Features on cars, car photography, driving and motoring writing

Watermarks - Get used to seeing them big and bold...

Watermarks – Get used to seeing them big and bold…

There’s been an awful lot of Tweeting and anger on social media channels this last 24 hours about the UK Government’s Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill. Porsche specialist and writer Phil Raby contacted me to ask what the fuss was about, as like many, he had no idea that this bill was planned. And unless you’re an eagle eyed photographer, why should you? Sop, as Phil asked, here’s a (hopefully) sensible summary of the situation as it stands on 29th April 2013.

Despite wide opposition from the photographic industry, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill has received royal assent on 26 April, enabling the government to introduce, through regulations, controversial copyright reforms. The bill, which became an act of law last week, was sponsored by Vince Cable and Lord Marland of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The bill was originally written to eradicate unnecessary bureaucracy but presented a series of provisions, introduced through the back door by the Intellectual Property Office, to allow the use of Orphan Works such as images that lack metadata and whose copyright owners cannot be found.

While the initial idea, put forth by members of the academic profession to find a way to use very old archive images sitting in museum collections, was created with good intention, no thought was really given to the commercial aspects. The bill sweeps away many of the obstacles that commercial organisations have previously had to just taking photographs, digital or analogue, and simply using them. A previous attempt, just before the last general election, was voted down. However, a change of government in the UK seems to have been all that was required.

“The invention of photography and its mass adoption by the population created a new kind of potential value, but being analogue it was too expensive for corporations to exploit en masse the many millions of photographs they made,” comments Paul Ellis of the Stop43 campaign group. “Digital changed all that. Intellectual Property is the oil of the 20th century, and the almost cost-free duplication and dissemination of digital files has resulted in a huge stream of images. The trouble is, it was illegal to exploit them without their owners’ permission. That’s no longer the case.”

Those people hardest hit will be individual photographers, the people whose work is often used in magazines, books and TV programmes. The key reason why is due to the definition of an ‘Orphan Work” and what is required under the new legislation of making a ‘due diligent’ search.

No real definition is given to what is considered to be a ‘reasonable’ effort to find a creator. An Orphan Work is any image that it can be possibly claimed as not carrying any ownership date or identity. So those images you upload to Facebook and Twitter that have the EXIF data stripped are all, technically, orphans.

Additionally, given the global nature of the internet, I’m unable to find a credible source of information on the impact outside of the UK. For example, USA based photographers often register their work at the US Copyright Office. This gives them access to punitive damages. What would be the impact, should a USA based photographer discover a UK infringer and bring court action in the US courts?

If you don’t earn a living from your images, you’re possibly thinking, “What’s the big deal?” Well apart from ignoring a very significant body of opinion from many sources, it means that those pictures you on Facebook of the kids playing on the beach could just end up in an advertisement somewhere, whether you like it or not.

Below are several links to sources of more information and opinions that will hopefully give you more information on this issue.

The BJP:


Edmond Terakopian’s Blog:


The Register


The Stop 43 Campaign.


BBC News:


Update 2nd May. Here’s a link to someone who thinks the whole thing is blown out of proportion and actually, photographers and others are just lying about everything. You may wish to comment.


We’ll add more information as it’s reported, but if you have an opinion, please add it below.

Corny headline? I know, couldn’t resist it, sorry. But just wanted to give the heads up on Sound Cloud, a service for sharing sounds. There are various services like this out there, Sound Cloud isn’t unique. However, what I like about them are their creator-freindly user terms – no rights grabs of your content. Plus you can choose different licencing models for your sound tracks that suit you, no mandatory clauses such as ‘we own everything you upload.

I always feel that for cars and drivers, the sound a car makes is 50% of the whole experience. I’ve seen some pretty cars that sound horrid, but there’s nothing like the sound of your favourite engine doing a full on standing start to get you smiling. Play this one and I defy you not to smile.

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.


This great video by professional car photographer Tim Andrew shows what it’s like to be a working photographer at the huge Geneva Motor Show. It you’re on Twitter, you know when the show starts. Suddenly, your time line is buried under a blizzard of announcements from car manufacturers, motoring journalists and online motoring magazines, all shouting to be heard and racing to get their own ‘scoop’ online, grabbing your eyeballs and Facebook Likes before anyone else.

For a photographer, it’s a pressure environment and Tim’s day, (more…)

You can really only be considered a true professional in any artistic field once you’ve penned yourself a credible Artist Statement. But these things can be difficult to get just right. While it’s important to sound deep and meaningful and creative, you also need to reach deep in your soul and think of something deep and profound.

It can be a struggle. But struggle no longer, as this superb online resource helps you create just the right tone for how you see yourself as an artist, without having to eat an entire Thesaurus for breakfast. Arty Bollocks Generator automatically creates a series of ever deeper and more meaningful artists statement. Here’s mine:

“My work explores the relationship between Pre-raphaelite tenets and multimedia experiences.

With influences as diverse as Kierkegaard and Francis Bacon, new insights are created from both orderly and random discourse.

Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated by the endless oscillation of the moment. What starts out as triumph soon becomes corrupted into a hegemony of defeat, leaving only a sense of unreality and the dawn of a new order.

As temporal replicas become clarified through emergent and critical practice, the viewer is left with a statement of the corners of our existence.”

My work here is done. Get your own Arty Bollocks over at the website and be taken seriously in your creative work.

You’ll love this one. All the stuff that people say to photographers. There’s a load of comments I can think of that car photographers get all the time….

Hit me with your favourite car photographer comment below. First one I get is “That blurred road, right? You didn’t really do that did you, like hang out the back of the car? It was done in post, right?”

Here’s a great video taking you behind the scenes of a car manufacturers photo shoot. German photographer David Chmil made this on location shooting the BMW 6 Series convertible. If you didn’t already know, this is how the high end car advertising shoots are conducted. Shooting on the Phase One with a carbon arm brings you the beautiful finished result.

chmil. from chmil. on Vimeo.


For enthusiasts of car photography and historic car imagery, this is a great book. Just the cover jacket alone is reason enough to buy this book. It was eagerly awaited in the office and the striking image by Arthur Benjamins, plus the title “The British Are Coming” makes you stop and pick it up. The inside is every bit as good. Celebrating the achievements of British speed record breakers across the years on land and water, there are some truly great images from various archives together with recollections by the teams involved.

The jewel part, though, are the behind the scenes photographs that show (more…)