Hi Amy, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. We’ll get started by asking what got you interested in cars, and how did you come to be interested in photographing them?
I first got into cars because of my dad. He used to work for Lotus F1 and so my brother and I were always around cars and bikes. The real interest for me has come mainly after becoming a car photographer! I’m especially interested in the people behind the cars more than the machines themselves. I love the lifestyle of the automotive world – people want to see the world, drive the country roads, ride the mountain passes – the automotive world is adventurous and full of a great variation of people. Friends of mine had built a Ferrari P4 replica they wanted photographing and in the same month, I took my dad to visit the Goodwood Revival. Some publications picked up on the P4 images and began hiring me, Goodwood picked up on their images and did the same and everything simply snowballed from there!
What gear do you need have with you when you’re setting out to photograph some cars?
I absolutely, definitely have to have with me (not including my cameras) my Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens and my HoldFast harness. The lens is simply the best lens I’ve ever bought and hands down my ‘if there was a zombie apocalypse’ item. The HoldFast harness is my savour for using two cameras at the same time. I have my 35mm on my right hip and my 85mm on my left for 90% of the time. When shooting documentary style, you’ve got to be on the ball all the time and watching everything around you and the ability to use two cameras with absolute ease is a life saver. Also for travelling a lot, I adore my Lowepro ProTactic 450 bag which holds all of my gear, my laptop, chargers and even a spare change of clothes and toothbrush.
If you didn’t know you were going to come across a car you wanted to photograph, what would we find in your everyday carry?
Honestly? My whole gear! I have such a small set up that I carry everything with me all the time. Two bodies, 4 lenses and my HoldFast. That’s it. No lights, no flash, no reflectors, just the raw basics. I’m inspired by the likes of Sebastião Salgado and Henri Cartier-Bresson who, I’m pretty sure, didn’t have much else other than the basics!
What are you currently driving? We see from your Instagram account that you recently passed your motorcycle test – do you still prefer four wheels over two wheels?
Aha… A Ford Fiesta. I’ve just said goodbye to my pride and joy, Ford Puma as it was getting a little too old to take me the tens of thousands of miles I drive every year. I still have my Austin Mini which I drive when I can! I’ve been out on my ’72 Honda 350F a number of times since passing my test but I think I do prefer four wheels at the moment, but perhaps that’s the chilly weather causing me to be biased! Ask me next summer!
How do you find the advancements of digital photography changing the way you work? Do you use photo filters on Instagram for example, or do you digitally touch up your photos after you’ve taken them?
With any tech, you can have the latest or most expensive camera but that still doesn’t make the images great. Amazing quality, yes, but not great. Flipping that, the rise of iPhone photographers has been really awesome to see and I follow a number of photographers from both ends of the scale that inspire me. It’s amazing how quickly we can now create images with such diversity from one another and I’m incredibly interested to see where the future of photography takes us. I do a basic edit of my raw images in Photoshop after I’ve shot them and depending on the image, touch up any blemishes I want out but even that is rare, only things like ugly road signs. I only use iPhone filters on the images I take on my iPhone and post.
How do you think you’d change the way you’d take photographs if you were using a film camera?
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I admire those that still use film. I would certainly have to choose my shot more! Often, I’ll take 3 or 4 shots of the same moment, just to get it right. On my website, I’ll often post these photographs next to one another to give the viewer a better sense of the moment, like a two frame video.
Is there one photoshoot you would like to do again? Maybe one from when you were first starting out that you’d like to try again with all the experience you’ve learnt over time?
There are shoots I’d like to do again for the fun of them (like my Pitts Special shoot!) but not to reproduce the images with my new experience. I look back at shoots like my first car shoot of the P4 and I know I can do better now, but that doesn’t really bother me as it’s confidence boosting to see how I’ve improved. The shoots have some fantastic memories too, which I’d never be able to recreate again. Sometimes it’s the experience that make the shoot and in the end, the images. With the P4, it was a gorgeous September day. I was hanging out with friends and my dad, we ate fish and chips from the local chip shop, there was no stress – it was just perfect.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Is there someone who does car photography that you admire?
As I mentioned, I adore the works of Sebastião Salgado and Henri Cartier-Bresson but it was probably Laurent Nivalle’s automotive work that made me realise that shooting cars could be fun. I remember seeing one of his Le Mans series and thinking ‘Okay, that looks seriously cool’. But I find I’m inspired by a lot of film makers too like Wes Anderson, Quintin Tarantino and Robert Yeoman.
What is it that you love about vintage cars that makes you want to capture them in your photography?
In comparison to newer cars, vintage cars have a certain element of life to them, an element of elegance and class. You see a LaFerrari whizz down the street and you think, ‘I bet that’s fun!’. But you see a Ferrari 250 GTO roll in and it’s like your breath gets caught for a moment, the pure beauty of it. I think vintage cars hold a hell of a lot more character and personality than modern cars.
Your photographs are fantastic – and they feature some amazing vintage cars – but, if you were to completely change it up for one day, is there an outrageously modern car that you would like to do a photo shoot with?
Haha, after my last answer, this is a tough one! It sounds daft, but a dream modern car of mine to shoot would be a Model 3 Tesla, but I’d have to have Elon Musk in the shoot too. I truly admire Musk and his work, it takes one slightly crazy dude who wants to really push the boundaries of our comfort zones to change the world and I think he’s kickstarted that. I am in awe of his confidence and stamina towards his work so again, it’s not about the car, but the story and the person behind the car.
To date, what photograph – or whole photo shoot – are you most proud of?
This is a tough one. Sometimes I’m really proud of a shoot and then go off it a year later. Sometimes, vice versa. I’d have to choose two! One road trip shoot and one car profiling shoot. My Italian road trip for Mazda’s Zoom Zoom magazine was just amazing. Great people, great country, great cars. I really, really enjoyed that shoot. Otherwise the Jaguar XK140 Zagato I shot for Classic Driver at an old railway station. We just rocked up to this station and asked if they minded us driving the car up onto the platform to shoot. They guys there were really helpful and fab characters and the images just all felt right.
You probably get asked a lot what wedding photography taught you that makes your car photography better, but is there anything car photography has taught you about taking wedding photos?
Yes; stop photographing weddings! Cars are much more fun! I’m packing in the weddings after this year as cars are far more fun and often less stressful. But it’s also seriously helped me direct models on car shoots, which can be difficult when things are staged and not constantly moving.
You did a roadtrip in Scotland in your Mini – what would be your perfect roadtrip?
That was it. Honestly! I want to relive that exact week all over again. It was just me, my car and my cameras with breathtaking scenery. Coming in at a close second perfect road trip would be driving over Norway’s Atlantic Road, experiencing the Northern Lights, sleeping under the stars in something like a Defender. It’s a country I’ve not yet visited but would absolutely love to.
If you can offer one piece of advice to all budding car photographers out there, what would it be?
Don’t think that there’s a ‘right’ way to do anything. Push the boundaries. Try something new. Car photography has the potential to be so diverse and exciting so take full advantage of that!
Thank you for your time!
A massive thanks to Amy for joining us for this interview. You can find Amy on Instagram and the Amy Shore Photography website.
Know someone you’d like us to interview? Let us know in the comments below.