Firstly, it’s been a while, let me catch you up... I got hit by a truck a few weeks back and can’t skate, hike or do much of anything outside that I’d like to be doing as the weather is getting nicer. After watching the progression of many broken and battered athlete’s careers move toward autosports as their bodies felt the impact of increasing slams + age, I knew it was only a matter of time before injured me caught the bug. (That said, physical therapy is great and hopefully I’ll only be using my grandpa’s cane as a costume prop in the near future.)
Insert Miles, a skate friend that knows how to keep an event professionally organized, and as such is one of the best volunteers you can ever hope to have. He and I got to chatting about how photographers in the Rally community actually get paid by participants when they shoot an event (albeit small bills compared to commercial gigs but, hey, every penny counts). This is a dramatic departure from my stomping ground of skateboarding where even companies use your photos without permission, have cropped out watermarks, etc. I don’t work with any companies that do that, but I have sent a few of them invoices. Plus, skaters aren’t the most cash positive people as stereotypes go, even in downhill where the gear costs 3-10x more than your Zumie’s mass-production short board. I can tell every skater’s name that has paid me for a photo if that’s any indication of the infrequency.
The money wasn’t the motivator for skate photos, I was always skating and I’d take a few photos for my friends unless I was injured and then I’d take a few more. This quickly evolved from personal snapshots into another area of photography that paid my bills once requests started happening from friend’s sponsors. On the one hand, I’m beyond stoked that I’ve been granted the opportunities to travel and take photos of my friends skateboarding in some truly amazing places. On the other, it’s definitely taken its toll on my love for both activities. As much as I love skateboarding, it’s one of those passion-driven communities that unless you’re getting shoe or energy sponsor dollars, you still have another job. My Mom has equated it very accurately to jazz musicians, you’re going to keep doing it because you love it and you’re not going to make (much) money off of it. If you’re trying to skate or play jazz for a living, best of luck and all the more power to you. I’m not trying to rain on your parade and I’ll still take your photos gladly.
I’ll save the finer points for another piece but I will say this: the cost of autosports in general make skateboarding gear look like per-diem. For the past two weekends, I’ve been shooting rally racing events (put on by the rad humans with NW Rally Association) and I’m already hooked. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the new photo subjects, I’m still getting my adrenaline fix (definitely went for a ride-along), and there’s the added bonus of free immersion therapy. Watching pro’s drive well has been a much welcomed change of pace from my daily driving experience. On top of it all, I’ve already made more money from event participants than I ever have in the skateboarding world collectively. Thanks to everyone that has supported my work, both financially and otherwise, I would’ve gotten a day job a long time ago without it.
As much as I miss skateboarding and the people that make it special for me, it was refreshing to experience an equally warm and welcoming community, out playing with their big kid toys. I always knew I’d end up playing with cars, I never thought photography would finally get me into it, and I certainly never expected it to help pay my bills. Here we are, five years and many car incidents later, and I’m still laughing that I purposely chose a college without a photography program.
To view my full gallery of photos from the NW Rally Association events, click here!