images AND a story to an editorial outlet can earn a job over a photographer who's only able to provide the images. Practice writing from multiple perspectives. A new car review, event coverage of a car show or motorsports event, and a car feature all have very different styles and audiences. Magazines and editorial outlets often have needs in all three areas very frequently, so make sure you have some examples of all three.

4 - Practice being in front of the camera (video). Video is catching on very quickly, and guys like Doug Demuro and Matt Farah have become self-made automotive journalists in large part to their Youtube presence. You don't have to be on their level, but if an outlet needs you to jump in front of the camera to help produce a 2 or 3 minute clip alongside the story, your comfort and presence in front of the camera will be as important as your ability to produce good photos.

5 - Find local events, and connect with out-of-market media outlets that might be interested. There's tons of regional car shows, motorsport events, and cruises that have interest to media outlets in far-off locations, but no way to cost-effectively cover those events. Major circuits like Indy Car and World Challenge will already have sources for photos, but some of the smaller supporting racing series or events at Toronto Motorsports Park may rely on press photos from the series. If you can provide some unique images and local flavor to the story, outlets may accept them. You may also use that as an opportunity to find cars, drivers, or teams to provide a feature / profile on that could expand a relationship. There are many vehicle and make-specific media outlets (magazines and online) who might be interested in a very cool car in your area, but wouldn't bother to fly a photographer out to shoot it. If you run across some very unique and well built cars, network with the owner and find out if there are any A) outlets that have shown interest in featuring the car but haven't been able to track down a photographer to shoot it, or B) outlets that the owner is a fan of and would love a feature in, but the owner has never thought to reach out to connect with them about a feature. Again, this is where your ability to be a salesman and 'sell' the feature can go a long way.

Some other threads you may want to read:
http://photography-on-the.net .../showthread.php?t=1​333508
http://photography-on-the.net .../showthread.php?t=1​218379
http://photography-on-the.net .../showthread.php?p=1​117717


~ Canon 7d / 5D ~ Novatron strobe setup + Vagabond
~ Some L glass, some flashes, the usual

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PhotosGuy
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Oct 21, 2017 14:08 |  #15

^ ^ Great post, Jacob!


FrankC - 20D, RAW, Manual everything...
Classic Carz, Racing, Air Show, Flowers.
Find the light... A few Car Lighting Tips, and MOVE YOUR FEET!
Have you thought about making your own book? // Need an exposure crutch?
New Image Size Limits: Image must not exceed 1280 pixels on any side.

LOG IN TO REPLY
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