Some time ago I attended a Ferrari event at the Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, in honor of Ferrari’s birthday. This particular event was different for me as a photographer and as an automotive enthusiast.
Being honest, I am not the biggest fan of exotic Italian cars. I really do like Ferrari’s and I think they are beautiful machines, but going to an all Ferrari event was actually out of my comfort zone, as a photographer. Almost all of the events and meets I have attended before this event, have been inclusive, having wide varieties of cars and builds. The problem I developed was gravitating towards cars I personally liked. I approached this event with the same mentality, and it did not work.
Why didn’t this work you ask? When you approach a car with the mindset ” I’m going to find what I think is beautiful ” Then you’re not going to find much. It didn’t take me long to realize this, if you could see me then, you would see that I was lost. Let me put it like this, I am a huge fan of skylines and I’ve take pictures of some skylines. When I first approached the 348 Challenge above, I approached it like I was taking a picture of a skyline, thinking it would be no different. It was very different.
The short and sweet of it is, every car has a different personality, therefore you CAN NOT, look at every car the same way. Especially when taking photos. The mentality now is, ” I am going to find what makes this car beautiful “. Please don’t think this all magically came to me at the moment. At the time I was frustrated at the outcome of the photos and spent some time walking around looking at the cars, without snapping a single pic.
When I was comfortable enough to raise the camera again, I found that my favorite part of these Ferrari’s is the detail. Observing the small stylistic choices and design elements is a good way to approach these cars.
For me, something as simple as the exposed headlights of this Daytona, give the car character. A simple feature for some, a defining trait for others. Try imagining the Daytona without the exposed headlights, does it change how you look at the car?
But of course every shot is not going to be a detail shot. What I find attractive about a car can be totally different for the next person. You’ve probably heard this a lot, but cars are a lot like people. They have attitudes and personalities that define them. So when it comes down to taking pictures of cars, it’s a game of patience and understanding. I should also mention that this also involves a lot of experimentation with the camera; whether it’s figuring out which lens is best, how to position yourself, figuring out composition and such.
To summarize, be patient and observant. Give the machine the respect it deserves and it will show you its beauty. The rest is trial and error, mostly error. Also please bear in mind that this philosophy for shooting cars works well when the cars are static. It is difficult to apply this when cars are whizzing past you at the track , that is another story.