Get Paid to Play with Cars and Cameras


Photography: Andreas Reinhold

There’s only one thing better than making money from a hobby.

Making money from two hobbies.

That might sound as though it’s twice as hard but combining photography with a second interest can open the sort of niche opportunities that let photographers stand out in the market and win sales.

And it doubles the fun too.

Andreas Reinhold, for example, is an engineer by training but a keen photographer and an enthusiast of air-cooled Volkswagens and Cal-Look cars. He finds models to shoot by visiting shows and drag races, and tries to create photos which, he says,

“reflect the overall ‘stance’ of the car. To make the car look as good as possible and to stand out from the masses.”

The Right Way to Shoot a Car
That means learning the basics, he advises, shooting manually and knowing your gear. Understanding how to use off-camera strobes is important for car photography, he adds, as is watching for reflections in the body work, looking through magazines for ideas and taking the time to learn. Having a friend move the car so that the photographer doesn’t have to can be very helpful too, but above all it’s crucial to check repeatedly that the paintwork is clean.

That can be a lot of work, but for Andreas, it’s work that’s paid off. At a car show eight years ago, he made friends with an editor at an auto magazine, a contact that later led to his first professional commission.

“Last year, his boss saw some of my photos on my Flickr stream and asked me to do [a] sample photo shooting,” he recalled. “I took my dad’s car and… two days. It was worth the effort… I now have the possibility to work regularly for two car magazines and earn some money with my hobby.”

Andreas notes that his start was a lucky break and that the difficulty of getting his foot in the door at a magazine meant that he would never have made an approach himself.

But big breaks often appear to have been the result of luck rather than intention. If Andreas hadn’t been a regular visitor to car shows, he wouldn’t have met the magazine editor. If he hadn’t been interested in cars, he wouldn’t have maintained the relationship.

And, of course, if his photos weren’t good enough, he wouldn’t have got the job.

Catch an Editor in your Flickr Stream
Of particular interest though is the fact that it was Andreas’ Flickr stream that won him the opportunity of paid photography work in an area that interests him, and it’s a tool that he strongly recommends:

“Showing your best stuff there is very helpful,” he says. “You get noticed. There are quite a few editors looking through the Flickr photo streams and also people just write you an email if they can buy a print of a certain photo.”

In fact, Andreas has sold a number of prints through his Flickr stream as well as usage licenses for both print and online magazines.

“They all have contacted me through Flickr mail, so I know that Flickr helps
me to earn money with my hobby.”


Photography: Andreas Reinhold

Andreas’ marketing isn’t restricted to Flickr and personal contacts though. He also sells framed prints through Imagekind, places small ads on Internet car forums and points out that printing a book is now low cost and high quality, and can be a good way to advertise work.

It all sounds very easy, and Andreas has only been shooting seriously for little more than two years, but turning two hobbies into paid work isn’t all plain sailing. Explaining to buyers why car photography takes a lot of work — and therefore costs a lot of money — can be difficult, he says, and time can be a challenge when there’s a day job to go to as well. When shooting for himself, Andreas puts between four and six hours a week into his photography; when doing a job, that can rise to as much as 20 hours.

Of course, when that’s 20 hours playing with cars and taking photos, it’s hard to imagine that feels like work.

[tags] car photography, car photographer, car photographers [/tags]

One comment for this post.

  1. Salman Said:

    I have been into blogging and freelance writing for around four years though photography is totally new for me 🙂

    I have been digging into your blog for last couple of days as it is truly the ultimate resource for a new photographer like me. I totally understand the kind of patience and hard work which the guy above might have had done to reach where he is right now.

    Initially, I earned not even a single dime for first two years of my blogging but once it started, I made killings!!

    Bought a canon 120 SX due to the couple of manual functions is provides. Will keep coming back to this blog for all the help I need.

    Just a tip -- try installing wordpress plugin "Subscribe To Comments" if you using wordpress. That way I will come to know if you happen to reply to this comment. 🙂

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