Interviews with some of the outstanding car photographers in the world and owners of some of the best car photography websites
These series of images called Air Drive Cars by French photographer Renaud Marion are really stunning. A great combination of classic cars, futuristic imagination and contemporary backdrops create some great photography. We asked Renaud more about the Air Drive Cars series.
What inspired you to create Air Drive Cars?
When I was a child, and as many children, I was dreaming that we would have flying cars and i was truly believing that we would get to that. Can be that I’ve watched too many movies like Blade Runner, Back to the future or Star Wars.
Was it a personal project or a commercial shoot?
It’s a personal project, I will start to sell prints in edition limited. I will like to make an exhibition.
Were the cars taken to the location or is the entire image a composition?
First of all, I’ve looked for cars parked on the street as I wanted to use really size cars instead of miniature car model And for the background, I was looking for empty spaces, free of people with the same the light as the car.
Any technical details you are happy to share? Such as equipment used, time taken etc?
I use DSLR with 21mp, and photoshop., I shoot the car and background last summer and Armand Mongallon, fantastic photo retoucher, to superimpose the car into the background and of course modify the car by erasing the wheels.
They’re a great set of images and Renaud sums up our thoughts nicely. “Our dreams of today are the reality of tomorrow.”
Marc Bevan over at MI Images has just gone live with a quick interview we did with him at the end of 2012. Marc’s a car photographer, but not the usual type of car shooter. His entire workflow revolves around getting a perfect shot of just one pose – the driver of a supercar looking like a superstar. That Hero Shot is what makes Marc his living as the owner of an event photography business and it’s the shot that sells and sells for him at supercar driving events across the UK.
There’s no time for artistic blur, ultra slow shutter speeds and multiple strobe setups. His team of photographers have to get the image right in-camera, before it is beamed back as a simple Jpeg to the main truck where it is on display within minutes on multiple viewing screens.
His army of Nikon bodies can often shoot more than 7,000 images per day and the WiFi system serves images to more than 600 drivers, plus their friends and family. His secret weapon? Apart from the industrial strength cameras, a polariser cuts through the steely raked screens of the Ferraris and Lamborghinis to reveal the driver inside, looking like a hero behind the wheel as he drives his dream car for a few miles before returning to his family hatchback to drive back home.
You can read the full interview using the link above, but here’s a few of Marc’s comments
Q. Your cameras must get a hard life. What equipment, cameras and lenses do you shoot with and what sort of durability do you need?
As our work is all out doors, the British weather cant take it’s toll on my photographers and the kit they use. Supercar driving events don’t stop because of some rain, so we have to be able to operate whenever our supercar clients are on track. We have a stock of 10 Nikon camera bodies, ranging from older D2 series cameras up to D3 series, all weatherproofed. All of the equipment is owned and maintained by MI Images as we like to keep in touch with the number of shots each camera is up to.
Q. Why Nikon?
No other reason than once you start on a path and build up a stock of lenses, changing brands can become expensive just for the sake of a few months technical advantage, before your chosen brand brings out their latest camera enhancements. We match the gear to the job and we don’t need massive megapixel resolution. Our work requires to shoot jpeg and to print at no larger than 12×8.
As well as the 10 Nikon bodies we use the Nikon WT2 , WT4 WiFi transmitters to allow us to transmit the shots from photographer back to the sales truck. We use several prime telephoto lenses including several Nikkor 300mm 2.8’s. They are expensive, but we need multiple lenses as we are required to cover multiple events at the same time.
All of the photographs are then sent back to a specially constructed HGV truck. Inside this truck are 10 client viewing screens. The truck is fitted with its own print lab and sales station allowing customers to pick images and send them for print, then pay and collect their order just minutes later. Using this system, we have been able to serve over 600 drivers, plus their friends and families over a single day on track.
We all get a little jaded with our jobs sometimes, so it’s good to watch someone who truly loves his way of life. Hot Rod photographer John Jackson has travelled more than 170,000 miles over four years in his 1964 Convair van, seeking out the great car builders of America. It’s a lovely video, take a look. I like the closing comment by John, “When I’m 80 I p;an on still doing the same thing I’m doing now. I’ll probably die with a camera in my hand”
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
The latest Driving Images interview is with USA based motorsport shooter, Mark Scheuern. If you’re a fan of IndyCar, ALMS or the American historic racing scene, you’ll have seen his work. Here’s what he had to say about shooting cars. (more…)
In the first of a new series of interviews with professionals working in car photography and the industry of illustrating vehicles, Car Photographer catches up with UK based car photographer Tim Andrew about his long career shooting cars, what’s in his bag and what the future holds for car photographers.
How long have you been a photographer and have you always been a car shooter?
“Pretty much the whole of my 25 year career to date, although I started at school doing portraits for friends. I’ve had many forays into other types of photography such as interior design or products but I have always come back to cars.”
What’s in your bag?
“Quite a lot! My main tool is a Nikon D3, but I switch to a D3x or D200 according to the requirements. I own about 20 Nikon lenses from 10.5mm all the way to 500mm, but find myself mostly using the 14-24, 24-70, and 70-300. Then there are 4 Nikon and 4 Metz flashguns and a forest of tripods and suction clamps.”
Favourite gadget or piece of equipment?
“First: the Nikon D3 changed what was achievable more than any other camera I’ve owned so that gets my vote. Second: are my many Pocket Wizard radio flash slaves, as they liberated me from the hell of sync cables. Thirdly my iPhone as it makes the whole business of keeping in touch a pleasure.”
Are you an in-the-camera shooter or do you use post production a lot?
“I’ve grown up shooting in camera, so tend to think that way but am thrilled by the post production possibilities. HDR and spherical images are (currently) impossible without post production. But time limits what it’s practical to do. I’ll try to save my time to hone the killer shots to perfection in Adobe Photoshop and just adjust the rest in Lightroom.”
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?
“Clearly there are pressures from all angles, but creating compulsive content is always going to bring rewards. We may have to adapt significantly to new markets. CGI has taken most of my manufacturers website work away, but I am now set up to shoot CGI spherical images and backplates for that market. These are exciting times and I’m always up for something new.”
Are you shooting any video yet or do you plan to?
“I started a couple of years ago, but find clients reluctant to pay for the extra time, equipment and effort. I enjoy the process but learning all the new skills is time consuming. The arrival of video within DSLR cameras and HD headcams is an exciting development. I like the 16:9 format and have at last stopped wanting to shoot upright footage! The formats and codecs need to settle down though as there are way too many.”
What particular type of car photography you’re engaged in. EG editorial, advertising, motorsport etc
“Mostly editorial, web, and car manufacturers’ brochures, PR, and marketing. I’ve worked for most of the big names in car magazines over the years: Car, Autocar, Performance Car, Classic Cars, Automobile (USA) but have also worked for non-motoring titles.”
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?
“I love “inserting” cars into the landscape. there’s a natural balance and flow to the photo. The colours are a restricted palette too. The composition is not thought about too hard but arrived at by moving around until “comfortable” with it. Having said that I try to make photos work across a double page spread by thinking about the position of the spine or fold of the publication. I’ve left enough buffer around the edges for an art editor to run it full bleed across two pages.”
“I love really wide lenses as they put you right there in the middle of the action. This is a great example of showing a beautifully lit interior but making what could be rather static into an attention grabbing shot. This image is a combination of about three frames, but all shot in action. The idea is to pick the best frame for the whooshy trees , reflection and sun spill, and combine into one. This is editorial though, as manufacturers baulk at the distortion of their products.”
“This is a clean, simple and uncontroversial shot, but it’s restful, peaceful and hints at infinite space. I dislike two dimensional claustrophobic shots. If I talk in terms of experiences rather than photographs, think of getting out of a cable car at the top of a mountain and feeling a sense of release, the surprise of the chilly air, the majesty of the mountains, the unparalleled views: this is what I like to impart to the viewer.”
“Here the car is the star in a pool of stage light. I noticed when setting up for this shot that there was a great shadow when the doors were open. Even the tint of the glass on the floor hints at some magical insect spreading it’s wings. To preserve purity, I used only one big tungsten light shone from up high.”
Lots of car photographers aren’t always into cars. Are you a petrol head and what are you driving right now?
“I drive an ’07 Vauhall Zafira SRi, which is my mobile office, van, and family car. My wife has a yellow Colour Concept MK3 VW Golf GTi, which I borrow a lot! I’m definitely into cars although have never owned the cars I dream about. I’ve driven tons of great cars; for instance, most Porsches including the Carrera GT, Mercedes McLaren SLR, Bugatti EB110, Lamborghini Diablo SV to name a few supercars. This is why I shoot cars 😉 Favourite car: a fast Lotus Elise.”
Final tip or piece of advice for car photographers?
“I really think you have to be into cars to appreciate their character and therefore the way they should be portrayed. Take a shiny object such as a mirror ball or chrome model around with you and look at what happens to the reflections and light on it in all sorts of weather and lighting, you’ll learn a lot!”