I find it amusing when I tell people I am a photographer and they respond with… “Oh cool, you take pictures.” While it is true that photographers take pictures, most people have no idea how much work is involved in the process of arriving at that final product… the picture. I have shot many bike and car shows over the years, sometimes just for my own blog use and other times for major publications. Let’s look at the latter.

The process starts with talking to an editor and finding out what they need. Many times they will let me have total creative freedom to capture an event but other times they will ask for specific types of shots so it is important that when it comes time for them to hand me a check, they have the shots they were expecting. Once the image details are set, it’s time to communicate with the promoter. Usually they are aware I am coming at this point but not always so it’s wise to confirm with them. Experience has taught me that promoters love any kind of press coverage but they also get very uptight if they see you taking photographs with pro gear and they don’t know who you are.

Next the fun begins! I always make plans to arrive early so I can meet the promoter face-to-face (so he knows what I look like) and then start shooting. It’s a long day for sure… lugging expensive and heavy gear around in the blazing sun, jockeying for position with the massive crowds to get just the right angle, waiting for “Mr. Oblivious” to realize he is standing right in front of my lens… haha… and then dragging my worn out self back home with 200 to 300 images in tow.

So that’s it right? If only it were that easy. The real work has now just begun. Every RAW format image now has to be processed. In the old days of film, the color lab would do all of this but in the digital age, this all falls back on the photographer. Each image has to have white balance adjusted, be color corrected and retouched. The retouching alone can take up to an hour or more per image depending on what needs to be done. I have an example of one such retouch job at the top of this RANT. I waited all day to get a clean shot of the red Buell you see and when it became evident it wasn’t going to happen (huge crowd all day long) I got the cleanest shot I could and eliminated the clutter in post processing. It is not uncommon for this process to take 2 to 3 times more time than the actual photography took.

Finally, at that point I can submit the photos and hopefully everybody is happy with the results!

All of this to say… there is a lot more to this than just “taking pictures”. Yes, it is an awesome amount of fun but it is also a tremendous amount of time, work and skill that gets you your final product… the picture. In reality, it is pretty inexpensive to hire a professional photographer when you consider what you get. If you need one… I know a good one!


9 responses

  1. I can appreciate all that goes in to photography the art…I have a friend that takes it as serious as you. Buying the expensive best of the line camera, then buying all the necessary accessories, and then learning how to work with lighting and all. It is much more work just thinking about it! Be he, like you, will always go home with hundreds of photos to sort through. That same friend is the one that did my profile pic on twitter. It took a couple of hours, changing lenses, changing settings so he could take multiple shutter pictures with a single press of the button. I was scared to even touch his camera and stuff cause it cost more than my riding jacket and helmet combined!
    Swag, you take wonderful and beautiful pictures! Thank you for sharing!!

    January 24, 2010 at 11:47 AM

  2. As an amateur photo buff…I’m figuring out much of what your stating. While I have sold my photos to magazines…I’m becoming harder to satisfy with the shots I’m taking…and learning to find my eye with the photo processing end of the shot is challenging. I’m loving the learning process, (I’m finding there is no such thing as “know it all” in this life.)

    I’m glad you said this…it sure is hard work…for sure.

    January 24, 2010 at 6:03 PM

  3. Thanks Maria…

    January 24, 2010 at 6:10 PM

  4. Hey Chessie… you are way beyond amateur! I love your shots and they inspire me! I know what you mean though… every time I pick up the camera it seems like I am learning something new… usually by mistakes I make! Haha

    January 24, 2010 at 6:13 PM

  5. Chessie, I agree with Swag…you are definitely not an amateur! You’ve got a great eye and I’m loving your new blog with the photos every day 🙂

    And you’re welcome Swag 🙂

    January 24, 2010 at 6:52 PM

  6. I get so frustrated when someone says, “nice pics.” Like, they’re just simple little snapshots I took without any forethought or post processing. I know they don’t mean it as an insult- but man it feels like one!

    January 25, 2010 at 10:36 AM

  7. Melanie… one of my favorites is when someone looks at my images and says, “You must have a really nice camera.” Yeah… it’s all about the camera. My eye, brain and skill had nothing to do with it! Haha…

    January 25, 2010 at 8:20 PM

  8. “You must have a really nice camera.”

    Right. And Mark Twain must have had a really nice pen.

    Liking the blog and photos. Thanks.

    February 12, 2010 at 12:50 AM

  9. Nice Daniel… I’m gonna use that one!

    February 12, 2010 at 9:12 PM

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