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Car Photography Tips

We’ve written before about the business of photography and will continue to do so, to help educate newcomers, share experiences and generally, hopefully, help the photography business. Should I Work For Free is one we hear a lot….

Here’s a great infographic by Fotoseeds showing the choices if you think that being a professional photographer is just as much fun as being an amateur, only you get paid for it……

so-you-wanna-be-a-photographer-fotoseeds_v3

Car Photography Tips

Twitter and the iPhone were born for each other. A more than capable camera and a method of global distribution to your audience. Perfect, right? Well, sort of. Like many photographers, creative industry people and website owners, I wanted to have more control over how and where my Twitter / iPhone shots were displayed.

So why would I want to host my own Twitter images?

Well, there are plenty of Twitter image hosting services out there, but they nearly all have licencing terms that I didn’t really like. For sure, you retain copyright, but you’re giving them permission to use your images for pretty much anything they please. We’ve seen over the last twelve months how many of these services can be sold to larger corporations and be absorbed, but also how some can simply disappear altogether. The high profile issue of Instagram’s change to terms and conditions is a case in point. Your image hosting company may love you and hug you today, but tomorrow?

Tweet your car photography to your own website

Tweet your iPhone car photography to your own website

What About The Clicks?

Additionally, you’re sending any click through traffic to them, not your own website. I figured I probably wasn’t alone and began searching for a way to self host your Twitter images on a WordPress based website. Is it worth the trouble? If you’re the kind of Tweeter who is working in photography or creative areas, or you simply want to make the best use of your Twitter uploads and retaken control of your images, then the graphic below shows how it can help you and check our my website to see how the finished system works in the sidebar and footer. (more…)

Car Photography Tips

Over on our sister publication of Speedster Magazine, we wrote about car magazine photography and journalism and the general trend of the Ken Block / Top Gear style of gratuitous oversteer photography and video that is prevalent right now. The article commented on whether the oversteer, smoking tyre type of shot was a genuine way to illustrate the car’s handling, or just self indulgence on the part of the writer / driver. It seemed to strike a chord with a lot of people, my inbox was busy and there where several comments on the blog, on Twitter and elsewhere.

From a photographers viewpoint, nailing a shot at that decisive moment gives a sense of satisfaction. You’ll know when you’ve caught it the instant it’s made. No chimping at the screen is required. However, there’s a judgement call to make on exactly how much distance you need to keep between yourself and the subject. And that’s something that takes experience, a knowledge of your subject and above all, a knowledge of your driver.

Here are two shots take in Norway a few years ago now. Both shot on the same session, actually within an hour or so of each other. The same frozen lake and in fact, almost the same point in the track. You’re probably spotting a distinct focal length difference in the two images. The reason wasn’t artistic, though I do like a medium telephoto panning shot. It was in fact a safety decision on my part.

When you're this close, know your driver...

Shot number one is of Welsh rally driver Wyn Humphrey, shaking down his then brand new Group N Impreza. I’d had a casual chat with Wyn, he was quite a quiet, laid back guy. Watching his driving, he was like a metronome. Lap after lap, shaking down the car and adjusting the Reiger damping, he was hitting exactly the same apex each time. His predictability gave me the confidence to move in close. This was shot on the 17mm end of a 17-40 F4 Canon zoom, a Lee ND Grad to control the sun. He’s passing at around 80 mph in forth gear.

TCar action photography. oyota Corolla WRC rally car at speed on frozen lake, Norway

Looking like a hero - but only for 1/250th

Shot number two is of a Corolla WRC car owned by some guys across for the Irish tarmac championship. They were having a great time, the Corolla munching it’s way through Carless race fuel at a prodigious rate. They also had an appetite for snow banks….

After being dug out of snow banks at fairly regular intervals, it was quite clear that I needed a long lens for those guys, great fun and great company as they were in the bar.. This was shot at the far end of a Canon 70-200F2.8 and I wish I’d had a teleconverter. For a short moment in time, they’re looking superb, car balanced on the limit, a real Ari Vatanen shot. I also have the sequence of what happened a moment later, but I’ll save the blushes. We needed the tow rope again.

There are very, very few drivers that I’m prepared to stand very close to when they’re sliding a car close past me and if I can, I try and work frequently with the same people. Even then, we always have a safety chat beforehand and the driver knows exactly what he’s going to do and where I’ll be.

I’ll be writing a guide on car action photography soon and the subject of photographer / driver relationships will be a key part of it.

DISCLAIMER – This is opinion, not advice. Exercise your own judgement and at all times remember, no shot is worth the risk of injury or an accident.

Car Photography Tips

The internet is a double edged sword. On the one hand, it gives us all a great resource of information, a lot of it for free. It’s a great way to democratise things and level the playing field. However, sometimes there’s a problem with the ‘Free’ part of it.

A great many people, so innocently, others not so, think that it’s just fine to take images and use them online for free. Other, Walter Mitty type of characters, can go one better. They think it’s OK to take your work and pass it off as theirs. You can read about that over on my personal blog here.

Got a saleable image? Someone might steal it..

It’s up to pretty much every individual photographer to decide for themselves what is an acceptable free use and what should be paid for. When taking that decision, you should consider several things, including “Would that person or company normally pay for a useage?” and “Are they a company / organisation that employs people for a fee?”

I’ll write later about how you arrive at image pricing and how you can work these things out, but lets stick with finding who’s using your images. This great tool provided by New Zealand web developer Jarred lets you undertake an advanced Google image search with just a few clicks.

I found several significant examples of my own work using this, some discussions are still ongoing. Of course, it’s one thing to find an image infringer, it’s another thing altogether doing something about it. That’s a subject for another post.

I‘ve always been a time lapse fan, but never really got around to shooting any and to be honest, there’s no good reason why not! However, inspired by some of the stunning time lapse work by Tom over at Timescapes, I decided to borrow an intervalometer from the guys at The Flash Centre. Philip Bloom’s workflow tips were very useful and I had a subject in mind in the shape of the beautiful, newly finished Infinity Bridge over the River Tees at Stockton, UK.


Using the intervalomter set to fire at eight second intervals on the Canon 5D Mk2, I set aperture priority, Jpeg low as the file size (which felt very odd for someone who always shoots RAW) and let the camera run for around 55 minutes. I’d like to have let it run longer but time was pressing and the cloud cover looked complete, only to reveal twinkling stars as I hiked back to the car! They would have been a nice finish.
The final file created in Quicktime is huge, but using ‘Export for web’ you’re able to create several file sizes to suit different viewers.
I’ll write again a little later about my thoughts on time lapse, as it’s looking curiously addictive and as well as being fun to make and watch, I can think of many ways that it can be integrated into a car photo shoot. That’s always an exciting thought.

Car Photography Tips, Journal

I had several emails yesterday and re-tweets about being asked to work for free, including one from a young guy just starting out. Working for free to gain experience, as he was suggesting, is nothing new and indeed in recent years has been discussed frequently by some well known photographers including Chase Jarvis and Vincent LaForet, both discussing when and why they would work for free. Here’s an example of when I have ‘worked for free’ in the past and how it worked out for both parties. It was written in 2009 but nothing changes in my view. (more…)

Car Photography Tips, Journal

Professional automotive photography is a tough profession to break into. Car manufacturers have contacts of very successful guys they know will deliver. Why should they take you on? You’ve seen endless car magazines on the shelves, there’s the obvious place to start, for sure? Well while there are many ethical clients out there who will value your work, along the way, you’re going to come across some others. Read on.

Five things clients say to new photographers when starting out.

1. “OK, so here’s the thing… We have no budget for photography so, if you can just do this job for free, we’ll have a budget for the next shoot and if we like you, we’ll only ever use you.”

Note use of the word ‘Use”. How about if you sign a contract and book me for the next five shoots and then I’ll do the sixth for free? Promises of food tomorrow aren’t bankable. Pay me.

2. “Well if you do this shoot for us for free, just to see if we like your work, we’ll hire you properly in future.”

You’ve looked at my website, viewed my portfolio. I’m not a guinea pig, don’t experiment on me. I’m either what you want, or I’m not. Pay me.

3. “It’ll be a really cool showcase for your talent. We’d really would love to show your work to our readers. I’m sure you’ll get some work from it.”

Credit lines are my legal right, they have no direct monetary value. As for someone reading the mag and then thinking, I know, I’ll book that photographer to shoot my portrait… Pay me.

"When I grow up, I want to be a car photographer...."

4. “How about if we let you keep copyright and then maybe you could sell prints or you could put the shots onto iStockPhoto?”

My copyright is mine by default. You’re buying a licence to use the images, not the whole copyright. As for iStockPhoto, don’t even get me going on that. Pay Me.

5. Look, there is no Five. I could write you one if you wish, after ten years as a professional photographer and writer, I’ve heard dozens of them, some of them real howlers. But you’re getting the message, aren’t you?

Tomorrow, I’ll write about some of the very very few occasions when working for free can work out. Until then, Harlan Ellison puts it far more elegantly than I ever can. Just pay me.