A Lesson for Beginners: Shifting Out of First Gear.

Let's face it: everyone has a camera now. This is especially true in the automotive scene. Photography is extremely accessible now and that is great! That doesn't make you a photographer though. I don't want to discourage anyone from getting into shooting cars, racing, or anything else automotive, but when it boils down to it, automotive photography sucks. Let me explain.

Many people start out with an entry-level camera shooting their friends' cars for fun. They take a few decent shots, post them online, and their friends love it. Then the person who took the photos thinks "Damn, everyone likes my work! I should go pro!" and proceeds to shoot more. 

Once they get some more cars under their belt and they put their photos all over the internet and on the wall of every major car page/blog out there, one of the pages bites and shares the image! This is great because it gets the shooter some exposure and lots of compliments because, let's be real, most people aren't out to critique photos.

So the photographer at this point has probably invested in some more serious gear like a better body, lenses, and most likely some sort of lighting setup. They also start a Facebook page, blog, and start watermarking their shots. As they keep shooting and posting, more and more pages share their work! "This is great!" the photographer thinks.

Then reality hits: They have invested their time, energy, and money into something they love. And haven't had any compensation other than a random person on the internet telling them thank you. Don't people make careers out of this? Don't they pay their bills and support their families?

The answer is yes, they do. The problem is most people don't value their own work. If you want to make it in automotive photography (or any other creative business for that matter) you have to go out, grow a pair, and tell people what you're worth. I'm not saying you should charge a million dollars for your photos because the average person dumping money into their car can't afford it. Be reasonable but don't sell yourself short. Yes the field is over saturated with people charging $50 for a DVD of 10,000,000 unedited images but that doesn't mean you have to. Slow down, take your time, evaluate your images, and what you think people should pay for YOUR TIME. The real trick is to go out and find your style and audience. Once you do, market yourself and stick to your guns. I'm not saying you shouldn't ever shoot for free, but make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.

Now go out, shoot, have fun, sharpen your skills, and make a living.