The rights structure for his contract with Audi involves the use of race event photos for editorial and P.R. purposes only. Since there’s much demand from magazines and websites—particularly in Europe, where sports car racing is huge—Lefebure’s photos are widely circulated.
If Audi-sponsored cars win a race and the company wants to run an ad with images Lefebure shot, he negotiates a separate fee with Audi’s ad agency, depending on the size of the ad page, the number of inserts, and the number of magazines and newspapers it’s appearing in, on a per-image basis. “That’s where the real money is,” Lefebure says. “That’s what makes it worthwhile.”
The relationship is also profitable for Audi, which has seen a 30 percent uptick in sales since the company aggressively entered sports car racing in 2000 and began cross-promoting their road vehicles by running images of Audi racecars in print and on television.
If history is any indication, Audi’s latest push into the U.S. market will be with diesel cars after Audi’s diesel-powered R10s finished first and third in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and won all seven of the 2006 ALMS races the R10 competed in.
Although popular in Europe, where 50 percent of vehicles sold are diesel-powered, diesel engines have had a stigma in the U.S. for being loud and polluting. Modern diesels are actually clean and efficient and get better gas mileage than gas-powered vehicles. Audi hopes to promote this message with its new road diesel models.
A striking shot Lefebure captured of the two diesel-powered Audi R10s running side-by-side has become one of his most popular images of 2006. The image has been used repeatedly by Audi and its suppliers.
Getting great shots of motorsport takes a tremendous amount of work and requires Lefebure to draw on the design skills he developed studying fine art and graphic arts in school, while photographing the Transamerica building and other assignments.
“I shoot 2,500 to 4,000 photographs for ALMS races, processing 400 to 800 images. I shoot everything in RAW, so I put them all through Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop,” Lefebure says. “With all the automated features and actions in Photoshop, I can crank out 200 to 300 images a day, which is almost as long as it took with film. The difference is with film you spent three to five days peering over a light table. These days, you might spend three to five days looking at a virtual light table on your monitor. I love my job, but it’s by no means glamorous.”
In addition to the time it takes to process work, Lefebure, who shoots primarily with a Canon EOS 5D and EOS 1D Mark II N, finds digital has made everything more competitive.
“The corporate way these days is all about the bottom line and trying to pay as little as possible. Older photographers miss the 1980s and out-of-sight budgets. Things have changed and a lot of photographers have moved on to other things. That’s why you have to structure your business plan and fight to keep pricing where it should be.”
For more Lefebure images, visit www.regislefeburephoto.com