When automotive photographer John Early prepares for a shoot, it now could mean one of many things. Wonderful Machine’s Los Angeles-based shooter has more than embraced the various technologies that his field has seen: he was an early pioneer of the “VR” imagery that every auto manufacturer has used on their websites. This enhancement to traditional still photography allows web users to view their potential dream purchase from all angles, even as if they were sitting inside the car.
John says that he “got into VR in the late 1990s when I saw that the only people doing VRs (panoramas or objects) of cars were computer-geek companies that had the technology down, but not the aesthetic eye and lighting skills to make the car look good.”
His early adoption even caught the attention of Apple computers, who feature him on their website (apparently his first Apple computer was an Apple IIe with dual 360K floppy drives). They profile one example where John used 30 cameras to create a VR video.
Recently, with the popularity of CGI (3D imagery), advertising agencies have even hired John as a director of photography and lighting. He doesn’t pick up a camera for these projects but instead guides computer artists to make the images look realistic and well-lit. John says that this process is still very expensive, so traditional photography still has a place in the automotive industry, at least for a while.
Speaking of which, John also has an involved process when he’s shooting on location. He displays a behind-the-scenes video on his website which documents several shoots. In some instances, you’ll see his use of a carbon fiber “boom arm” which extends to fifty feet and is rigged to both the car and the camera. The result gives a more natural appearance of motion than Photoshop can provide for him while maintaining a crisp image of the car:
John Early’s work appears on many automotive websites and in print, and you can see more of his photography and motion photography on his own website. You’ll also notice the same attention to detail displayed in his still-life photography.