Skip to main content

Meet Aaron

Lesson 1 from: The Automotive Photography Workshop

Aaron Brimhall

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

1. Meet Aaron

Aaron Brimhall is best known for his iconic work for Mercedes Benz, Aston Martin, and Volvo. In this episode he talks about his origins in commercial photography, and how he saw what he wanted in life, and worked hard to start achieving it.
Next Lesson: Workshop Overview

Lesson Info

Meet Aaron

(air whooshes) Hey guys, I'm Aaron Brimhall. I'm a commercial automotive photographer here in Salt Lake City. I was born and raised here and I'm never leaving because I love it so much. Some of the brands I've shot for are Kia, Acura, Mountain Dew Indian Motorcycles, Honda Motorcycles, Husqvarna. And yeah, I'm here to tell you guys a little bit about who I am, what I do, and how I brand myself. Here you go. So how I got into photography, I grew up snowboarding and I always had a camera in my hand and I didn't think anything of it at the time. This is like, I mean, I grew up snowboarding like, when I was eight, but obviously I didn't have a camera then. Middle school came, had a Dad Cam, and me and the friends were always filming everything, literally everything, and we'd hand it off to my friend Colin, and he would make these, you know, funny talent show videos for middle school and high school. And it was just fun, like, I don't know, we were just doing the dumbest stuff all the tim...

e and social media wasn't even around. And I think that, to me, I wasn't trying to do anything with a camera, and it just came naturally, which is really cool. I think that really stuck with me was anything action involved. That's kind of where it led me to now. But before that, I graduated, and my girlfriend at the time, now my wife, she had some photo homework assignments when she was in high school. And I basically helped her out with all the photo stuff and photo stuff was like, pretty new to me. 'Cause I was just, you know, pressing record and getting cool angles with the fisheye. That's basically all I knew, but ironically she had a Nikon, it was like a D70 or something like that, and a big fisheye lens, was like a 14 millimeter, and we just messed around with that for like, probably two years and kind of just got a feel for, you know, getting cool angles here and there. I had restaurant jobs, retail jobs. I was working at a sushi restaurant for, you know, three years and then retail for three and a half years. My last job, my last, like, nine to five job was a call center, and I was literally selling internet and phone. And I was like, what am I doing? Luckily, my wife's dad lived in Macau, and I texted him one day. Like, never even met the guy, like we, well, okay, I met him once when we got married, but he's been living in China this whole time. And I texted him. I met him briefly at our wedding and I was like, hey, can Sal and I move to Macau or Hong Kong and just stay with you for a little bit. And we had no plan and he was like, yeah, come out. So, saved all my money from the call center, we packed our things, left to Hong Kong for a year. In that year, I learned how to edit, I learned how to, I mean, kind of anything really business related. I was emailing brands all day, every day. I got hundreds of nos or hundreds of, like obviously people would just ghost me. (crickets chirping) But in that time I learned how to edit, obviously, and then I found a group of people in Hong Kong that were just like super core, vintage Ace motorcycle wannabees. They like, they just love that whole style. You know, I met up with them once a week and took photos of 'em, learned how to shoot more motion stuff with like, automotive, just bikes, in general. And that's when InstaMeets were huge. And so any InstaMeet in Hong Kong I would go to, and sure enough, I met up with some roof toppers, Daniel Low and Eric Bedrone. That kind of gave me more of a feel for different perspectives because... And it was still like an adrenaline rush, and it was still action involved, and that's kind of why I liked it. And I always stuck with that, but we would literally sneak into these, into big skyscrapers in Hong Kong. And we, yeah, basically shoot (laughs) my friends hanging off the sides of buildings. And I think what really sparked like a cool thing about photography in general was one of the, it wasn't even my photo, but one of the photos that my friend took ended up in Time magazine. It was of me hanging off the ledge in Hong Kong, off this big skyscraper. And I thought that was really cool. And I wanted to have my photos in a magazine, and that's when I really started going hard on reaching out to magazines and brands, and sure enough Iron & Air magazine, they're a like a motorcycle lifestyle magazine, I hit them up and I was like, hey, I have this really cool idea about a motorcycle helmet builder that lives in Jakarta, Indonesia. And I would love to like, you know, have an assignment on going and documenting that whole thing. And they bought into it, gave me 500 bucks and a flight out there. And that was the coolest thing ever. So when I got out there, this is kind of cool because this guy that I met really took me under his wing and taught me all about commercial photography. And I didn't really know anything about commercial photography. So prior to that, like a week before, I was messaging this guy, I was like, hey, we're coming out, we're gonna do this cool documentary piece about you for Iron & Air. And he was like really stoked. I get to Jakarta, the guy ghosts me for two days. I don't hear anything. (crickets chirping) And I'm stuck in Jakarta by myself, not knowing what to do. It's the first time I'm ever in a third world country, basically. Luckily this guy named Harret from Elders Helmets, another helmet company, not even the one that I'm talking about right now, I don't even remember what they were called, but he happens to have this motorcycle company, or motorcycle helmet company and little do I know, he's one of the biggest commercial photographers in Southeast Asia. And I didn't even think really anything of it, but he took me to the studio, it's probably like 10,000 square foot studio of different rooms with studios, of like setup studios, and then he has another room with all his employees. It's just a big editing bay. And I was so new to it. And I was like, what is going on? He's like, do you see all these billboards around here? I was like, yeah, there's tons of 'em, they're crazy. But Asia has this type of feel that's like, it's so different from us. And he's like, yeah, basically I shot all that. And I didn't even think it was that cool at the time, but I was like, okay, maybe I could learn some stuff from this guy. And so he is like, why don't we drive down to Mount Bromo on motorcycles tomorrow? And it will take 12 hours on bikes. And I was like, let's do it, it's all good. And he's like, let's do a story on Elders Helmets, and that's the other company I own. I was like, okay, let's do it. The next morning, packed all my stuff, drove 12 hours on a bike, had the craziest back pain of my life. What I saw from Harret at the time on Mount Bromo was how hard he worked. And he had a family, he had two kids, he has a wife at the time, and this was 2015. And I really wanted that. And for him being the biggest photographer in Southeast Asia and also having time for himself and bringing me onto these projects, like out of nowhere, just like winging it, that's what really sparked what I wanted to do full time. So as soon as I got back to the states, I immediately started building that lifestyle for myself, and I wanted it so bad. I didn't get a job, which I was probably supposed to, but we lived in my parents' house and I worked beyond hard to try and get even just one job. And that one job I landed, it was actually another helmet company here in the states. Yeah, I think it was just like a snowball effect. Everything started rolling, nothing came easy, but it was a lot of pushing myself and working harder to try to get those brands that I wanted to work for. For me, I think the biggest thing was people really wanna know what you're worth and like, kind of, I don't know, they really wanna see your brand, and I didn't want to be doing everything. I didn't wanna wear all hats. I wanted to be good at one thing. And that was automotive/action. I stuck with it and it's definitely not easy still but yeah, I'm still learning and I'm working hard, so. The first big job I got was a social campaign, and it was for that helmet company Biltwell. They provided me with some cash and a bunch of parts for mine and my friends motorcycles. And I literally took it as if it were like, someone was paying me a million dollars. And I literally put my heart and soul into creating some sort of concept and effort on doing something different. And so we started literally standing on our motorcycles going 60 miles per hour. And I think that's what like, really kind of blew up my social media in a way. Since then, I've always wanted to do something different or something outside of the box. And that could just be like the simplest thing, you know? That could be throwing something in the foreground, or kicking up dust that's in the foreground of the photo or whatever it is. But for me, doing something outside of the box really stuck out and that's kind of where I built my brand in a way. So that was like one of my biggest, first social campaigns. After I did like a ton of, you know, smaller jobs, somehow I landed my first commercial big job. And I was beyond nervous going into that. The night before was a feeling I've never felt before. And it was, you know, butterflies and just constant knots in my stomach. So day of this commercial job, it was actually for Honda cars, I get to set, I'm there before client and agency, I'm literally thinking to myself, I do not know what I'm doing. But at the same time, you know, in the back of my head, I've done this for the last three years. And I mean, I kind of know what I'm doing, but at the same time, there's grip and gaff, there's lighting people, there's client and agency alone, I have assistance, I have all this stuff. This is all new to me. And I think in a way, too, you really have to take charge, and kind of like, almost faking it, you know, until you make it. But you can't let that fear be seen by, you know, the people that you're working for or else you're gonna look bad, but I think I've been pretty good about taking charge and doing what I do, 'cause I mean, I've been doing this for 10 years, or had a photo in my hand for 10 years, but at the time, have to be as confident as you can. And you know, at the end of the day, you're doing what you wanna do, and you're taking photos in the back of your head, it's not that hard, but being on jobs with like, 50+ people can be pretty overwhelming, but you really just gotta, I don't know, think your creative way through it, and yeah, do your job. Right now, I think, when someone hires me during like a big job, 'cause a lot of the times it's... When you're bidding against these jobs, so a commercial job, you're going through an agency, and it's either a double or triple bids, like rarely quadruple bids. And what that means is you're literally versing two other photographers or another photographer. What makes you stand out is your brand and your feel and how you're gonna approach things, your creativeness. I think what sticks out for me and my brand is my editing, I feel like. My editing is just a little different. It's a little darker. It's a little grittier. I think to me, I wanna be different and I don't wanna be like the clean average commercial photographer. I want there to be some grittiness and I want there to be like, some story told in that photo. I want there to be rawness, and so I think that's kind of what stands out in my portfolio is like, the rawness and realness of the feel of my photos. All right, looking back 10 years ago. I mean, I always knew I wanted to do photo stuff, but I didn't know it was gonna get to where I am now. It's humbling when you're on big sets, and you literally don't know what you're doing some of the times, but for me having a a team that knows what they're doing and in the back of your head, you, I mean, you have your camera in your hand, you know your creativeness, and all that stuff. But I think the biggest thing for me is learning. And I'm still learning. I still don't know a lot of things. Building a team surrounding me that, you know, just that confidence when you're on set and clients in the back of your ear, asking you what you're doing. You still don't know but you kind of know what you're doing, but you're still learning. And I want to take everything I've learned over the past 10 years and kind of show you guys what I know and where I'm at now and give you a little sense on how I shoot every campaign. Yeah, basically on how I edit and my style and how I brand myself.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Automotive Presets

Ratings and Reviews

Ben Waugh

Worth Every Cent! Keen For More! This was awesome, definitely keen to see more of these in the future! Keep them coming dude! Loved seeing your edit breakdown and workflow. Would love to see some more of the behind the scenes of planning a shoot too - @benwaugh

Allison Gregory

From Zero to Hero Awesome workshop to not only get my first taste of automotive shoots, but I am walking away with a shoot set-up and planned to create speck work and present brands with decks. I loved how Aaron really explained everything he was doing. He rocks.

Adrian Mirabal

Amazing and WORTH IT! I have followed Aaron Brimhall for a while now and when I saw he was releasing a workshop I knew I had to get it! If you are wanting to shoot anything in motion or automotive action this is the workshop for you!

Student Work