This latest interview is with Simon Plant. If you’ve seen a copy of Top Marques Magazine in the UK over the last 18 months or so, chances are you’ve seen Simon’s work. He also runs the highly successful Pro Photo Insights website offering downloadable video tutorials on digital photography and photoshop image manipulation.
Q. How long have you been a photographer and have you always been a car shooter?
A. Been shooting over 20 years,started out shooting lifestyle images for Clarks Shoes and other advertising clients.
Q. Are you a staff photographer or freelance?
A. Always freelanced
Q. What’s in your bag?
Canon 1ds Mk2,Canon 400d,28-70 L series,70-200 L series, 15-30 Sigma,Flashguns,Pocket Wizards,Polarizer,Nd Filters, etc etc,I’m not an equipment freak I buy the best and just use it.
Q. Favourite gadget or piece of equipment?
A. Probably a £3.00 hotshoe spirit level (told you !)
Q. Are you an in-the-camera shooter or do you use post production a lot?
A. Both ! I’ve always manipulated my images, it used to be in the darkroom printing Cibachromes now (since 98) it’s photoshop.Nothing I do goes out without some tweak or 30 image composit !
Q. What’s your post production workflow?
A. Convert to Adobe DNG,Edit,Rename,keyword,archive Raw’s, then work on the masters,then archive on 2 separate dives at different locations.
Q. Car editorial is under pressure from many directions right now and car advertising budgets are being cut. What are your views on the future of car photography, CGI, video etc?
A You have to embrace it or…. go do something else.
I was one of the first doing the cgi stuff and it’s amazing and no doubt all automotive advertising will go this way.
I still want to shoot and be in control of my work so I look at other outlets for this like my training site,workshops and shooting for my galleries.
Q. Are you shooting any video yet or do you plan to?
A. Yes but only for my training site.
Q. What particular type of car photography you’re engaged in. EG editorial, advertising, motorsport etc
A. Publishing but not strictly editorial.
Advertsing is always my main goal especially with the cgi and this has got me shortlisted for some very big jobs but it’s very competitive.
Q. Photo editors never seem to run with our favourite shots, so here’s your chance. What four portfolio shots do you particularly like, why and how did you shoot them?
A. Here they are
This was making the best of it,we had to shoot 25 cars on a test track over 2 days and it Pi**** down non stop ! so I used the water to my best advantage.
A personal shot of the very cute Toyota Aygo on an early morning in Cheddar Gorge.
Shortly before this my driver was chased down the gorge by a stamped of wild goats…funniest thing I’ve ever seen !!
Another test track but I transformed this one with a bit of Photoshop post production magic! available as a video if you want to see how it was done!
Again what started as a rather bland test track image was transformed with some creative imagination and of course photoshop….love the fact it isn’t perfecly sharp but it creates a lovely sense of exhilaration
We borrowed 3 press cars from BMW to shoot some images for Top Marques.
This is Lorna Doone vally on Exmoor which I planned to usefor this shoot..I love this image because all the planning came together just as I had wanted and we got some fantastic light on a very early morning.
Q. Lots of car photographers aren’t always into cars. Are you a petrol head and what are you driving right now?
A. Love cars and come from a family of car nuts.
While growing up my dad and brother had Porches,Bmw’s,Lotuses,Jags so I was surrounded my nice motors.
I currently drive a E39 BMW 5 Series M Spec 3.0 Diesel ! plenty quick enough and I can get 49mpg (if I drive sensible)
and the 3 kids in it..perfect car great looking too.
Q. Final tip or piece of advice for car photographers?
A. I tell all people who ask my advice on shooting for a living to go out and develop a distinct style for themselves within a niche area.You have to be unique otherwise you have no chance in todays market.
Simon’s portfolio can be found here: www.plantphoto.com
He also runs an excellent website called Pr Photo Insights, giving tutorials and tips on a wide variety of photography subjects.