working for a car dealership

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by gabriel_grosu, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. A good friend of mine works for a Mercedes dealership in NC and he called me couple of days ago asking if I am willing to take a part time position at the dealer shooting for their website and ebay. I looked at the site and there is nothing fancy or glamorous about the job , about 20 to 25 pictures for each car showing all the angles, interior , doors , wheels, stearing wheel, guys know what I am talking about. I am a little puzzled about the term "part time" since this looks more like " contracting " to me because I am using my equipment and it is not a fixed schedule : they call you in advance and let you know that they have new arrivals and you need to stop by and do your thing. My understanding is that hey have anywhere from 20 to 50 new cars every week and it is done in two or three sessions. I have never done anything similar and tomorow is the interview and I don't want to go unprepared. So I guess the question is " how much is fair, how much is too low and how much is too much"?
    Thanks a lot
  2. If you can, I'd ask your friend how they've been doing it up until now, and what that's been costing them... and why they no longer use the person who was doing it previously.
  3. Well , I did , and the reason they fired the other guy is because " he wasn't reliable" which means he was only showing up couple of days a month instead of couple of days every week. Maybe I am wrong but to me it seems that they didn't keep him motivated enough... Also he does not have any idea how much were they paying him.
  4. Also he does not have any idea how much were they paying him.​
    That sounds suspicious!
    If they want you and your gear for 2 or 3 days a week, I'd suggest giving them a day rate quote. Only you can figure out how much that is, but here in Silicon Valley it varies between $2500 and $600, depending on who you are and what you're shooting.
  5. $100 a car with an agreed minimum of 20 per week, shoot 3 to 4 cars an hour. 10-25 cars, 2 times a week $2K-$5K per week. Sign me up! I'm betting they want to pay you $15 an hour as a part time employee. I'd stay home for that.
  6. Thanks to all of you guys. I went to the interview and he offered , bottom line , about $25 per car. Now the volume is what will make a difference.
  7. $25 per car with 20 to 50 cars a week could be OK if you work efficently and quickly, but if it takes you all day to do 4 or 5 cars you're working for chump change.
  8. I'd be careful of "per car" type propositions because you could be stuck working around them having the cars available and detailed, in position, ready to go, etc.. "per car," they have no real incentive to be convenient for you. If you have an hourly, etc., labor component to your pricing, they have an incentive to have the cars ready and to keep things flowing. You may also want to be aware of what kind of additional post processing or similar time might be expected/required.
  9. Gabriel,
    Are you flexible enough for them? Are there a minimum number of cars per shoot? If not, then perhaps there should be a minimum billing for you to go out. Also, how long a drive is this for you?
    If they have you come out 8-10 times per week for 1 or 2 cars/shoot, it's going to get old real fast....-Aimee
  10. Hi,
    Let me preface this by saying that I am NOT a pro photographer.
    I actually did this for a couple of months for a web site that serviced several car dealerships. In my case, it was about $4 per car, and we shot 8 pictures per car, all standard routine shots, same for all cars. In an ideal setting, where the car jockey found the cars and brought them to me at an agreed upon spot, I did 6-7 cars per hour. At some dealers, they handed you the keys and you hand to find the car in the large lot, drive it to a suitable spot, maybe only meters away but still, then put it back, get more keys... Some fo teh lots were acres big and it could take 5-10 minutes to find a car. In that case, I'd be doing 4-5 cars per hour, sometimes less. I did this with a P&S. Income was about minimum wage, no paid expenses. Some dealers expected me to clean the snow off their cars for them.
    This was the photo equivalent of delivering groceries, but I tried it on a lark to see what it was like. The only good thing to come out of it was the deal I got on a 2nd hand car after becoming friends with one of the used car managers.
    If you can get $25 per car at a premium dealership, I'd say that's rare. But my guess is that they will be picky and you will be lucky to do 1-2 cars per hour. (Guessing here.) Copyright issues will hardly enter into it, because once the car is sold no one cares about the pics you took. The dealer will feel free to use the pics in all advertising, web or paper, is also my guess.
    Don't underestimate the time it will take to shoot each car. Moving it to a suitable location (in front of a dealership sign, etc), removing debris from inside a trunk to take a clean shot, weather delays, etc. The ONLY thing that matters at a car dealership is sales; everything you do is bottom priority. Just be aware.
  11. I don't know if anybody is still looking at this post here , but I will go ahead and write impressions after two weeks of work. It is not easy. There is a lot of work and definetly , while it is not bad , the money is not good either. You know , this is bothering me , maybe I am not one of the best photogrehers on the market ( Charlotte market that is ) but I am so crazy about photography , I absolutely love to take pictures , I spend a lot of money on equipment, on books, magazines , I even spent $100 on Gary Fong's DVD on how to become rich as a photographer and I STILL DON'T SEE IT COMING. I mean , if you google how much a photographer gets paid hourly you abolutely freak out : anywhere from 8 to 15 bucks an hour. So where is the money ? How can you get it? How come you have photographers making 300 grand a year or maybe even more and on the other hand people like me barely making $15-$20/h ? I took this job because I thought the road is finaly open but is it really? I mean , how important for my CV this is because I don't know anymore. And all this strugle is killing your stamina and your creativity ..... Like Beatles said "help , I need somebody...."
    And by the way , Robert was right . It takes about 45min/car and it takes me another 30 min to scroll through the pictures , delete the bad ones , adjust some basic settings and upload them online. That is not including the dead times when you have to wait beacuse the car is still in the detailing shop , meetings , print of the lists , discussions about the pictures with the manager and so on. At the end we are talking 2hours/car. Hmmmmm.
  12. Hi,
    There was some hope that because it was a higher end dealership, you would have an easier time that I did, but that does not seem to be the case. Bottom line might be to just say goodbye to the car dealer and look for other kinds of photo work.
    A problem with dealership photos (and probably low-end real estate for example) is that the photographs themselves don't provide much value-added to the dealer (or agent). That is, no matter how much better than someone else's photos yours may be, it does not really have much effect on car sales. To them, any 400-800 pixel wide web shot is good enough for the purpose. So, you're only worth so much to them and no more, no matter how much quality you deliver.
    Put another way, they don't see your photos as helping them grow their business in the long term. For them, there is no long term. Will the car sell this week, is the time horizon, and every dollar they give you, is a dollar that's not in their pocket.
    Find better clients, is my best advice.
  13. Gabriel:
    Why would you spend $100 on Gary Fong's DVD and wonder why you're not getting rich taking snapshots for a car dealer?
    The photographers netting $300k per year are few and far between.
    Median annual earnings of salaried photographers were $26,170 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $18,680 and $38,730. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $15,540, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $56,640. Median annual earnings in the industry employing the largest numbers of salaried photographers were $22,860 in the photographic services industry.​
    As a photographer, this job doesn't do anything to help your CV. In fact, I question the need for a photographer to even *have* a CV. You need a portfolio. If your goal is to take pictures of cars of a quality equal to or higher than that of a trained monkey, then you'll want to include these pictures in your portfolio. Otherwise, I wouldn't look at this as a stepping stone. It's a job. If it puts food on the table and a roof over your head, it's a good thing. Many, many people in this world make less than $20/hr. It is not, however, a photography job. Anybody with a point & shoot can do the same thing.
    There's no reason why you should have to spend 30 minutes per car deleting bad pictures and adjusting other ones. Shoot in JPEG and learn what settings you need to make in camera to produce acceptable results without no additional touches from yourself. This doesn't call for high quality photos.
    I'd ask for 8 cars to be lined up per day they want you to shoot. Shoot them consecutively. Then upload all 8 cars at once. Six hours of shooting and some processing at the end should be doable in an 8 hour day. $200/day isn't bad coin.
    The photographers making the most money aren't making money from their photography. They're making money from their business and sales skills.
  14. Gabriel - You bring up a topic that is a real question that I feel most will ask during some point in their career as a photographer. How can one make a living at this craft when the pool of talent is so vast. The first step is to not undervaluing your services or your time spent perfecting your craft. After all, what the employer/client are hiring is the experience and the vision - not just someone with fancy equipment.
    Next, take stock of what drew you to this field that can encompass so many forms of genres in the first place. Now go off and perfect this but do so while working another career while you perfect and improve upon your own creativity and vision. Take on clients around your work schedule but think of this as a way to bring in extra income, gain valuable experience, and charge according to what you want to make. The first and biggest mistake is that people start off by charging a rate and do not take into account that they are running a business. If they want to be sustainable and grow then they need to pay the company first, themselves last. This means investment so that you can eventually grow the business and eventually start taking a salary. It takes time, effort and hard work to get to that point. At the same time, do not be afraid to share and collaborate with others in the industry.
    Finally, do not be afraid to consider that being a hobbyist is an okay thing to do. Because, as mentioned earlier, the talent pool is very deep and there are more people with cameras these days than ever. This means that competition for the job is at an all-time high which in turns means that there is a lot of undercutting to the point that we end up working for slave wages. When it comes to these jobs... walk away or set the expectations to the client real low. You do not want the hassle as they will expect the world as you work for pennies on the dollar.
    See, creating for yourself and sharing with a select audience isn't a bad thing for it creates demand for a service that no one else offers. This is why it is so very important to be realistic about your goals and how you are approaching photography. To get to this point it is likely that they best jumping off point is finding your niche, perfecting your skill, and creating a demand within your market or community.
    As Henri Cartier-Bresson once commented, "Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst." My suggestion, keep pushing, learning, and be willing to explore the medium, whether that be film or digital, through and informed approach. With time and by listening closely to your audience you will find the right path.

    Warmest wishes... Brian Krecik
  15. it


    Incredibly monotonous boring subject matter that will pay basically nothing IMO. Zero creativity, it doesn't really deserve much more than $20/hr really. If you are in it for a quick buck, that's a recipe for disappointment.
    Actually the "talent pool" is incredibly shallow, the number of fauxtographers with gear is very high. You have to separate yourself from the pack with skills. You will not gain any skills with a factory job shooting some car dealership. It takes time and perseverance.
  16. Ive been shooting for dealerships. I have actually found it to be VERY lucrative, and considered putting my commercial photography aside to build this up a little more, then outsource the work. I shoot at a dealership once a week, and whatever they have for me to shoot - New and Used. Sometimes I have to cut it short to move on to other jobs that day. It typically takes my 2 hours to shoot 15-20 cars. I also upload the images, which take maybe 20 minutes or so. If it's taking some of you 45 minutes per car, you're doing it wrong. Part of my deal includes 1-2 sales people to help pull cars around for me, so we can knock them out quickly and efficiently. I charge $200 each week. The first photo I take is the stock tag, then I take the photos in the order in which I upload them. This way, I can literally just drag and drop the photos to the upload page. I don't do any post processing. If you're wondering how I get them looking good, I shoot all the cars in open shade, so that lighting is always consistent. They are very pleased with the photos. I shoot AWB, so the only thing that changes between frames is color, slightly. Spending 2 hours a week, making $200 per visit, is $100/hr. Imagine this as a full time job. 10 dealerships would bring me just shy of 6 figures annually. I'm still working out the kinks, like, shooting 10 dealerships would make it difficult to find open shade, etc. The biggest thing I can recommend is to keep it moving FAST, and keep it moving efficiently, otherwise, it wont be worth the money. 1 car/45min, is way too slow.

    The ultimate question is how much is too much/too low? My suggestion would be to go talk to your dealership, and find out what they are doing now, and offer a better solution for them. If you're a photographer, you should be able to beat them by quality, which is one selling point. Find out what they're paying the guy thats currently doing it, and that will give you an idea as to what they expect. Dealer Specialties charges $1,200/mo.

    I hope this helps everyone!

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