Raw Edit Challenge #1, Nightlife Vibes: The Results

Earlier this month, we started a challenge asking our friends and followers how they would edit a picture shot by Mike Crawat. Such an edit challenge is always a fun way to try your hand at editing images from different cameras to see what you would do with it. And according to us, it’s the best way to train your editing skills for the upcoming spring and summer events!

Our first challenge ended today, so we’re very happy to announce the winners:
  1. @louismorrismedia - prize: McLaren 5 pack + Nightlife preset pack
  2. @herbeeey - prize: Italian Vibes preset pack
  3. @tauli.pics - prize: Sunset preset

We would also take the time to thank all the 633 entrants of this contest. Keep an eye on our website and @driverscult Instagram channel because we’ll launch a new challenge soon!

We are convinced these edit challenges are the perfect way to learn more about editing, so we took the time to sit down with the winner - Louis Morris - to talk about his views, experiences and adventures in the automotive photography scene.

Hello Louis, congratulations on winning our 1st edit challenge! Could you introduce yourself to the readers?

I’m Louis Morris Media from Leicester, I’m a self taught Photographer/Videographer (and Personal Trainer) - I mainly shoot cars but also models, weddings, events and creative stuff, so a bit of everything really which is more fun. I use a Sony A7iii with loads of lenses but recently got a Samyang 35mm 1.4 which is mad to shoot with and super sharp. I use a DJI Ronin S with a monitor for my video work.

I’d say the Lamborghini Huracan Performante shot embodies my style the most. The crazy story around it, is that I was not only hired to film a video for @Slixcarcare but it was a crazy mansion location and was my 1st proper supercar job. As a car lover, it was just a beautiful creation to be around. I stood there so many times just staring at it thinking, “yo this is sickkk” haha, so pretty proud moment for sure!

Through starting with photography, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I think I’ve learnt that you really have to put the hard work in to make a name for yourself as a photographer or videographer. I’m always looking at what other photographers aren’t doing so I’m not following a “trend”, to I guess stand out from the rest. Some of the best times I’ve had with my camera were at car shows because I meet followers that notice me from Instagram (they normally recognise the dreads haha) and say hello which is sick that they appreciate my work too.

I get a lot of messages asking for advice on cameras, editing, how I shoot or how I photoshopped out a whole car from the background of a shot when I show a before and after. To me, I just love taking pictures and creating content for car lovers to enjoy so hearing mad positive feedback on my Youtube videos and pictures on Insta makes me so happy knowing I’m achieving what I wanted to do.

It’s pretty sick that people say they know it’s my picture just by looking at it because I have my own kinda style of shooting and editing, for me I’ve always loved to try new ways of shooting and even spending hours at a time watching videos on editing in Photoshop, Lightroom, videos in Premiere Pro etc so then I’d take time to go out and actually just practice something to hone in on my own shooting skills for difficult conditions like rain, night, street, model shoots etc. so I feel confident knowing I can get hired for pretty much anything and smash it. I tend to do more to some pictures in terms of editing just to use it as practice for example removing people, cars, lampposts etc so I’m more efficient at it.

Since you won our first editing challenge, could you please explain your editing process?

Yeah I’m still shook I won!! I look up to Mike’s car photography so much, the way he shoots and edits is madness so naturally I saw his post about an editing challenge so just had to give it a go.

So with the final edit that won the contest I basically took the waw file into photoshop first, looked at what distracts my eyes and removed them. I took out the drainage hole and made the double yellows complete, white spots/gum off the floor, white lines on the road, light reflections on the car’s window and darkened it, there’s one light on the right that was a different colour temp so I matched it to the other two.

So after that I saved it into a Photoshop file, took it into Lightroom, chose a preset I made last year because I also take similar under exposed shots, then finished by editing the vibe of the shot like I normally would and guess that was enough. Aqua tones in the top, warm tones near the bottom and I was happy with that really, seeing the other edits people were doing in the challenge and noticed nearly everyone was adding extra things to the shot, pipe flames and stuff... Which were all sick but I just thought for this shot I wanted to keep it simple and pleasing to look at. There were so many [others – ed.] I saw and thought that’s gonna win for sure!

Is this the first editing challenge you participated in, and why do you participate in them?

My first editing challenge was one @sciroccob put on a few weeks ago which was fun and good to see how sick other people are at editing, too. That’s why I loved it as I really appreciate the art of a photo.

Is this the first one you won?

This Mike challenge was the first one I’ve ever won though and still mad to think after seeing the other edits man I’m gassed haha.

What did you learn from the previous ones?

I’ve learnt to just stick to doing what I’d normally do to edit and don’t follow what others are doing although loads of them are mad!

What have been the most influential photographers, books, podcasts, or other resources?

I’d have to say @krispy, @halcyonphoto and @hartnettmedia for everything on videography on Youtube, straight fire car edits like the best I’ve ever seen, the way they all shoot and edit such amazing shots, emotions, transitions and show off the car scene from the US and all over the world is what’s inspired me to create more… Sounds dumb but Krispy and Halcyon both have commented on my content which was mad to me as I look up to them so much hahah.

Top Photographers would be of course @mikecrawat, every shot is insane! @gfwilliams, @northborders, @rtwenty3 has to be my favourite UK photographer, insane shots and proper sound guy in person.

There’s so many I could name hahah, as much as I love shooting, I do look up to and feel inspired by a lot of content creators out there. I believe for you to become a better photographer or videographer you need to appreciate and love other people’s work.

Any advice for other photographers who want to get started or are just starting out?

I’d say the best advice when starting is worry less about what camera you have but learn more about HOW to shoot, put it this way I’ve seen some people spend £100 on a camera with a kit lens and the edits were sick, so knowing the ins and outs of how to shoot the subject can have more impact on the finals shots. If you’re getting into Cars too and wanting to charge, expect to do loads of free shoots before that but treat them as practice - I mean if you’re a week into photography ask yourself ‘would you hire YOURSELF for a car shoot’?

If you’re gonna be self taught like me, It’s pretty essential to sit down and learn from the best about photography, like what ISO means, shutter speed, kelvin, composition, raw and the list goes on! I’ve been shooting for like 3 years and still learning daily! Yes it takes a long time to learn, too. Few hours a day if you’re serious about it.

Making mistakes is part of becoming better, I’ve looked back at old edits and thought ‘damn that’s a terrible shot’ but at the time I didn’t know any better so don’t expect to be perfect from the start. One thing I did early on was ask people and other photographers to be completely honest about my edits and what I can do to be better.

Last, but not least: What preset did you pick from our store and why?

I went for the Italian vibes pack because I’ll always love the daytime feel in car photography. I can edit in so many different ways shooting in the day so thought I’d enjoy these the most. I’m excited to put them to the test on my own raw shots!

Just thought I’d add, thank you so much to anyone who voted on my edit, Kenny from Drivers Cult and Mike Crawat for choosing me as the winner really means a lot to me and I’m more motivated than ever to shoot more!!!