Behind the Image #14 – Automotive Photography

Cars have always been one of my favourite things to photograph. I don’t really know where my love for cars came from. I guess probably from the fact I used to watch the F1 with my Dad as a child. We also had a friend who would exhibit his classic cars at shows and my Dad and I would head along to see them.

I do love motorsport. I will block out entire weekends just to watch the Formula 1. It’s no problem to stay up through the night to watch practice 3 in the early hours followed by qualifying (although I pay for that for days afterwards while I try and recover my sleep).

And while I love the sporting aspect of cars (you simply cannot beat the thrill of watching vintage sports cars scream around Silverstone, especially the Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel complex), it’s the design that really calls to me these days, just like it does with architecture.

There’s something about a car. It has as much attention paid to it’s aesthetics as a sculpture, but it must also fulfil it’s purpose. That could be off-roading on a Welsh sheep farm, or racing around scenic mountain rally courses – but a car must have function as well as form.

I love all types of transport vehicles. From my long gone 1996 Escort Cabriolet, to the container ships that sail goods across the oceans. I’ve applied twice now to the RAF, in part, because I cannot quite believe how much planes resemble majestic metal birds that soar across our skies.

Celebrating everything that moves on wheels is a fantastic venue not far from where I live. Caffeine and Machine is just twenty minutes up the road from me and it welcomes enthusiasts of cars, bikes, vans, and things that don’t quite fit into any of those categories. They invite everyone, every day, to bring their rides to what was once a country pub and park up in the spacious car park. You’ll struggle to walk ten yards without bumping into someone interesting to talk to, or a machine with a story.

This shot of a Lotus was taken there, at Caffeine and Machine, underneath one of the gorgeous big trees in their grounds. The light was perfect and I just loved the reflections of the tree in the shimmering silver paintwork.

For me it’s the side profile of the car that is the biggest design statement. It’s like the silhouette of an aircraft. It should be instantly identifiable and the most classic profiles with etch themselves on your memory, never to be forgotten.

Photographing the side profile of a car can be a challenge. It looks like it should be simple but it is not. It’s too easy to shoot a boring side profile image of a car. The challenge is in creating something as exciting and dynamic as the vehicle itself.