A few years back we came upon Cody Waters and we did a short blog on his photography. Two years later we are doing another follow up to get a little more personal with him and see where his skills have gone.
MMC: How long have you been shooting?
Cody: Let see, now I've been taking it serious for around 4ish years.
MMC: Have you always shot photos of cars? Anything besides cars?
Cody: Yeah, I think I've done portraits maybe 3 times and the occasional street shooting but the primary has always been cars.
MMC: So it sounds like you like shooting cars more then people?
MMC: Why? Cars don't talk back?
Cody: Ha ha, that is a good reason but not the reason for me. I love a good challenge and with cars I can always keep challenging myself to go further and try new things. Also I just love cars so that helps.
MMC: How long have you been into cars? And why cars?
Cody: Pretty much my whole life, Grew up in the custom car scene with my dad owning a shop.
He built custom cars and race cars...
and general show stuff for large companies like Budweiser, and worked directly with GM on and off.
I guess just always being around all that rubbed off on me. I can't remember a time when I wasn't interested in cars and the general automotive scene.
Unfortunately he retired and closed the shop when I was younger, but I never lost the passion for it and we still enjoy working on stuff to this day.
MMC: I noticed that your father did a lot with Pontiac. Was there any reason why?
Cody: A ton! lol. My grandfather and dad worked for GM and my grandfather retired from GM.
MMC: Ahh, a diehard GM family. I see. So did that affect what car you drive? What kind of car do you drive now?
Cody: Another GM! lol. Currently I have a 2013 Cadillac ATS
MMC: Why so many photos of the GTO, G8 and SS? I think that is how I noticed your photography to begin with. Like these ones here:
Cody: It did start off with 99% Pontiac GTOs and Pontiac G8s. When I really started to get into photography was when a good friend had bought his G8,
and then shortly after I got my GTO.
MMC: So wait, what happened to your Pontiac GTO?
Cody: Well funny story about that... A good friend of mine had been bugging me to sell it to him for over a year and finally he made me an offer I couldn't refuse.
MMC: You are a smart man and sold it before it became a money pit. lol! What mods did you do to the Pontiac GTO?
Cody: Exactly! As far as mods I really didn't do much to it. For the first few years I used it as a nice weather daily (car) essentially. It was an 04, so I put the (in my opinion) much better looking optional 18s on it, as well as a full tune, and some minor suspension mods to fix the horrid saggy springs they are so well known for.
MMC: So what did your first car photo look like?
Cody: Honestly looking back on it, it's pretty bad. It had horrid composition and the exposure was way off. Just all around not good.
MMC: Ah yes, looking at that photo of that Fiero... you have improved 1000% since that time! What camera did you use at that time.
Cody: My first DSLR was a Nikon d80 (if I remember correctly lol) that I bought used.
MMC: What camera equipment are you using now?
Cody: Currently a Canon SL1, my go to lens is a Canon 24mm prime.
MMC: I notice most of your photos are at night or in darker areas. Any particular reason why? Is this a type of branding for yourself? Or is it what you prefer?
Cody: It originally started because I was working second shift. Once I got better it became a branding thing really. I'm most known for my night shots these days so that's what I keep with.
MMC: Ah that makes sense. What are some of your favorite photos?
Cody: Currently my favorite is one I did of a good friend's C6 Grand Sport.
Cody: This image just worked out so well really. The deep red metallic on it really popped and the background contrasted so well. I'm just really happy with how it came out.
There is a Pontiac G8 one I like as well and it's a day shot; different from the normal night time shots I shoot.
This one was taken the day the owner of the car got his Camaro wheels put on. I had to rush to do this shot as a cop showed up right after we got there trying to kick us out. He gave me just enough time to finish it up. Everything worked out so well, the sun was at the perfect height and the we had a great sky for the sunset to give nice reflections in the paint.
MMC: See all police aren't car haters! lol!
Cody: Yeah, I got lucky. lol.
MMC: So what are your thoughts about social media and being a photographer? Has it help you get more recognized? Have there been good things or any bad things that have happened?
Cody: For me social media has helped and not helped at the same time. I'm honestly horrible at keeping up with regular posting so that doesn't help. On the good side though I have met so many awesome people and had the chance to see and shoot cars I never would have been able to otherwise. It comes down to a double edged sword these days. With Facebook for instance, your posts only get seen when they get a bunch of likes or comments in a short time of being posted. If you don't already have a following then it's hard to get the traction for it to be seen. It's definitely something I need to improve on and work at.
MMC: Since your work is really nice, has anyone used your photos without your permission?
Cody: Yeah. I've had that happen several times. Most have been normal people trying to claim they took the photo, etc. However I had one company steal some pics for commercial use and that was definitely a fun situation to sort out. They even used 3 images at once after I specifically said no. These were the images.
MMC: I am sure they did. Did you approached them about it after the fact?
Cody: Yes. At first (they) tried to tell me that since the photos were of cars I didn't own, they had the right to use them as the owner submitted the images. Then they argued with me for a bit more just in general. Eventually we worked it out and they paid for use and that was that.
MMC: I can definitely relate to that. Sounds like a company I know. They took my photos and used them to promote their business. Then they gave me tons of excuses to try to explain why they had the right to use my photos. Guess some people never learn that when it comes down to IP intellectual property, no one has the right to use it just because they found it on Google. People don't understand that and they think you as the photographer are the one being the jerk about it. At least you were paid for your work. Has there been times you were never paid for your work and someone used it?
Cody: Yeah, that's happened as well.
In this case it was essentially a run around of parent and shell companies. A long story short, I got the run around and finally I said screw it.
MMC: It's sad that these things happen. People do not know how much time it takes for the work you do: setting up the photoshoot, the photoshoot itself and the processing. How long the the average shoot take? What has been the longest one?
Cody: Agreed, for my pictures it highly varies on the car, the location, and the time of day/night. Normally one picture will take an average of 4 to 5 hours.
The longest for me would have to be roughly 7 hours.
MMC: Do you see yourself doing this as a full time job or will it always be a hobby for you.
Cody: Currently it's a hobby more than anything. I would love for it to go full time, but it's just getting in with the right company, or getting extremely lucky and going viral or something to get enough shoots to make enough to support all my bills.
MMC: Well Cody, we do wish you the best of luck on your hobby and we always look forward to your next image!
For those of you who wish to check out more of Cody's work please follow him on these social media outlets: