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!