Known for their fine art aesthetic, Zurich-based photography duo Scanderbeg Sauer has made a name for themselves by carving out their own niche in the world of modern corporate and industrial photography, 3D, and CGI animation.
Recently commissioned by photo editor Melanie Ziggel for a feature in the new business magazine Triple A, Andreana Scanderbeg and Alexander Sauer visited the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur in Stuttgart, Germany to show how a Porsche 911 gets its special paint job.
Triple A, which is published by the German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung, covers a mix of sophisticated business features as well as national and international stories.
The team had a pre-shoot visit to the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur to share their impressions with the photo editor. A second appointment was made for the actual shoot. While on-site, the team learned how a Porsche 911 gets a fashionable and retro paint color. The tour of the production area gave them a completely new, behind-the-scenes look at the iconic Porsche automobile.
It was fascinating to follow the paintwork process and receive information from Porsche on the individual steps – from the cleaning of the cars bodywork to the painting process (during which handling robots open and close the doors or the engine hood as required), and the final color check.
Since most of their work takes place in chaotic (and sometimes dangerous) industrial environments, Scanderbeg Sauer has learned to work with a small crew and with very little equipment. Their many years of experience in these situations has taught them to communicate almost subliminally with one another – enabling them to work quickly and efficiently.
In the exclusive world of Porsche ownership, there stands an elite group. Thanks to a special program, a Porsche owner can take pride in their vehicle one step further by customizing far beyond the limits of what’s found on the company’s build-and-price schedule. With 160 customizable color options to choose from – if you’ve got the vision, the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur can build it.
Gray, black, and white seem to be the most popular car colors these days, but that wasn’t always the case. In the 1970s, bright orange, green, and blue dominated the streetscape. In recent years, the demand for custom-painted Porsche classics has risen sharply.
With its new options, the Porsche Exclusive Manufaktur has significantly increased capacity in this area. Porsche is now reviving cult-classic colors by adding 160 colors to their “Paint to Sample” palette. The extensive range of colors includes Maritime Blue, Rubystar Red, and Mint Green. These colorful choices from the 1990s enjoy cult status among Porsche fans.
We wondered what color the Porsche 911 to be photographed would be?
The biggest challenge was following “their” Porsche 911 in the production process without having a “second chance” to capture the shots once the process was underway. This made the visit to the paint shop before the shoot and the detailed briefing of the people responsible all the more important. Since the Porsche factory is extremely spacious, moving material and crew from station to station took quite a bit of time.
Getting our 911 temporarily parked in the production line and then re-entered into the process was an incredibly complex operation with many interdependencies. Fortunately, we received extremely professional support on-site.
The second challenge was working with available lighting only. The paint shop is equipped with a light-sensitive fire extinguishing system, which would have triggered an alarm if lighting had been used.
We had precisely defined our locations and shots in advance and took the lighting issue into account from the start. Again, precise planning was the be-all and end-all here.
Until just before the shoot, Scanderbeg Sauer didn’t know what color their Porsche would be. Turns out, it was Mexican blue which is color-coded 336 at Porsche. Used as a solid color that does not have a glossy effect like metallic, this bold and flashy color was offered from 1974 to 1975 as a regular series color for the 911s.
The most important factor of the project was ensuring the Mexican Blue reflected the color tone exactly. While getting a color right in the post is certainly part of their daily business as photographers, in the automotive industry it’s a whole different league. Again, pre-planning was essential for the success of the shoot.
We asked them to send us – as soon as the color of the 911 we were to photograph was known – a very precise specification of that color, which then formed the basis for the post-processing.
The most exciting part of the project for the photographers was the process of individual color design. As car buyers, it’s a matter of course that we decide on a color when we order a new car. But the logistical effort required to reproduce a concept of 160 individual colors in a production process is quite the task. While already having done a lot of work for the automotive industry, this insight gave Scanderbeg Sauer a completely different perspective. It was a great mix between their usual industrial photography, combined with the fascinating work that Porsche offers in its exclusive manufacturing facility.
We were truly amazed when we learned how complex the process really is, what measures are required for quality standards and color matching, and how unique these colors ultimately are.
See more of Scanderbeg Sauer’s images on their Instagram.