Riding the High Desert Trails through Jawbone Canyon

Doug Chernis / Craig Macnair

Driver: Doug Chernis; Co-driver: Craig Macnair

Of course I was not the only photographer there. There were a few others, including some working as the “official” photographers for the rally and another guy who is sort of “the” rally photographer for Southern California. I won’t name names because what I’m about to say might not make me many friends, but… I see a definite disparity in the quality and, by extension, marketability of my images and those taken by the others.

I’m saying that only to qualify the next part of the post. I’m not saying that I am a better photographer because of any innate superiority in ability. I produce better photos mostly because of certain choices that I make, and anyone can make the same choices, if they know they have the choice.

Needless to say, the guy who’s the big cheese rally photographer, selling 8x10s for $20 a pop, is head and shoulders above the poor kids who basically volunteered to hand over their photos, lock, stock, and barrel, to the organizers of the rally. Notice to the organizers: as long as you insist on ownership of the photos, you’re only going to get people who aren’t experienced enough to know what they’re giving away.

The “official” photos, all 500 of them, shared a flaw common to a lot of the photos I’ve seen come out of these events: there’s just too many of them. You’ll notice that, even though I took at least 400 shots, there’s only 40 or so photos in the gallery. That’s because I took the time to select the ones that I thought best captured the action and best represented myself as a photographer. In the official gallery for the rally, there are 30 photos of the drivers’ meeting alone, when the best three or four would have been enough to capture the flavor of the event.

Most of the photos were shot at the beginning of the stages (the least interesting part of every rally, trust me) and featured five or six photos of each car launching into the stage, all shot from the same vantage point. Now, only one of those photos is the best (usually the one where the car is kicking up the most dust), so there’s no reason to present the other four or five that are less interesting. If you take the time to choose the shots that best present the subject matter and put your best foot forward, you’ll be a lot happier with the results.

Of course, the photographers in question no doubt just surrendered their files to the organizers, who are the ones who simply through all 500 up onto their website, so this message is for them, too. You’re not doing your competitors any favors by making them slog through that many photos to find the best shots of their car.

Another flaw in the “official” photos is that many of them are 3/4 shots from the rear. Shots of cars going away from just aren’t as interesting as cars going toward you. You’ve got yellow vests. You can go anywhere. Get out on the stages and get shots from the front. If you’re just going to stand around the starting line, you might as well give that vest to someone who’s going to get some use out of it.

Jack Szanto / Jack Penley

Driver: Jack Szanto; Co-driver: Jack Penley

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