“Turning a passion for photography into a professional occupation is very different from merely shooting for fun”
STORY by Mr. Adrian Wong, Owner – Zotiq Visuals
When you tell people that you are a photographer, they tend to guess, "Wedding? Events? Food?" Only a handful will guess ‘automotive photographer’, and that’s only after I drop a few hints. After that, we typically get into a lengthy discussion about whether or not there’s enough detail to shoot in and around a car.
Automotive Photography is a specialised genre and I believe that one must have a strong passion for the subject and understand it well in order to take good pictures. In contrast to the other genres, the fact that cars are physically large subjects makes them extremely challenging to photograph, because it is like shooting a giant mirror that reflects everything around it… it’s even tougher if the car has been detailed to a gleaming polish finish before the shoot.
I got started on automotive photography in 2008, and I began by meeting people through online motoring forums and photographing their rides through the years. My network expanded from there as i got to know more people from the ‘petrolhead’ community and they were very supportive in what I did, and gave me the opportunity to develop my creativity and photography skills.
Having photographed many cars through the 10 years of my career – from family cars to supercars and even race-cars – I still look forward to every shoot. The concept behind each shoot is always different and that's what makes it refreshing. However, it’s getting harder to find new locations in which to photograph a car in Singapore. With our scarce land area and tight security, we end up reusing the same locations; however, my creativity is challenged because I need to look at these ‘old’ locations with ‘fresh’ eyes each time to ensure my images don’t look similar to past shoots.
Once in awhile, I’m commissioned to photograph cars overseas, which gives me the opportunity to work in a fresh location. One of my more memorable projects was to photograph the Porsche 919 Tribute Car in the streets of Bangkok, Thailand. I had to work with a local production team in Bangkok to get the location permit, necessary logistics support and police permit, because the car isn't road legal. It was a team effort to make the whole shoot a success, and that’s something a lot of people don’t realise until after you’ve embraced photography as a business.
To some, photographing a car seems as simple as positioning it in front of a nice background and clicking the camera. However, there’s a lot more to it than that, although you’d never be able to tell from the finished product. In the pre-production stage, there is art direction, location recce, storyboarding, permits to be approved and logistics. On shoot day, it is basically turning the plan to reality and executing the wet weather plan if it starts to rain. The post-production stage is where all the magic happens. Of course, not all shoots go through all the phases.
Occasionally, there are also times when I am itching to photograph a car so badly that I will buzz a friend and have him take his car out for an impromptu shoot, if only to try out a funky idea or concept I have in mind.
Photographing cars is my job, and it is also what i love to do. There is a saying that goes, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.” Yes, it is true but only to a certain extent. Photography can come in the form of either hobby or work – I chose the latter.
Turning a passion for photography into a professional occupation is a very different exercise than merely shooting for fun – in fact, it is more about managing a business than actual photography. So a word of advice to all aspiring automotive photographers, be sure to put down your camera and pick up a course on how to run a business first!