Peter Aylward’s motorsports images occupy a space at the intersection of the romantic memories of an age a long time gone and the crystal clarity of modern balanced colour grading and precise framing. His work evokes instant recall of the moments we first experienced these icons, and their pilots, as though he’s found a singular path to our “mind’s eye”, where he’s tinted these modern recreation events such as Goodwood and Silverstone with a patina that is atmospheric and warmly familiar.
// How long have you been creating images and how did you begin?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been interested in drawing and painting. I would always try to make those mediums look photorealistic. The first time I remember using photography as a medium was the 1992 Motor Show. I borrowed my fathers Pentax Asanti. I remember shooting the TWR Le Mans XJ220 at the show then spending weeks drawing the car from the photos.
// You are a photographer, art director and CGI artist. Which discipline came first and how do they compliment or frustrate each other?
I guess the photography although I’ve only started to take it more seriously in recent years. Becoming a CG artist was a progression from striving to create photorealistic paintings. It is essentially just a tool like anything else, of course it’s a lot easier to get a good result now than it was 18 years ago.
// Which photographic artist influenced your style to the greatest degree?
I don’t think a single Photographer has influenced me over any other. There are several photographers who’s work stand out to me but I try not to look at their work when creating my own as I don’t want to be too influenced by what others are doing right now. I look at a lot of vintage photos and film and try to analyse what gives them the evocative nature. A lot of the time it’s the absence of a specific colour that creates a limited palette.
// What shaped the way you see and frame your subjects?
There are two styles I like to shoot. The first is quite graphic, tight crops and lots of clean space around the subject. The second is to get as close to the action as I can, I like the idea that I’m that close but I’m not allowed to be. I try to convey that in my framing.
// Your style is clean, graphic and yet full of nostalgic elements. How did these distinct attributes blend into your vision?
The nostalgia comes from a combination of subject and careful colour grading. I tend to have a rough idea of where I want to take a collection of images before I start but inevitably things evolve. I try to start from scratch in terms of colour grading with each shoot, I don’t want to all my images to look the same. It’s this reason I never use off the shelf filters or presets in my post production.
// You focus is both on sheet metal and personal involvement; your interpretation of vehicles and human details are superb. How do you approach both subjects?
I prefer images that tell a story, freeze time or evoke an emotion. There are many contributing factors to this but being in the middle of the action is the biggest. Most importantly though, these machines were made for a purpose, that purpose is to be used so the interaction between human and machine for me is an important factor that I feel is often a missed opportunity. Human nature dictates that we’re automatically drawn to a person, if we see their face we instinctively try to recognise the subject. If you see their eyes you’ll go straight there, if they’re not looking at the camera the viewer will try to next look at what they’re looking at. It’s an interesting way to think of an image in terms of composition.
If there is no human element I try not to shoot the obvious angles, instead I like to consider the form and capture a detail forcing my viewers to really look at the design. I tend to treat these in a more graphic way leaving plenty of empty space in frame so as not to detract from the machines form. Light plays a big part in the composition of these shots.
While you're here, head on over to PETER AYLWARD PHOTO_ on DRIVETRIBE to view more of Peter's imagery.
INTERVIEW BY RICHARD KELLEY | PHOTOGRAPHY BY PETER AYLWARD
Article originally published on www.blackbird-autojournal.com and featured in Blackbird Automotive Journal Vol. 06 "KINETIC THEORY".
Blackbird Automotive Journal: store.blackbird-autojournal.com
Peter's website: www.peteraylward.co.uk
Peter on Instagram: www.instagram.com/peteraylward