Race cars have always represented art to me; it is just convenient that they are fast as hell and tear your ears out in the process. It is part of the reason that I have shot so many car campaigns throughout this career. Each one held some aspect or piece of body work that reminded me of my passion for speed. However, it is a part of my career that I am putting behind me as my true strength is photographing advertising campaigns or people, not machines. Don’t worry though, I have a stockpile of hundreds of cars (many quite famous) that have yet to see the light of day, but will in time.
Today I would like to show a few images from a project that I have been messing around with in my spare time. It was a combination of ideas that collided together over a nice glass of scotch. The idea was, “what if the historical cars of our past were photographed in the future?”
With the presentation of the idea, we began to formulate ideas around truly historic cars being wheeled onto these architecturally futuristic sets and photographed. From there it turned into a light planning session like none other, as we tried to imagine what the future of lights would look like and then what kind of light they would put off. The questions were never ending it seemed…. “was there specular reflectivity?” … “was hue impression felt on the car and was there a cast of it?” … “was there a chance of an ambient glow within the feel of an over diffused large source?” With all tough photography questions, more scotch helps to aid the lucid train of thought (but remember to write it down).
So from there it came down to finding some famous cars that would fit the idea and photograph them accordingly. Fortunately, I had a friend that had some racing legends that fit the bill. So we flew out with camera gear and napkin lighting schematas in hand.
The first car that we photographed was a Ferrari 250 LM. Actually it was not just any Ferrari 250 LM, but it was the actual Le Mans winning 250 LM. It was interesting how the car seems so handmade and this truly separates it from most of the more modern race cars I have photographed as they are often carbon fiber based airplanes that stay on the ground. In a sense, the car seems to represent the days when racing was a gentleman’s sport that drivers took their lives into their hands to participate in.
The next car was a Porsche 917K. I do not know if it is possible to do a piece on racing history without a Porsche in it, so I felt this one was appropriate. We specifically photographed a Gulf Oil sponsored 917 as the colors and pedigree fit what we were going after exactly. It should also be noted that the Gulf Oil 917 was part of an ongoing bet with a friend and fellow racing enthusiast that had given me hell for photographing the Gulf Oil Ford GT40 and not a Porsche (Marcus, you owe me a drink).
The final car from this series is the odd one. It is the Tyrrell P34 6-wheel Formula 1 race car. In its time (the 1970’s) it was confusing, and even seeing it in person I was left to wonder the function, but there was something beautiful about it. Where modern Formula 1 is represented by these streamlined wind tunnel tested pieces of technology, the Tyrrell felt like the F1 equivalent of the Ferrari 250 LM. However, we felt it would be fun to show it in a super modern (even futuristic) wind tunnel as it would be ironic and somehow appropriate.
For some, the idea of placing historic race cars in any scenario other than a race track would be an angering thought. However, for the purpose we set out for (making a couple prints to put up on my wall) it worked. It also serves to remind me of one of my last automotive pieces I shot and the many that came before it. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.