What's your dream job in the automotive industry?
If you could do ANYTHING? What would it be?
Lately I've been sitting in that dark cloud of depression that hangs over my head a lot. And although depression really sucks, sometimes it can also make you wonder. For me, the other night I got to thinking about what was on my mind. Where would I be if I discovered my passions and talents sooner? Would I be chasing my dream? Would I have made the contacts needed to move up the ranks and chase my dream job? Would I be more equipped to chase that dream? I'm 37 years old now, keeping responsibilities of life in mind, it's getting harder and harder to take that chance. Not to mention previous failures and let downs always stuck in the mind. Really, I've lost a lot of confidence in my own abilities to advance further. Not that I've ever been an overly confident person about anything in my life.
Now I haven't fully given up on my dream, I do realize it's a very long shot for me to achieve it. More so because it's a field where age really doesn't matter. It's what you can create and produce. For me, the dream job is being a motorsports photographer. Ideally a photographer for an IMSA/WEC team or even series. Although I would gladly do it for any other series with two exceptions. No drag racing, no NASCRAP. But the field has all the elements I love. Amazing race cars, traveling, meeting new people, witnessing great races, meeting legends of racing as well as future legends, and capturing events and people in their natural states. I would expect to have to do some writing alongside the photography and with that being said, I am not the strongest writer. Although, I do feel I can at least pull off something mostly professional sounding. At least that is what I try to do here on DriveTribe.
Sadly, I haven't been to an actual motorsports event in years. I attended a HPDE event a few years ago (high performance driving event), and that's really all I've made it too. I work nights so getting up in the morning isn't always easy or even possible. There really isn't a racetrack near me, closest being about 2-3 hours away at the National Corvette Museum. And to my knowledge they really don't host many actual track races there. About 10 years ago we used to make the hour or so drive to watch some friends competing in the Midwest Drift Union, and I'd always get yelled at for sneaking into a good vantage point to get good shots. But back then, I was shooting with a very entry level set up. So quality, skill, gear, and knowledge weren't near the point it's at today.
With a lack of venues nearby, as well as time and access I continue to hone my skills on the streets and attending what car shows I can. Occasionally experimenting with the framing of the shot or trying new editing techniques in post processing. Photography is an art, and you have to try and push your boundaries and expand out past your comfort zone. So occasionally I do that.
Automotive photographer isn't exactly the best field to be in. There is so much competition it's not even funny. Every town no matter how big or small has a handful of people who are known for it. Then there are the other handful that only a few know about that are also great at that. And then there are the ones getting their feet wet and learning. It's a pretty populated hobby to try and turn into a career. Even making side money doing automotive photography is a pain. I tried and failed. Dedicated an entire year to pushing good quality photos. I was lucky if I made 15 sales the entire time. What's sad is, my prices were stupid cheap. $6 for a digital download of a full resolution image taken with a full frame camera. Also, the option to order prints of all sizes and have them shipped to your door. With those 15 sales, I was lucky if I covered more than 6 months of web hosting. Clearly, I had no chance at recovering the cost of $2000 lenses and camera bodies. It's made be a bit bitter about my passion and the field I choose to take it into. It turns out, car enthusiast will spend $3000+ on a set of 3pc wheels but ask them to pay $6 for a quality photo of their car, and it is blaspheme. They'd rather screen cap a low-quality sample image than pay a very small amount for one. But it is what it is. It's hard to get the name out there and be taken seriously if nobody is willing to give you a chance. Everyone wants an arts degree, when some of the best photographers I know are self-taught. It's like, nobody cares about a strong portfolio anymore.
Anyhow, my bitterness and personal experiences aside, what would you do? Race engineer? Flag stand worker? Simple auto mechanic at your own shop? Test driver for Bentley? Detailer?