Capturing the art of the car with Andi Hedrick

Auto Digest recently had a conversation Andi Hedrick, an experienced automotive photographer who has spent years in the industry working on projects for Audi, Porsche, Rolls-Royce and Ferrari, among others. His beautiful photographs have been featured all over magazines, sales displays and PR pieces in an attempt to attract customers to a brand by showing them the perfect angle of their new model.

I originally sent Andi a message on Instagram asking to use his images on this site after seeing his content in one of my Car and Driver magazines, but recently I realized there was an opportunity to share what he’s like career.

His interest in photography initially stemmed from the skateboarding and BMX world in high school, where (and these are his words) he “wasn’t very good at it, so I took pictures of my friends instead.” This seemed to work for him socially and creatively. Fast forward to his college days, where he tried his hand at regular academic life… studying business at a local university and crunching numbers late into the night. After some time he realized that this idea of ​​the ideal life he was pursuing was probably not for him. As he became more dissatisfied with the usual course load, Andi spent long hours in the university’s darkroom developing photographs taken in his coveted spare time. It was there, alone in that room, just him and the photos… where the rest of the world would disappear for a moment.

One of Andi’s first projects was for Rolls Royce in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 2018.

After doing this for enough time, he thought it was probably time for a change.

“I remember calling my parents one day and saying, ‘Hey mom, I’m going to quit school and completely change my direction.’ They weren’t excited, they were supportive… and that was pretty cool.”

His first real paying photography job was for a ski and snowboard company. At the time, he was making $7.50 an hour taking product photos in the store. It was small, but he realized he could make money just from photography. After this, he spent some time doing fashion photography in Chicago, but the start-up company he was working for had lost its funding and had to close up shop. Starting life!

New beginnings

After losing his job in the fashion industry, Andi had a few weeks to figure everything out. The following month he was visiting family in Detroit and randomly came across a car photographer (perfect, right?) This man must have seen potential, because he invited Andi to join a project filming 50 Audi TDI models in front of the main building (right across from the FBI… maybe that obvious display of hubris is what inspired Diesel Gate) .

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The best way to get into this industry is to find a photographer you work well with, assist them, and then network and take on your own clients. That was my first push. It’s a combination of luck and putting energy into it once you get lucky.

He didn’t make much money at first, and he lived with his parents for about a year before gaining a foothold in the industry.

Recent project of his for Ferrari in New York. This model is the Daytona SP3. Note the improvement in this over the Rolls-Royce photos.

The Yin and the Yang

Andi made it a point to highlight how volatile the automotive photography industry is. He said there are always a lot of false starts along the way that can be discouraging… especially if someone is newer to the game. Traditionally (in other industries) when you get a call from someone and go to a job interview, he or she is serious about the project, but in the last two months Andi said he could count almost ten jobs that are “in the background set or cancelled’.

On the other hand, if you succeed, it’s quite rewarding. Andi came from a working-class family that was the same as many of us… there were some career options that were realistic and, to be honest, photography wasn’t really one of those.

Tracy Morgan in a race car!

During the interview, Andi said that he is rarely satisfied with the nuances of his work, and that he is his own worst critic… but a certain level of constant drive for improvement is what clients admire about his work. Whatever he does, it seems to work out pretty well… I mean, he’s made million dollar pictures FerrariSP3 in New York City.

“If I deliver work and I’m doing well, I’ve done what I needed to do technically and handed it over and the client is satisfied, then I will most likely still look at that and think that it could have been better. If you’re always excited about your own things, you won’t take yourself to the next level.”

Andi commented on the three levels of car photography, with Level 1 being the least profitable while Level 3 makes the big bucks. Due to the experience he has gained over the years, he has recently found himself at the higher levels.

Andi said he often looks at photos like this, photos he took years ago, and shakes his head knowing how much better he can make the same angles look now.

Who is your Max Verstappen from Automotive Photography?

That’s one of the questions Andi was asked. He said most offer unique stylistic elements. However, Marc Urbano stands out for Andi as a mentor in both his career and personal life. He helped Andi become a better photographer, and even more a better person.

“Marc has a wonderful family, is an excellent husband and people always want to have their picture taken with him. He operates at the highest possible level and yet is so humble when you talk to him. Stylistically we are going in opposite directions, but like a photographer and as a human being I would be very happy if I could touch the marks of what he did to go and photograph the Isle of Mann and live a little in the glory days of the industry traveling all over the world.”

Marc seems to be something of a leading role model for Mr. Hedrick, and Marc’s work is also often featured in Car and Driver magazines.

A bit old fashioned

Social media has changed the game for people who make a living taking pictures of cars. Andi said that now anyone can gain an audience and make a name for themselves. For him, though, social media isn’t something he’s passionate about, so he’s largely avoided it until now (we’ve connected via Instagram, but he’s not super active and certainly doesn’t consider it part of his job). “business development” or professional tasks). When he uses us on social media, he often posts crazy and strange things there. He doesn’t want to put the same work he does for OEMs on Instagram. He understands that it’s a great way to share art and connect with people, but thinks it’s unnatural that we’ve made it so that everyone has to be their own self-promoter 100% of the time to tell everyone how great their life is .

This image is the image that led to this conversation. Andi posted it on Instagram and I had to ask if it was AI generated. He said no.

Andi hides the number of likes on all his posts.

He’s convinced he could be an “influencer” if he made it more of a priority and showed brands and potential customers his engagement stats… but he said he’d hate himself if he went that route.

Golden age of industry

Speaking specifically about the business side of it, there was a time when a photographer, if he had the same contracts that Andi had now, he would make millions of dollars a year. Since then it seems like the industry has changed a bit and budgets have dropped as photographers can do more with technology in less time.

Oh yeah… and AI. It’s inevitable, we just had to touch it. Andi expressed his grievances about AI and how he thinks it will change and turn the industry he loves inside out. He thinks the agency world will be the first to be hit and that he (as an individual) will be a little more insulated from the effects of AI. It’s a generational thing and Andi thinks people who grew up with regular (non-AI) photos will always be hungry for authentic photos.

It’s a wild situation, especially if you work for yourself and you just hope the salaries keep coming in. It’s a lot to adapt to in a short time. (commenting on the effects of AI and technology on his career)

Andi specified that the transition from film to digital was the highlight. 2007, 08 and 09 were a great time when film was at its peak and people were making a lot of money thanks to big project budgets. Andi believes the profession was more respected when it lasted longer and technology wasn’t the great equalizer. Back then, people went to small Italian towns and said, “This shot looks great, but those power lines look bad. Can we put them underground?” The locals rolled their eyes, but perhaps the paycheck eased their pain somewhat.

More from the 2018 photoshoot. He was in a long-distance relationship with (his current wife) at the time. He remembers texting her during this trip.

Growing up in a working-class family, he never had to get on a plane until he was 25, but now he flies 70 to 80 times a year. Hopefully he’s signed up for Sky Miles! This signifies the severity of the lifestyle change that photography brought about in this Midwestern man’s life. Good photos can go a long way.

Andi also got to brag about the cool cars he gets to drive on the job (let’s just say they’re driven in a “racy” way). He complained that it’s quite a struggle to drive Audi RS7s or Porsches and then go back to the airport parking garage and get into his very reliable, but slightly less attractive, 4Runner.

Thanks for reading to the end of the article. Here’s a crazy photo of the man, the myth, Mr. Andi Hedrick.

To Andi: Thank you for taking the time to talk.

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