Capturing Cars: Junior finds passion with automotive photography, hired to take pictures of expensive cars

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Ricky Shull

Danielle Williams, Entertainment Editor

For most teens, after school jobs include working at fast food restaurants or maybe babysitting.
But for junior Ricky Shull, his source of some extra cash is a highly demanding job as a automobile photographer, which includes his own website as well as many paying customers.
When he was in middle school, Shull began photographing these cars and sharing them on various car websites as well as with his peers.
“I carried around a cheap little camera, and I took pictures of the cool cars I saw on the streets,” Shull said. “Eventually, I got frustrated with the quality of my pictures and wanted to start improving that.”
After five years of practice — three as a paid professional — Shull said he is frequently hired to artfully capture a variety of cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles and even boats for commercial or personal use.
“Some people trade service for service, give discounts or offer money in return for my work,” he said.
Shull said he has had a passion for cars ever since he was born, largely due to his exposure from a young age.
“One of my grandfathers owned a Ford dealership for decades,” Shull said. “My other grandfather sold custom wheels in Chicago for awhile. They were both always bringing me the latest hot wheels and getting me magazines.”
Shull said he looks at the automotive world as much more than just a form of commuting — it can be a form of expression, freedom and opportunity.
“The culture of the automotive world, no matter what kind of car, is really welcoming and encouraging,” Shull said.
Shull said the time he dedicates toward his work varies with each season.
“Spring and fall, I spend five hours [a week taking pictures] — school is my priority then,” Shull said. “In the summer, I usually dedicate nine or ten hours [a week]. Winter sees the fewest hours because of school, tests and poor weather.”
While most automotive photographers want to work with Ferraris and Lamborghinis, Shull said he prefers to capture custom cars because they are unique.
“The newest Ferrari is what everyone wants to see, but when all the photographers of the world shoot the car, it becomes nothing special,” he said. “Anything custom is the best because you get unique details new cars don’t have.”
Shull said his passion lies with vintage cars and trucks.
“Seeing the custom coachwork and details in an old Ferrari or Cadillac or the worn leather and rusted body panels is really exhilarating to me,” he said.
Shull has worked with cars ranging from a custom Volkswagen to Lamborghinis to a multimillion-dollar Ferrari.
“My favorite car I’ve worked with would be the Gulf Oil-Liveried Superformance Ford GT40,” Shull said.
Shull said he has taken some inspiration from a few websites — however, most of what he knows is self-taught.
“It has been a combination of practice and looking to other photographers for inspiration,” he said. “That has helped me create my own style that continues to develop and change.”
Shull said he hopes to create and own a small business. Although he is not sure what type of business, Shull said he believes this hobby has taught him many necessary lessons that are vital to entrepreneurship.
“Working through high school as a photographer has helped me learn about networking, marketing, sales and all the other aspects of the business world,” he said.
Shull said automotive photography has taught him how to communicate professionally with adults.
He said the most important thing he will take away is a strong work ethic.
“The people I work with are successful businessmen, lawyers, doctors and entrepreneurs,” Shull said. “They’ve built themselves from the ground up, and knowing them has instilled that motivation inside of me.”