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Shutter Speed: 2014 from our photographer’s perspective

30 December 2014

As I am about to open the door on my tenth year behind the camera for Parkside Media, parent company to NZ Performance Car, NZV8, and New Zealand Classic Car magazines, I find myself spending an amount of time reflecting in a nostalgic way about the previous nine years and how they have shaped my career.

It would be very easy to say that I had done my dash in this particular photographic field. These days it isn’t very common for someone to hold onto a job for that long and certainly not one where the variety of work has almost endless scope. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t see it that way. I am still having too much fun and this past year has been one of the most challenging and varied to date.

The following images are a small (very small in fact) selection of my favourites from 2014. Some of them you may have seen in the magazines and some have been rescued from the cutting room floor but what I’m excited about the most is you now get to see them how they were shot.

Peep on this

I’ll start off with an image I’ve been chasing for many years. A proper sit down interview shoot with Terry Bowden from Terry’s Chassis Shoppe. Terry is notoriously elusive and I consider it a great honour that he let me into his shop to shoot both himself and Rod Harvey.

It was a big year for interviews and this one comes from our sit down with hotrod club the Scroungers.

Photographing other photographers makes me way more nervous than it should. But on this occasion I feel I had a valid reason. Murray Cammick has done it all in the field of photography and the magazine industry. I wanted to try and emulate the style he produced in his book Flash Cars. This meant a late-night trip to Queen St and back to basics with my approach. High ISO and walking until we found a bright spotlight built into the pavement.

The next image for me is a haunting one. To fully understand why you probably needed to be there, but to summarize, only a few short moments before this was taken Drew Donovan stepped out of his car after one of the most violent drift crashes I have seen. Thankfully, as pictured, Drew was unhurt, but the image of him walking off into the night was one I will never forget. Having followed drifting on a regular basis as a photographer and as a fan, this for me was a moment of real concern, and it took me a while to snap to and realize it was a shot that I didn’t want to miss.

Forever sideways

Drifting is where I cut my teeth as a paid motorsport photographer and even after nine years I still find it to be both challenging and rewarding. Most importantly though, it is always interesting to shoot. This image of Shayne Giles was taken at round two of D1NZ as the sun began to fade.

Redbull Drift Shifters returned this year bigger and better than ever. It’s hard not to love this event,  and despite the limited access Redbull give to media I was never going to pass up the opportunity to photograph cars and drivers I’ve only seen on the web.

The location and set-up this year was spectacular. It was something else to see these cars ripping holes in downtown Auckland.

Changing techniques

I am lucky enough to have my own photographic studio only a few metres from my desk, and it was used this year more than it has ever been. New Zealand Classic Car magazine shoot nearly all their covers in this space, and this year our design team have pushed me to come up with new ways of using it. This allowed me to experiment with studio lighting in a way that I haven’t since my uni days. This MG TC was shot using only one light placed behind the car on the ground.

Continuing with Classic Car, we have been very lucky to get our hands on a new vehicle every month this year. I love shooting the new stuff as it almost always provides a super-clean finished image.

Despite our studio being painted a bright white hue, the cars are always clear-cut in post production. When the lighting is right and you add a small amount of Photoshop magic, the results can be stunning. Once I had finished this image it reminded me more of a render than a photo.

At the Hop

The annual Beach Hop festival is one that provides an endless amount of photo opportunities. Five days in five different locations; it’s probably the one event that scares me at the thought of it.

This year, with NZV8, we had the opportunity to produce the Beach Hop Annual. While this was a massive undertaking, the entire team banded together and it allowed me to venture into areas of the Hop I had never had the time to do so previously.

It really is just a fun place to be.

Location x3

This year has once again taken me to places that I hadn’t yet been to in this country. Possibly the best place I have ever shot a car is atop Mt Ruapehu.

The simplicity of this next image is why it makes this list. If I can, I will always try and put a car in front of something big. For me it has a calming effect and allows the car to be scaled into an environment and speak for itself.

I’m not a huge fan of driving shots generally, but this one stood out to me for similar reasons to the above image. Simple and clean and still lets the car do the talking.

The Devil and his details

My biggest challenge, I find, is knowing what close-ups to try and get. Overall photos are all well and good but with the knowledge base these days only a click away it becomes challenging for me to try and guess what you guys want to see. It’s also a struggle to combine an artistic photo with one that gives a clear image for the true fanboys of the science.

I am obviously in a privileged position and get to see these cars up close. I don’t take this lightly and I’m always trying to provide images that do the cars justice but also show everything that may be relevant to readers.

Sometimes however it is just an interesting fender shape or swage line that stands out and I can’t pass an opportunity to see how I can make it work.

Over and out

The final image that I want to show is a very simple one. It’s my favourite cover shot from this year but without all the text and other cover stuff that goes on. The car is amazing and the shoot was mega fun.

Compliments of the season to you all!

Drive safe.