I’ve always been an aviation kind of guy. Cars interest me in an aesthetic way, but that’s about it. I’ve done a couple of automotive shoots over the past years and I have really come to enjoy it.

So I was happy when I was contacted by Mercedes AMG Belgium if I would be interested to take some pictures of one of their cars. I’d drive it for a couple of days and take some photos. It sounded interesting to me because they didn’t ask for anything specific. I could do whatever I wanted to do. Also, due to Corona I haven’t been able to shoot anything all summer. So the opportunity to drive a nice car and finally take some photos again sounded good to me!

Eventually I was invited to pick up an A45S 4matic+. A smaller model, but with a buttload of horsepower. I’m used to driving my Huyndai I20 so it was all very exciting to be driving this ‘pocket rocket’.

I had planned out the shoots pretty well. I searched Instagram for example photos and inspiration and I also scouted several locations where I would go during the weekend. I also finally bought a polarization filter. I would still be photoshopping reflections, but definitely less than before.

So on a Friday morning I picked up the car in Brussels and drove it back to Ghent. The ideal moment to get used to the car if it wasn’t for the traffic jam on the entire route! No time to waste so I immediately drove to the first location, a parking garage at the local hospital. I had been to every location before, but depending on the weather and busyness it could be a hit or a miss. This first location was definitely a miss. Who takes pictures on the top floor of a parking garage in the middle of the afternoon when it’s almost 40 degrees (celcius)? I do, apparently… Overexposed parts, dark shadows and a lot of sweat. I still got a couple of half decent photos, but the idea of one solid series per location was already out. I had to edit some of them in black and white in order to make it work, others needed color.

On to the next spot, another parking garage. This time on the ground floor and around 8 o’clock. The light was definitely better but the location was rather limited in possibilities.

I gave it a last try in the parking garage of my own apartment and actually those are my favorite photos of the day. They are dark and moody and the taillights come out perfectly. It was some trial and error, but this first day got me going for the rest of the weekend.

On Saturday I drove to my hometown and took a couple of shots between some hop fields. After that I drove to a parking lot to take some photos of the interior only to find the parking lot closed. So I did the shoot on a backup location, but it didn’t turn out as I had hoped. I never liked shooting the interior, and I didn’t get into it this time neither.

Just before sunset I drove to a small road and parked the car on the road. I stayed there till way after sunset and the results are my favorite series of the weekend. First there was a moonrise followed by a stunning sunset. The blue hour also gave a nice opportunity to shoot the lights in the interior of the car. In the end I really had to crank up the iso and lower my shutterspeed, but I kind of liked the grainy results. The photos came out exactly the way I had imagined them before the shoot.

On Sunday I visited the classic spot where I shot a Jaguar F-Type and a Bentley GT-3R before. I tried to edit more color photos from this spot since I did two black and white series there before.

In the evening I did my last shoot in the harbor of Ghent. I found a couple of cool locations before that looked good at sunset. Unfortunately there was no real sunset. I got good light for about half an hour after which a thin layer of clouds blocked the direct sunlight. In the end I still managed to take a couple of nice photos after sunset with the harbor as a backdrop.

On Monday I returned the car and started editing. I tried to have several series that are diverse in both editing and background and I think I succeeded in that pretty well. Considering it’s the same car in all shot’s, the series are all very different from one another. All shots were edit in Lightroom using some new presets I made (and a couple of old ones). I also used quite a bit of Photoshop to retouch; clearing reflections and unwanted objects.

I was also planning on making a behind the scenes video but I ended up being so focussed on getting the photos that I barely filmed anything.

And the car? It’s a rocket. I never driven any other cars than the usual family car. So I mostly drove on the comfort mode. Even then you can feel the power, but it’s really comfortable to drive. Put it in sport or sport+ to feel the real raw power. I can only image what the race mode would feel like but I didn’t dare to use it… and I was advised not to!

List of gear I use for automotive photography.

Thoughts, comments, questions? Let me know in the comment section below.

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