CHKRD Media: Ryan Surber
A passionate car photographer with CHKRD Media, diving into the adrenaline of motorsport, genuine connections with the community, and the challenges of capturing the essence of cherished vehicles. Join us on this visual adventure
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Brand Name: CHKRD Media
How did you get into photography?
I used to play around with a camera all the time as a kid, but I really dove into it once I was in high school. I always enjoyed documenting everything happening around me, and eventually, I took it on as a hobby, eager to learn more.
What is the meaning behind your brand name and logo?
CHKRD Media found its identity in my love for motorsport. Trackside has always been the most exhilarating experience for me with a camera in my hands; nothing compares to the adrenaline rush of capturing cars at the limit of traction and speed. Growing up surrounded by motorsport, playing racing games, it became a big part of why I love what I do.
What was your first paid photoshoot?
My very first paid shoot was with a bagged BRZ a little over a year ago. I charged $40 for what turned out to be two separate shoots; one in the morning and one at night. I spent around 4 hours shooting and a ton of time editing, all before I really knew what I was doing. I stepped away from paid shoots for quite some time, working for free until this summer when I shot with a 765LT.
How did you build your brand?
I focus on connecting with the community around me. I love attending meets, snapping photos of people's cars, and engaging with others through social media. My growth comes from being as genuine as possible; I don't follow trends or big algorithm changes, just shooting for my own enjoyment. I support other photographers in my area, especially those looking to learn, providing advice. Being a central part of the community is about being a good person, at least that's how I do it.
What is it like being a photographer in the car scene?
Honestly, it can be tough. Cars are my absolute favourite subjects, but opportunities, even when shooting for free, can be rare. Some owners can be tough to work with or convince to spend a couple of hours for photos. Yet, meeting people and capturing the machines they've invested time, effort, and resources into is an awesome experience. I wouldn't trade it for anything; I just wish I could do it every day!
What are your tips/tricks for photographers starting out?
Shoot as much as you can, literally everything. Learn your camera. Walk around your house shooting random objects. Don't stress over having the latest gear; I'm still on an entry-level camera myself. Read books, watch YouTube videos, take your camera everywhere. Use it as much as possible, and you'll see a lot of improvement.
The one moment you remember that made you want to pursue car photography?
Probably the first time I ever took pictures of a car. My friend owns a 2006 Ford Mustang, and I took a few photos with my T3i for fun. I had ZERO idea what I was doing, but it was a blast. From there, I discovered creators like Woyshnis, Dated, and Krispy. The rest is history.
What gives you a greater sense of achievement, the end product or the experience?
As much as actively shooting is fun, seeing a client's reaction to receiving their photos is the best. I love capturing someone's pride and joy, giving them a permanent keepsake of their car, regardless of its future. There's a lot of passion in the automotive world, and freezing a piece of that in time is super cool.
How/What did you do to start selling your images?
I'm still working on this myself. Establishing your own value is important. I've spent a lot of time improving the quality of my work and will continue to do so, but I always feel it's sub-standard (falling under the whole "I am my own worst critic" deal). Eventually, you have to value your time, equipment, and skillset. Favorite and easiest clients have been those very forward about my rates and paying.
Is there a car you haven't shot yet that you would love to try and capture?
Any Porsche GT3 or 3RS, in terms of realistic goals. I have a long list of cars I want to shoot someday, but Porsche always comes first. Very excited for the day my future self gets to have a 992 3RS in front of the camera.
What are your goals, what do you hope to achieve for the future?
Just keep shooting! I'd love to have more paid work and more time behind a camera in general. I genuinely enjoy what I do; I only wish I did it more. I've had about 5 real shoots this year, so hopefully, I can double that in 2024. My goal will be to try and book one shoot a month.
I'd also love to meet more people! The car community is rad, and I enjoy being a part of it. Talking to people with the same passion as me is sick.
Other Useful Guides:
- How to Become a Car Photographer: A Guide for Automotive Enthusiasts - Stance Auto Magazine
- Best Cars to Customize: Unleashing Your Automotive Creativity
- How to Protect Copyright as a Photographer - A Comprehensive Guide
- How to Start a Photography Business - A Comprehensive Guide
- How to Edit Photos in Post-Production - A Comprehensive Guide
- How to Use Light to Create Better Photos - A Comprehensive Guide
- How to Improve Your Composition Skills in Photography - Tips and Techniques
- Essential Photography Skills to Learn - A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners
- What is the Best Camera for Beginners? - A Guide for Photography Enthusiasts
- Mastering Photography: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners
So, what's your car story? Share it with us, and let's keep the engines of passion running!
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