We’re about midway through the off season, Christmas is done and we all getting itchy trigger fingers, not due to the stresses and strains of the festive season, but to the lack of on track action…unless of course you’re lucky enough to get over to Daytona.
I’m looking forward to my third year shooting pics, I have no idea what or how I will get on, but I will give my best and attempt to be as creative as possible, regardless.
From my limited experience of the motorsport industry, it appears that the world of motorsport photography is a bit of a bun fight, and it’s not easy to get ahead and make your mark.
Bad news for the budding professional, and this is where I have a little grievance.
I have heard, nay experienced, the old chestnut of being asked to give my images away for free; as in, take no payment in any form for the time taken in shooting and supplying images to whatever recipient.
Unless I can being to fuel my car on ‘exposure’ or upgrade my equipment on ‘credit’, I have no intention of offering my photographic capabilities for free at any level.
I have heard of drivers, teams, sponsors and media all asking to use images for nothing; and yes people will always try to blag a freebie, that happens in every industry – of course, there can be agreements that are reciprocally beneficial, but the whole notion of expecting someone else work for free is ludicrous, especially when there are financial benefits to be gained.
Say for instance you give a driver your image in a sponsorship tender, and that image portrays them on the podium, winning and the potential for placing that sponsor in the limelight.
That exposure is gold to sponsors, and may well be worth hundreds if not thousands of pounds to that driver.
Your hard work just earned that driver a salary for the season. You received nothing apart from the expectation that you’ll give away your time and effort again for nothing but a smile and a hand shake.
I tried paying for dinner like that once…it hurt a little.
It’s not just motorsport that suffers in this regards – the age of fan photos and wannabes appears rife, with technology and the accessibility of the internet promoting a million images at the click of a button, photography is now considered by many as throw away.
If Bill won’t do it just ask Bob…he’ll take one on his phone, for a thumb up and a hashtag.
And I think that’s the problem.
In a day where pseudo popularity and instant gratification is the way, people are desperate for that instant gratification and a rising figure of followers.
Those that are savvy (and manipulative), take advantage of people who are keen to be seen as popular and trade off the physical elements such as payment, against the fairly low esteem folks appear to have.
That attitude not only degrades others work, but is also very difficult to step way from. Ever tried justifying a rates increase with existing clients? Like getting blood from a stone.
But then if the standards aren’t high enough, why should people pay?
And that’s another issue; Quality.
In a world where anyone can take a picture and have it online for all to see, the throwaway culture of photography is a massive challenge to overcome for any budding shooter.
There are a million and one three-quarter shots of cars with an old film filter online…at least one of them will be free to use. So why bother paying? It’s throwaway isn’t it?
Sure that freebie might not be the best – but it’ll do.
It’s very mediocre, average and familiar.
Folks applaud the same shots that are the same as the shots that they shot. It’s safety in numbers and to stand out from that heaving back-patting crowd and be different is increasingly difficult.
And yes, I’m on insta, and yes I’m on facespace, and yes I love getting those notifications.
But I won’t work free. I like to think I’m better than that.