Wharf Rat Rally 2012: My First Vending Experience

By tangentpath in fun times motorcycle photography wharf rat rally

Hey Peeps,

I don't know if a lot of you have ever been a vendor for an event like the Wharf Rat Rally, you know, sell cotton candy or popcorn or samurai swords.  

It may not sound very glamorous, probably because it's not.

It's hot and muggy, the air is filled with engine exhaust and noise of all sorts and the hours are long.

It was one of the most crucial learning experiences I have ever had and I can't wait to do it again next year.

The first challenge was to find a way to incorporate my photography into the rally in such a way that my product was quick to produce and purchase but also unique in such a way that it would draw more clients.

HDR.  High Dynamic Range.

You have all seen HDR images before, even if you didn't know what it was called.

Basically several images are shot of a subject at different exposure levels and through the power of science and creativity, blended into a single image that incorporates all of the details from the originals.

This is one that I shot for a prize in the Rally Races for Timothée Richard of Bobber Boyz/Mad Squirrel:

We were set up with the bay and wharf as our backdrop.

I was lucky enough to get a few family members and their friends to come out a few weeks before and use their bikes as examples that I could show clients.

I had found after a while that I had lost sight of the underlying reason why I was vending this year.

Not money, no that helps but wasn't my true reason - my "why".

My "why" in my business is a reflection of what photography does for me personally, it gives me a sense of freedom in my life and I needed to instill that into my booth and how it interacted with the public.

Once I had lost sight of that, I realized that I was stressing over sales and money so that I could get to relax and enjoy myself.

That was sooooo backwards.

I told my friend and fellow photographer Kitrin Jeffrey, who was assisting me with this vending process day-in and day-out, that I needed to think more like a photographer, more of my "why", my freedom, my reason for everything.

I said,"What would someone like Chase Jarvis(whom I consider one of the Patron Saints of Photography) do in a situation like this?  Would he constantly be going over processes like how to greet a client?  How to overcome objections?  How to do a million different things a million different ways?  No, we did all of this when we planned this event.  That work is done.  Chase Jarvis wouldn't worry about the business at this point, he would focus on the moment at hand.  He would enjoy the day, the bikes, the rally itself and then the business would thrive.  I really need a ring or bracelet that says 'WWCJD?'."

And that's when it happened.

I took my camera out of its bag and started shooting "Random WRR Bike Encounters".  I would post them on FB and have fun doing it too!  My mind wasn't stuck in the administration department while the festivities were going all around me - I was a part of the fun!!

The side-effect?

  • We started getting sales.
  • Numbers on my FB Fanpage soared.
  • Strangers that have never heard of me would tell me that they recognized me and my work from these randoms.
  • I got a gleaming spot on the local radio station that sounded like a client testimonial.
  • I stopped stressing and had fun.
That last one isn't quantifiable, but believe me, it is something you can totally feel.

I learned a tonne, worked my ass off, met a lot of people and am more than prepared for next year's partying - scheduling appointments in February. :D

Here are a few randoms for ya.  Click for bigger shots.  Enjoy!


Michael Carty

Michael Carty Website
Michael Carty Email

"Professional" Photography Tips, Kawasaki Motorcycles and Wharf Rat Rally

By tangentpath in fun times kawasaki motorcycle photography tips vision wharf rat rally wisdom

Hey peeps,

I really want to keep things photog related, so I have a few tips for those photographers out there.

"Professional" is a term that shouldn't be used too seriously in this line of work.  There are a lot of so-called "professional" photographers that have no schooling, no talent and no work that call themselves by this title.  On the other hand, you don't NEED schooling or work to produce talent like a professional photographer.  But a key ingredient would be talent, the "eye" of a photographer, or as David duChemin would call it(and I'm stealing the term for the sake of this blog): vision.

I don't care if you have learned from the best schools or the best photographers, and I don't care if you learned everything from years of exploring and experimenting on your gear and craft all by yourself.  It doesn't matter, the only thing that counts(in my opinion) is if you have a vision of what you are trying to create with an image and be able to successfully produce it.

There are many photographers in the world, and the title "professional" has been thrown around so much that it has practically lost all meaning.  I am a photographer, some call me a professional - whatever.  I have a piece of paper framed in my living room that says I am a professional photographer - whatever.  What I need to be a good photographer is to have the ability to create an idea, with meaning or a message that I wish to communicate to my audience, and then execute it into an image that screams what I'm trying to get across to the observer.  If I cannot do this, then no piece of paper, no friends or family comments, NOTHING will make me a professional photographer or even a half decent one.

Photographers are artists and storytellers, we take a single moment - a fraction of a second in most cases - and convey meanings, emotions, whole life stories with it.  In order to do this, we must have many tools at our disposal.  The "eye" for one, which is just to say being able to see what pleases the eye.  It definately helps with composition, which assists in telling our stories clearly and eliminating any distracting clutter that may take away from our message or even send the wrong one.  Of course understanding things like light, color, lines, shapes, etc etc etc can help a photographer better communicate the message being sent.  These are more than tools, they are the photographers language, with which we speak to our audience, our clients, new parents, new in-laws, and on and on.

So throw me a comment or question about this, what you think, am I right? Wrong? Any other thoughts or ideas?  Gimme something! lol

Here, I'll give you this:

This is one thing that I'm keeping busy on:  product portfolio.

My niche is Commercial/Event and Portrait/Fashion.  So what do I do?  I don't wait to get a call from a conglomerate, and if I did, they are going to want to see my work.  So I shoot product, on my own time, I build up this portfolio, my craft gets better and better, and when I get a call or present to a client, I have a whole diverse selection of work to present. 

The great thing is you can do this without changing your life or spending a fortune.  Do you buy shoes?  Shoot them.  Do you drink pop?  Shoot it.  I know it's easy to say "shoot it", and I am simplifying it that way, but really - take the product, create a vision, a meaning, a message.  Set up the shot and shoot, shoot a hundred, or a few hundred shots, take your time - have fun.

The shot above, and this one
are of my cousin Dean and his wife Wendy's Kawasaki motorcycles.

I was home, thinking about product shots, I heard a motorcycle outside - which I will hear constantly for the next 4 days because of the local Wharf Rat Rally in town(it's Canada's largest motorcycle rally, Google it!) and I thought,"I should shoot some bikes and create a faux ad for them."  So after some Facebooking and a phone call, I met Dean and Wendy(and their daughter Lex - she'd kill me if I left her out) at a predetermined location and we shot and talked and laughed and BOOM - done. 

They love the shots, I love the shots, and there are more to come.  It didn't cost me a dime, I spent some time with my family and I got some great work that adds to my portfolio that I never had before.  WIN-WIN-WIN.

So there's a bit of my take on things photog, I hope you took something from it, whether you agree, disagree or even if it made you at least think of something - anything.  I'm sure to have another rant in me soon, lol, see you next week.

Michael Carty