Becoming a Professional Car Photographer.

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by SGpascoe, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. Bitter Jeweler

    Bitter Jeweler Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    By all means, pursue it!

    Get your "day job" and grow your hobby.
    At one point I had to work 3 jobs to get by.
    Do what you have to do, and you'll eventually get there. But it all depends on you and how hard you are willing to work to get there.

    As far as what to charge now, while you are starting out? That's a tough one. You need to do some research and try to find out what people are paying the "pros" to do car portraiture. Try to avoid doing it for free, it sets up a more difficult road. Like I said before...the quality of your work will spread by word of mouth, but so will your prices.
    I tried raising my price$2 for setting bulk diamond earring studs for one customer I gave a great price to, to get them as a customer, and I lost them for over two months. They came back because nobody matched the quality of my work. So if you start offering free shoots, and the free shoot customers refer you to others, the other will expect you to be free as well.

    It's all kinda tied together, isn't it? I think you'll be able to figure it out as you go. You get a customer, have to drive 20 miles/kms to the location, or you have multiple locations, or you have to do it over a couple days for the "right light" or sunsets, and you spend 6 hours getting enough shots for them to pick from....what do you charge?
    Eventually, you are charging for you hourly wage, petrol, car insurance, travel time, your gear, time spent editing, your website...and any other overhead you have factors in.

    Again, I am not discouraging you.
    You didn't ask easy questions, and there aren't real easy answers.
    Best of luck!

    Hang around here, post photos for critique!
    There's some really good cartographers here that can give you tips, tricks, and suggestions.


     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2011
  2. xjoewhitex

    xjoewhitex TPF Noob!

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    Offering free shots is a great way to get started honestly, but you must tell whom ever you are shooting for not to share how much was paid or not paid I should say. I did the very same thing for family portraits, worked out well. After I was ready, I started charging.
     
  3. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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    HOW? Marketing, salesmanship, and business skills.

    Shooting for a magazine, which would be for editorial use, doesn't pay much, unless you also write the story the photos support.

    The money is in shooting for the owners of vintage/classic vehicles, and/or for advertising purposes, but even then it's unlikely shooting cars as your main specialty would make you a decent living.

    Which brings up the question: What do you consider making a living? Income of $30,000 a year, or income of $100,000 or more a year?

    The entire Cornwall peninsula only has a population of about 500,000 souls. To make a living shooting cars plan on doing a fair amount of traveling, and hauling all your gear with you too.
     
  4. SGpascoe

    SGpascoe TPF Noob!

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    Yeah I'm constantly on the look out for jobs at the moment, just because I need an income to support myself. I suppose I expected to make more than I can.

    When I'm doing free shoots I'm going to make it clear that they're for my portfolio work, rather than specifically for the customer as a normal shoot.
    I'll be sure to check out other photographers in order to find a good price, and weigh up the hours and costs on my side.

    I'm always happy to photograph anything, as you can see by my flickr portfolio so far; so I'd be very happy with any work without cars involved to start. portraits, pets, landscapes etc. I'd just like, if possible, to specialise in cars as I go.


    Hmm, that sounds like, to cover all costs it would add up to quite a lot of money.. I'm not sure many of the average people would want to pay a lot of money for a photo of their car?
    So that means that I either work at a loss, or alienate anyone without tons of cash to throw around!

    Hmm I expected shooting for a magazine would make more money. I'm really not experienced in the business/moneymaking side of photography!

    The income and earnings I expect are very different across the atlantic, but right now I'd be very happy with minimum wage if I could do this as a living. which is £5.93, so that works out around £9250 a year after 20% tax.


    I'd be very happy to travel, or more likely, relocate to another part of the country once I start getting more business. I can't see myself staying in cornwall.
     
  5. Bitter Jeweler

    Bitter Jeweler Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You can't run a business opperating at a loss.
    In the beginning you pay yourself less, so the cost of doing business is lower. You also spread your overhead across many customers.

    For my business, I total my overhead, and divide by the a standard work week (40 hours) to come up with hourly labor charges. So a job costs the multiple of the hours plus parts/supplies (marked up). That's the simple explaination though. Difficult or risk jobs cost more. You can also factor in the simple supply and demand theory. If your service is in great demand, and your time is of limited supply, you can charge more.
     
  6. StevenW

    StevenW TPF Noob!

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    Very sage advice. One of the most important parts of considering a business is determining it's viability. This cannot be done until you know reasonably well what the business costs are. So many times very talented people attempt a venture and it fails, not because they are no good at their talent but they aren't good in business. These folks tend to work their calculations from the wrong end, setting a price first is backward. Writing a business plan then sticking to it and benchmarking your progress with it continually is a favor you cannot deny yourself.

    Most times photographs are not a necessity of life, they are a luxury item something purchased out of some level of vanity. When you can meet that vanity void with a emotionally charged filling you can capitalize on a golden opportunity. You want to photograph cars and profit from doing it. Next piece to that puzzle is identifying who wants to trade money for photos of cars. Vane people with discretionary income would be one. I have a 15 yr old van and it's not pretty nor clean. I don't have a relationship with it, I use it for work. It would be difficult to convince me I need a photo of it, even if you are the word's most renown automobile photographer. So consider who your best customer is and what his motivation for having automobile pictures. Is he the owner? Is he a seller or an advertiser or a collector? Maybe your customer is a performer, shows cars or races them. A museum curator maybe who would use the images for a calendar or brochure. Once you've decided who your customer is, you can align your skill and product line to meet his want (note did not say need).

    Best wishes on your endeavors

    Steven
     

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