The camera doesn’t lie, but it does tell a story. Even with today’s advanced digital SLRs, complete with built-in automatic modes, simple-to-use menus, and machine-gun capturing capacity, it’s easy to spot those who know how to get their cameras to really speak. The old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words is probably true, but it helps if those words are at least coherent.
In the automotive world, photographers seek to capture the essence of a moment in motorsports, frame a car’s styling against a contrasting or complimentary background, and basically just make our jaws drop. The toolkit has grown, especially compared to a decade or so ago, but the essentials remain the same. You’ve got to have an eye for this stuff, and you’ve got to have a bit of creative flair.
Here are five of the best automotive photographers in Canada. Check out their work, marvel at what they’ve done, get inspired to do a little shooting of your own, and let us know who some of your favourites are for next time.
If required to sum up Nick Busato, “perfectionist” is the word that springs to mind. A commercial shooter who splits his time between perfectly framed still shots and trying to capture the highly dynamic world of motorsports photography, Busato will usually point out everything he wishes he’d done differently when asked to pick out a favourite shot.
With a background in mechanical engineering, it’s a blend of the artist’s eye and the engineer’s obsession with perfection. Fitting then, that he’s one of Lamborghini’s main photographers, working with a company that blends Italian flair and Germanic precision. However, ask Nick for tips and he’ll tell you that any great photo doesn’t depend on the car: the best shots could have a Honda Civic in place of some supercar and they’d still be compelling.
Like many photographers, the Toronto-based Ste Ho started off shooting as a hobby and moved into professional work. Now a full-time commercial photographer, his portfolio includes work for Lexus, Audi and BMW.
Along with in-motion shots, something he’s been doing since the early days of home-built photography rigs, Ho’s work on fitting his subjects into their surroundings is also impressive, from the Lexus RX 350‘s sharp lines reflected in a hyper-futuristic building to an Italian flag made of Lamborghini Huracans.
Montreal-based Liz Leggett is the queen of capturing hot rod culture in a new age. Pinups and tattoos, pinstriping and patina, from mile-deep paint on a kustom to the rusty flanks of a salt-spattered Bonneville racer.
Her photos capture both the character of these classics, and of the people who build, race and show ’em. She’s also known to do a little welding and hammering herself. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Capturing Vancouver’s supercar and import-heavy scene is no easy task. You’ve got to know your secret shooting spots in the traffic-crammed city, you’ve got to have a few donuts ready to bribe the odd security guard, and you’ve got to be have skills behind the lens.
Marcel Lech is an old hand at all this and more: he’s well connected with those who modify everything from Nissan GT-Rs to Ferrari 488s, and has shot all over BC’s Lower Mainland. An expert at post-processing, he can spend upwards of a half-dozen hours tweaking each pixel until the shot looks exactly right. It’s a combination of guerilla tactics and a high-tech arsenal.
Commercial photographer George Bucur has an Ayrton Senna quote on his personal website: “With regard to performance, commitment, effort, dedication, there is no middle ground. You do something very well or not at all.” Much like everyone’s favourite Brazilian racer, Bucur has a natural mechanical sympathy towards the cars he shoots.
From selective-colour supercars in hangars to tuner machines framed against a background of decay, Bucur seeks to replicate the emotional response he gets from looking through his viewfinder. He’ll also give you glimpse behind the scenes with his Before/After page, which features movable sliders showing just how he’s manipulated the image to get it just right.
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