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pj1974 Oct 10, 2008 9:02 AM

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Hello all

Been a while since I've been online. Last weekend I went camping up in the Flinders Ranges (300km north of Adelaide), enjoying the spring here in South Australia. Took my camera to make photos of the spring wildflowers, hills, gorges, etc.

On my way back down I stopped in at Port Pirie to get some petrol, and there was a car race happening on a track right beside the main road. I stopped, took my camera out (350D / Rebel XT) with my 28-135mm lens attached. Several modified cars were going around the dusty circuit. So I quickly set up camera and took a few photos.

About 60 seconds after I had arrived there (I had taken about 5 photos) - a car came round the corner and as it began the straight its engine literally burst into flames. I had just prefocussed on it and took a series of photos as it!

When I reviewed on my camera's screen, I could see they were quite ok (I mean, exposure, shutter speed, composition, etc). I realised probably no one else had captured this car's engine bursting into flame because there were few people on that side of the track (the main grandstand was on the other side).

So I went into the track-side area, asked a guy (a stranger I didn't know) if the media was there, and if so, if he could tell me where. His sister said she knew. She walked with me to where her brother was (near the grandstand) - and he in turn pointed me to the local paper's journalist. ("the Recorder")

I approached her and said I had some photos of the car that had burst into flames (and which had been extinguished and the driver was out ok). I asked if I could forward them to her. She gave me her business card.

That night when I got home I emailed her. She called me the next day and said "Wow, these photos are amazing, fantastic! I really want to use them". I had noticed that she had a professional Nikon DSLR with her, she opened her camera bag to hand me her business card.

Anyway, lo and behold - a day later it was the main photo on the front page of that newspaper - which I was really impressed with. My colleagues at work told me I should have charged then a few hundred dollars to use my photo. When I emailed her the photos and discussed by phone I said I would be happy for the paper to use them as long as I was given full credit for any photos like this: Photo: Paul Jansen.

So here is a scan of the paper, and then following (in the next post) is the actual photo by itself. To be honest although it's not a terrible photo, I don't think it is one of my better photos by far. In fact, I'd say it isn't a fantastic or fabulous photo. But hey considering I was taking it out of my car window just a few seconds after arriving, I think it shows "being at the right place at the right time" can be worth a lot of "photo grace"!

Your comments / feedback gratefully welcomed!


pj1974 Oct 10, 2008 9:04 AM

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Here is the actual photo by itself...

Thanks for viewing / reading and looking forward to your responses.


[email protected] Oct 10, 2008 10:00 AM

Good for you!

You'll have plenty of memories from such an exciting event (getting your photo on the front page).

Back in 1988 I was at the Calgary Canada winter olympics when a friend of mine snapped a picture of a 70 meter ski jumper catching a camera boom mid-air and wiping out.

He got 100 rolls of film and $125 payment for the photo that made the front of the sports page (as an inset to another picture showing the jumper crumpled on the ground).

So, we still fondly remember that experience 20 years later.

JohnG Oct 10, 2008 11:16 AM


Congratulations! It's great to get published.

One of the things that can be frustrating as a photographer - either working for a paper or selling to people - what the customer likes and what you like can be VERY different things. Especially with newspaper - you could have 100 stunning photos but they want the one that's relevant to the story.

Good for you!

My only suggestion from here on out - you've got your first cover. Next time make sure you get paid the going rate. They'll pay it but only if they have to. Your work isn't a snapshot from a camera phone. So now that you have your keepsake don't shortchange yourself. When opportunities come knocking you want people thinking of you as a professional caliber shooter. Right or wrong, part of that thinking is whether you charge. Give someone free stuff (when it's not a promotional thing) and they'll think of you as an amature. You're better than that.

Congratulations again!

k1par Oct 10, 2008 11:24 AM

Good job. Excellent photo :cool:

bluesman graham Oct 10, 2008 2:57 PM

Congratulations Paul:cool:. It;s a nice shot.I have to Echo what John says!. Press work can at times be so unrewarding. Nothings worse than thinking you've submitted a great shot, 0nly to find it cropped, ball missing!! (why did i bother trying to get it in!!) & basically violated by the Editors & publishers :lol:. Kind regards Graham.

bahadir Oct 10, 2008 4:00 PM

Actually after a long while (for a great contributor such as yourself) you've returned victorious my friend:cool:No wonder you'd do itconsidering your passion about photography!Thank you for sharing the story as well, which isreallyenlivening and inspiring. After all, you were energetic enoughnot tosuffice with enjoyingthat greatimage on the displayat the back of the camera..Btw, I too did a paid job for someEuropean agency some time ago but haven't been paid yet!!

pj1974 Oct 17, 2008 6:44 AM

Sorry everyone, I had not acknowledged your kind replies here!

Thanks for the congratulations and sharing the joy I had of getting on the front page of a newspaper! I am still glad, and one of my work colleagues (and a fellow photographer) is jealous and rubbing it in, in a good way!

Terry: thanks for sharing the story about the 88 Calgary Olympics - it's good to hear other's stories, and I'm glad you still fondly remember 20 years on!

John: I appreciate your kind words, especially as I admire much of your sports photos. About the suggestion, I'll take it on board!

K1par: your positive feedback is appreciated! Cheers.

bluesman graham: Thank you also for sharing your advice, as it wasn't "press work" I guess I was happy to hit the front page, but I'm still learning to at least "act and do the terms" like a pro! :-)

Bahadir: your kind words are almost too much... 'victorious' is perhaps a good word for the car driver who allowed me such a great photo opportunity! Thanks for the feedback and encouragement. I hope you will get paid for the European agency.... what type of work was it?

Thanks again everyone!


Photo 5 Mar 15, 2009 10:46 PM

I shoot fires, rescues and the like around where I live. Done many car fires but now have looked as good as yours did. You did a great job on that car fire shot and it looks like you timed the shot perfectly as well.

Great shot and congrads on making the front page of the paper.


pj1974 Mar 16, 2009 2:01 AM

Hi Dave

Thank you for your kind compliments regarding the photo (I was surprised to see it come up again after being dormant for several months!)

Yes, I am thankful with the timing. I pretty much realised it was likely no one else had caught that car on fire like that.

What sort of "fire" photography do you do, in connection with rescues? Are you connected with media or with your local fire brigade?



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