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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Motorsports Talk 
Thread started 15 Mar 2015 (Sunday) 10:34
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How to become a pro motorsports photographer in 5-6 years?

 
aphphoto
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May 27, 2015 10:54 |  #31

pureadrenalin wrote in post #17572057 (external link)
I'm a freelance pro.

It's simple. Pick up a camera, go shoot a bunch of stuff, pay your own way, and hope something gets picked up.

I might be calling myself a freelance pro though...

And none of my stuff has gotten picked up....... unless you are really, really good, and have a really unique style, there is little chance of breaking through into a paid gig that you can live on. Not trying to be harsh, it's just reality.

Not sure what a "freelance pro" is but no major track will credential a freelance unaffiliated photographer these days.

Another thing for you to look into if you're considering this as a "career": Get a hold of some of the agreements from the different series and see what is involved in making money from your own work. Credential gets you in the door but doesn't give you any right to sell your work. If you use a picture for anything other than editorial purposes you need to purchase commercial rights which can cost thousands of dollars. No print sales and certainly no advertising use.
In some series "rights grabs" are standard - by being there shooting you agree to sign over everything you produce to the series who own all rights to it. Your work becomes their intellectual property. Now how are you going to pay the mortgage off that sort of work? LOL.


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PhotoGeek
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Feb 03, 2016 13:43 |  #32

330cic wrote in post #17532227 (external link)
As with any craft, first you need the passion. Then you need the results. Then you need the contacts (or the luck).

Kinda like "how do you become a millionare? First, get a million dollars..."

Or, how do you become a millionaire in this business? Start with $2 million.


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veritasimagerynw
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Post edited over 2 years ago by veritasimagerynw. (2 edits in all)
     
Feb 12, 2016 14:15 |  #33

Pretty much you have been given all the appropriate advice.

Don't get into the ground level of motorsports shooting hoping to make any real money at it for several years, if not decades. Think about it in the same way as all those drivers starting at the club level with dreams of becoming a professional race driver. The majority of those guys racing at the local level lose money and never make the "big time". It's the same with motorsports photography.

Find a local track and get out there and shoot, in all kinds of weather. Build your skills. Meet people. Remember, though, when you are just starting out you won't have access to all the "good" parts of the track. You will be stuck shooting from the spectator areas which are notorious for not being the greatest places to shoot from. Track management and race/track day organizers aren't just going to grant anyone access to the track. Also remember that you are now competing with those guys who have been doing it for years, and have the connections with the tracks and organizers. You are going to have to produce a product that is at least equal (from worse shooting areas) to, if not better than, what those guys are producing.

Just like with racing, you need to put in your dues at the local level in order to gain access the the national level. And as was pointed out, most national level races will require something more than just "I am a motorsport photographer" to gain access to their events. You will need "sponsorship" (credentials) from someone, whether it be media or team. And then, at the national level, the number of photographers allowed becomes smaller. And then it get's tougher if you want to go international.

Also, as was pointed out, getting paid by the media is a rapidly decreasing opportunity. This is a growing trend among all photojournalists, not just motorsports. Organizations are less and less likely to pay for pictures (especially with the flood of people who are willing to give them away). I have been approached several times by publications that wanted to use my pictures. Until, that is, I brought up the question of what their budget was. Each time I got the standard response: "Well, we we're gonna make sure to give you credit." Sorry but "credit" doesn't pay the bills.

So here's the reality, most new bands want to be rock stars, but the majority end up playing the local bar scene. Same goes for motorsports photographers. Are you willing to put in the long hard work, lose money and time, and maybe a decade down the road find yourself making a living off it? Are you willing to haul yourself out of bed early in the morning to make it to the track for the driver's/rider's meeting, get signed in, and set up out on track (with little access to food, water, or bathroom), spend the next 8+ hours shooting in pouring rain or oppressive heat, then spend the next two days in front of a computer looking at and editing thousands of images and uploading them to your website, and then have maybe a half dozen people buy a download or print from you? And then look back at the past three days, and the sales, and realize how much money you actually lost?

Here's my 2 cents. If you want to shoot motorsports, do it because you love being at the track, because you love the sounds, the smells, the people. Work on building skills and making connections. Then, maybe after a few years, you can start getting some pocket money (you aren't really losing money because you would be at the track anyway, for the love of being at the track). And then, maybe if you are lucky, some publication decides they want to pay you for your pictures. If that's your attitude going in then it all becomes a bonus. But if you go into it thinking you're gonna be a "big time" motorsports photographer for a racing publication, you are going to get severely let down real quick.


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veritasimagerynw
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Feb 12, 2016 14:24 |  #34

aphphoto wrote in post #17573223 (external link)
Not sure what a "freelance pro" is but no major track will credential a freelance unaffiliated photographer these days.

Another thing for you to look into if you're considering this as a "career": Get a hold of some of the agreements from the different series and see what is involved in making money from your own work. Credential gets you in the door but doesn't give you any right to sell your work. If you use a picture for anything other than editorial purposes you need to purchase commercial rights which can cost thousands of dollars. No print sales and certainly no advertising use.
In some series "rights grabs" are standard - by being there shooting you agree to sign over everything you produce to the series who own all rights to it. Your work becomes their intellectual property. Now how are you going to pay the mortgage off that sort of work? LOL.

This is true for national and international series. Many local, club, organizations are not this way. Up here in the PNW the local race organizations (even the SCCA sponsored ones), allow semi-pro photographers access (on a limited number) to the events, after signing a waiver, and then allow us to sell our pictures to the drivers/riders. We are not required to sign away our images, though some request that we give them a certain number of images for promotional purposes.

Again, selling pictures at the local level can be hit an miss, and not something to count on as a "living". Funny thing, up here the car guys hardly by pictures, but the bike guys love them. Even though I shoot half again as many car events, I sell nearly double the number of pictures to bike guys. Which, unfortunately, means that competition for bike events is much higher.


Kevin
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ChunkyDA
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Jun 05, 2016 11:28 |  #35

Wow, this really generated a bunch of good advice. I can only add that you need to be a "people person" that makes connections and is fun to be around.


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Jun 05, 2016 12:26 |  #36

I just enjoy making a living in the I&E Petrochemical field so that way I can really enjoy photography as a hobby. In return I don't rely on income of my hobby to buy my gear. :)

I'm fortunate for this. If you love doing it then great... don't do what you love as a job though.. do what your good at :P


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Tom ­ Reichner
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Jun 06, 2016 09:14 |  #37

SE Smith Jr wrote in post #17498968 (external link)
This is exactly why I dreaded making this post in the first place.

I don't understand this statement. You've been given a lot of good, solid advice here; isn't that what you wanted? So why the dread?

SE Smith Jr wrote in post #17498968 (external link)
I went to the bookstore earlier and hit the magazine rack, and there are God knows how many different publications featuring all kinds of racing cars and racing events. Please don't tell me that there are only a handful of photographers that are making money supplying media for this entire market.

Are you assuming that if you see someone's photos in magazines and books that they are making enough to live on from those sales? It may surprise you just how little publications pay for image licensing these days. Stock sales for use in publications generate very little as far as photographer's commissions are concerned. It aint at all like it was back in 2005 or 2010 - the market has changed completely. So, if you see someone's photo on the cover of a motorsports magazine or book, and you think, "well, there's another person making a living shooting motorsports", you are most likely wrong. It could very well be that the image was licensed thru a stock agency, and that the photographer received a commission ranging anywhere from $20 to $250.

I shoot wildlife images for the hunting market. I go to the bookstore and see dozens of hunting magazines on the rack, and dozens of hunting books on the shelves. And most of these magazines and books are full of photos of game animals and hunting scenes. I browse thru the rack looking a the photo credits, and recognize most of the names I see. I know most of these photographers. And I know that the vast majority of them are just making enough money from their image sales to supplement their regular income, whatever that may be. The vast majority of them are not making a living from these sales. I don't see why it would be any different with motorsports photography.

SE Smith Jr wrote in post #17498968 (external link)
Anyway, it looks like I'm on to Plan B: Contacting these publications and asking them directly.

That would have been a good plan A.

My advice to you would be to get involved in your local motorsports scene as much as possible. Target the publications that are local and regional and try to form a working relationship with them. That will be the best way to gain semi-professional experience, and also help you to build relationships with the people who may one day be your clients - the drivers, team owners, advertising agents, retailers, manufacturers, and editors.

And don't overlook selling thru stock agencies. Even though individual stock sales garner very little these days, if you have a few dozen or a few hundred such sales each month, that could add up to a few hundred extra bucks each month.

One more thing...............I am wondering why DC Fan included 3 photos in his first post here????

.


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Jun 06, 2016 09:54 |  #38

lusospeed wrote in post #17511298 (external link)
Perhaps, instead of fixating on motorsports solely, you might want to consider the broader range of photography where motorsports is but a small component of a bigger business plan. I do this for a living and have been doing it for quite a few years. At one point I had a full time job, and in the course of time built up a photography business that allowed me to transition to my own business, which I do full time, and make a living from. I have been shooting motorsports for many years, but make that a very small part of my overall business. Everything I've pointed out to you is not fiction, or an assumption on my part, it is based on my experiences and the realities of this business. There are other opportunities in the automotive industry. There is work in the magazine industry that has nothing to do with motorsports. the opportunities are there, as well as working for car companies, or aftermarket suppliers for the auto industry. Again, you need to look at the bigger picture, and understand that if you want to make a living from it, you need to understand the field that you're getting into, and the land mines that lay in your path.

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Jun 08, 2016 08:39 |  #39

SE Smith Jr wrote in post #17480353 (external link)
Anyone else?

I think you better find another dream. :-)

The only angle I see these days is if you develop a personal relationship with a team or a regular contributor to the sport - but you will likely be displacing someone else with a few people in front of you waiting in line.

I had the same goal about twelve years ago, and almost got to the top level (hard-carded for the national series) of the sport in my country. I had a huge amount of luck, and worked a huge amount of local no-name events before I got a break - but it still faded away as the industry started to die (and is still dying).

You'll never make a living from it, but if you treat it as a hobby you might get the odd media pass after grinding away for a while.


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Jun 10, 2016 05:51 |  #40

I am in the industry, and I've lost jobs because kids with consumer grade cameras and lenses show up and do everything for free. Wait a minute.... why do you want to do this again? LOL.


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aphphoto
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Jun 13, 2016 14:47 |  #41

Tom Reichner wrote in post #18030808 (external link)
I don't understand this statement. You've been given a lot of good, solid advice here; isn't that what you wanted? So why the dread?

Wasting your time. The OP never responded to any of the pointed questions he was asked about his ability to do the work, put in the time, etc and didn't like (and disputed) what he was hearing despite it coming from several working pros who have "been there, done that, burned the t-shirt".


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aphphoto
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Jun 13, 2016 14:50 |  #42

cwphoto wrote in post #18032955 (external link)
I think you better find another dream. :-)

The only angle I see these days is if you develop a personal relationship with a team or a regular contributor to the sport - but you will likely be displacing someone else with a few people in front of you waiting in line.

I think most people would be shocked if they knew just how true this is. It is not just about being a great photographer. Sometimes it has much more to do with having a parent or spouse working in the industry.


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Tom ­ Reichner
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Post edited over 2 years ago by Tom Reichner.
     
Jun 13, 2016 14:52 |  #43

aphphoto wrote in post #18038243 (external link)
Wasting your time. The OP never responded to any of the pointed questions he was asked about his ability to do the work, put in the time, etc and didn't like (and disputed) what he was hearing despite it coming from several working pros who have "been there, done that, burned the t-shirt".

The lack of courtesy is astounding. Starting a thread and then not responding to everyone who replies with a question is akin to not speaking to someone when they ask you something face to face. The only valid reason I can see for such behavior is when someone is being unduly confrontational or troublesome, which has not been the case here in this thread at all.

Maybe the OP has a good reason for not responding to our thoughtful and useful insights. I wrote him a PM and am awaiting his response.

.


"Your" and "you're" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"They're", "their", and "there" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one.
"Fare" and "fair" are different words with completely different meanings - please use the correct one. The proper expression is "moot point", NOT "mute point".

  
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aphphoto
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Jun 13, 2016 14:59 |  #44

Tom Reichner wrote in post #18038251 (external link)
The lack of courtesy is astounding.

+1


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aphphoto
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Jun 13, 2016 16:09 |  #45

Tom Reichner wrote in post #18038251 (external link)
Maybe the OP has a good reason for not responding to our thoughtful and useful insights. I wrote him a PM and am awaiting his response.

PS: forgot to mention that there is a tiny bit of "thread brought back from the dead" going on as his original post was well over a year ago but also the OP hasn't been active anywhere on here since February.


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