This is the front cover of the publication that started me photographing cars. Back in 1985, Car Magazine published a softback called simply Car Photo. In it, there were shots by eight Car Magazine photographers that had appeared in the mag and over 130 pages of car photography.
For the first time, the photographer described the shot and how it was done. The shutter / aperture settings, type of film stock (remember Fujichrome?) and any filters used. Full of inspiration, I began shooting anything car related, from cars, quad bikes, rallying, jet skis and waterskiing. In fact, all the stuff I was into doing at that time.
I’ve still got my copy and leafing back through it now, it’s striking how as some things change, others remain the same.
The Crispy Clean Digital Look is Missing
It struck me how clean and crisp modern car photography looks in comparison. Film grain is non-existent today, unless artificially added in post production.
All the shots exhibit some grain, depending upon the film stock used. Comments about Ektachrome, Kodachrome 64 and Ilford B&W and how they affect the final look are all gone now. It’s also striking how sharp digital is in comparison, particularly in areas of continuous tone such as skies. Yet film grain wasn’t always bad, as a stunning early morning shot of a Miura SV reproduced double page has added emotion due to the graininess.
Other things that are different compared to today’s car photography:
Flash Lighting. Very little off camera flash and what there was, is used in a more subtle way. Today, flash is used heavily to light cars, in fact, when no attractive location can be found, it’s sometimes the dominant characteristic.
Rig Shots. Virtually no rig shots at all and those that are there could probably have been done by shooting through the sunroof etc. Probably one of the biggest advances in digital car photography is the development of the car rig shot and the instant review given by digital.
It’s a great read and brought back lots of happy memories, with adverts for the Astra GTE, Peugeot 206GTi and Ford Granada Scorpio…Oh yes. And quite a few cigarette adverts too.
Everyone who enjoys car photography will have something that inspired them to either become a professional photographer or simply become more involved in learning more about the art of photography.
Let us know in the comments below what it was that inspired you to become more passionate