When it comes down to visiting car websites, one of my favorites is Speedhunters. The stories are great, the pictures are great, and their event coverage is pretty cool too.
Most of the photographers on there are really great at what they do, but some of them stand out even more than the rest. That person for me is Paddy McGrath. He has such a sick style and a unique perspective on his shots.
So we decided to reach out to him for an interview and guess what, here it is!
1. Tell us about yourself.
Old enough to know better, but young enough to maybe change it around.
I’m an editorial automotive photographer and journalist from southern Ireland. I’d tell you where, but you never have heard of the place.
2. How did you begin your career in automotive photography?
My Dad used to shoot local stage rallies as a hobby in the ‘80s and ‘90s. One day, he handed me a Pentax MG 35mm and let me have a go. I guess that was the beginning of what would become a lifelong passion and now a career.
From there I eventually progressed to digital, first with a bridge camera before getting my first Canon DSLR. That was the game changer for me and I’ve never really looked back since. I stuck with my education throughout secondary – or high – school before completing a four year BA in Design with Visual Communication. It was this degree course that gave me a great perspective on how photography and design can work together and is something that I still feel the benefit of today.
3. What is your favorite part of shooting cars?
I guess above all else, I’m a car guy before I’m a photographer. I’d hate to have to choose between the two, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Simply being a car photographer has got me access to all sorts of cars that I never could have even dreamed of previously. It’s one thing looking at a car from a distance, but being able to get up close and personal with your dream cars is something a bit special.
4. What is your favorite lens to use and why?
I tend to shoot with just ambient light, as such I lean towards fast glass. I’m a big fan of the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L.
5. What brand of camera(s) and equipment do you like to shoot with the most?
I shoot nearly exclusively with Canon bodies and lenses. I don’t believe them to be better or significantly worse than any other brand, they’re just what I’m familiar with. I try not to overthink setup either, I prefer to keep things as simple as possible.
6. What simple mistake(s) do you see most photographers make today?
I think the biggest mistake a lot of people make is losing confidence when starting out because their work isn’t immediately as good as someone who has been doing it for years. We all had to struggle through those early days, feeling frustrated with what we were producing. I don’t think it ever really gets easier, but you do learn to cope with it better and use it as motivation to improve. Nobody said it was easy!
7. Tell me about your favorite automotive photo shoot.
I think that probably my favourite commission was my first trip to Velden-am-Wörthersee a couple of years back. I met up with some friends in London and we convoyed across Europe through the night to Austria. When we got there, it was like a different world. Just the tastiest modified Volkswagens as far as the eye could see in a setting you wouldn’t believe. With such a chilled atmosphere, it felt more like a holiday than a job. Came away with some great content from that trip.
8. What is the best piece of advice that you have received and why is it so important?
Never work for free. I think it’s pretty self explanatory but if you don’t put a value on your own work, then nobody else will.
9. What advice would you give to upcoming automotive photographers?
Don’t put pressure on yourself to try and become the greatest photographer in the world over night. Enjoy your photography, work hard and your rewards will come.
10. What would you like the LTSC community to take away from this interview?
Don’t follow trends or outright copy others. Use other people’s good work as inspiration but ultimately, do what you feel is right in your heart.
11. Where can we find your portfolio and a way to contact you?
I’m on most major social networking sites as @pmcgphotos.
That’s all folks
Well, there you have it, guys. I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did. Paddy is such an awesome person and photographer. If you enjoy his work then show him some support by giving him a follow on any of the social media sites.
Keep in mind that photography is not about the end result (aka you being the best photographer), it’s about the process. So if you don’t enjoy the process and you don’t enjoy yourself every single time you go out to shoot then you’re in the wrong field, find another hobby.
Everyone wants to be the best, but no one realizes that you have to go through the rough patches to get where those guys are. The only difference between you and the pros is that they have already gone through the hard times that you’re going through but they actually pushed and got through it, they didn’t give up. That is the only way you will make it, just keep pushing.