Automotive Photography and YOU!

Posted by Hoang Pham on

(Opening photo by Alex Cao (@moo.cao on IG))

[This article was from last year on our old website, but I still think that this would be helpful to anyone who is either starting or thinking about starting photography.]

So after trying to figure out what I wanted the first article to be on the site, I'd figured I would write about something that has consumed my life over the last three years; photography!

One of my favorite photos that I've taken in 2016.

Before I start however, I would like to say that by no means am I trying to be "the voice of the people" or that I know everything about photography. I'm still learning my way with photography but what I want to accomplish from this article is to help out those who have wanted to start photography for a long time to actually start, and/or give existing photographers inspiration on making their work better.

How did you start doing photography?

I've always had an interest in photography ever since I was young. I don't actually know when and how I got my interest in it but what I can remember was using my Samsung Impression phone over 8+ years ago to take photos, edit them with heavy contrast and colors in photoshop for fun. I never called myself a photographer at that point; I just took it as a hobby. Fast forward a few years later and here I am, dusting off my Olympus ELP3 camera and going to my first "local meet" and taking photos. From there on, I would go to meets every friday night to take photos of cars. At this point, I was still learning and didn't know much about cameras. I ended up selling my Olympus for cheap to get a $100 Canon Rebel XS along with a 50mm F1.8 for also $100 after talking my good friend Lenyx (@kinglenyx on IG).

One of the first meets that I went to starting photography. Shot with Olympus ELP3 with the kit lens.

My first time ever taking rolling shots with Chaz Musslewhite's old E39. (@chazwonks on IG)

This was when I started learning at an exponential amount and my passion for photography turned into fire. Every single day from that point on, I would research on everything photography related; cameras, lenses, things about lightroom etc. I practiced photography for the most major part of 2014, but I still did not call myself a photographer.

I didn't call myself a photographer until a year or so after I had experience. Main reason why is because I didn't feel "entitled" to be called a photographer. Even to this day I hate calling myself a photographer because I don't feel like I'm at the level where I can market myself as a photographer, and with so many people calling themselves a "photographer" as each day passes by, it makes me feel wrong for even giving myself that title. I just like creating photos and putting my vision in them, from my perspective.


Sample photos (All shot with Canon Rebel XS with a 50mm f1.8)

These photos were all shot with a 50mm f1.8 with editing all done in lightroom. Impressive right? One reason why I love the Canon Rebel XS w/ 50mm f1.8 so much, other than being so cheap, is that you have to be really creative with the lens as the Rebel XS body has a 1.6x crop factor, so instead of a full frame camera like a Canon 5D where you get to capture the full photo, the Canon Rebel XS automatically crops that. In fact, most consumer cameras are crop sensors (t2i, t3i, or nikon d3200, d5300 etc). So in reality, a 50mm actually becomes a 80mm instead, and that is a far focal length (meaning you have to stand pretty far to get your subject in the photo).

It's challenging at car meets and shows, but that challenge is what makes it fun! It makes you work a little bit harder in order to get the perspective that you want and you always end up finding ways to take some pretty creative shots. Oh, and you get awesome BOKEHHHHH (the blurry background and all that fancy stuff) if you use it right.

Keep in mind that that is the setup that I personally recommend. People have different eyes, different visions, and different taste. For a more wider angle, I suggest the 24mm pancake lens that Canon offers which is also relatively inexpensive.

I guess the main point that I'm trying to make here is that you don't have to spend $700-$1000 right off the bat for a beginning setup. Yes, the camera body is important but not as important as the GLASS itself aka the lens. A lot of people seem to have this overwhelming opinion that in order to start photography, you have to spend a lot upfront first, which is not really the case. It is not until you get INTO photography and shooting awhile that it gets expensive (especially lenses, jesus christ).

Shot with my current setup - Nikon d5300 with 28mm f1.8.

Shot with Canon Rebel XS with 50mm f1.8.

Another thing people don't realize is that photography isn't just pointing the camera and shooting. It is also about YOU and the eye you have. It is about what you have envisioned in your head. It is very important to have a good eye. You can shoot with a $4000+ Canon 5d Mark IV with the most expensive L lens and your photos will still be crap if you don't have an eye for it. It is important to educate yourself on all aspects of photography, not just the equipment.

I hope this helps a lot of you who are in the beginning stages of photography, or even those who have years of experience with it. With the influx of automotive photographers coming into the so-called "scene" nowadays, I want to spread knowledge and help others create better photos and also encourage those who have wanted to start. I know there seems to be a lot of hate because of how easy it is nowadays to buy a camera and call yourself a "photographer", but if you know who you are and know your space within the community and are serious about it, what is stopping you?