I recently had the opportunity to take a one-way trip in the new Mercedes SLC43 AMG from London to Stuttgart and I jumped on it immediately. I had no idea what to expect from the new V6TT engines but was eager to find out what they had to offer. I had never been particularly interested in the SLK/SLC series however, this is the first generation that I really think pulls it off in the looks and performance departments.
My assignment was to photograph the car for social media and online usage and due to the limited notice and timing of the job, I was doing this one alone. First impressions were quite far from my initial expectations, the V6 made a very impressive and somewhat special sound, there was a definite urgency in the way the car accelerated and handled and in general, the car seemed to be a very cohesively rounded car, not too dramatic in any particular department but it ticked a lot of boxes, all in all resulting in a very fun little car.
Sunset in Kent.
The challenge with a job like this is always planning your schedule to be at the right spot at the right time. Utilising the golden hours at dawn and dusk are crucial and a little bit of luck always helps with the uncontrollable variable of weather. I struck it lucky with the latter in England (strangely enough) and managed to grab a few shots in Kent before the sun dropped below the horizon. Good quality ambient light will always return preferable results when you are aiming for a natural feel. I am not a big fan of flashing and compositing, I find the results almost always end up devoid of any soul and character (I wish I discovered this before investing in a full Profoto setup!). With little more than a two-minute tweak of the RAW file this naturally backlit shot above really came to life. I had no time but more importantly no need to flash this.
Another challenge on this kind of job is the lack of crew or assistants, therefor driving/action and car-to-car shots are a no-go. Due to this restriction I prefer to focus on details or small moments which occur with the car located within specific environments. Once again, it really is a case of trial and error and just shooting experimentally can often return preferable results. Beauty shots of the car are often nice to look at but I find shots that I can more closely associate with, for example viewing the car within a familiar environment can be very powerful. It allows you to imagine the car as your own more easily, rather than it being placed on a unattainable pedestal. The shot below is no masterpiece, but when inserted within a series, can transform into a powerful asset to more readily portray a specific idea or concept. The clearly uncontrived (I wouldn't have personally opted for socks and sandals) legs walking in the top corner, coupled with the elevated perspective makes for an interesting end result.
Shooting a car solo is always going to be a challenge, the best you can do is to work with what you have, utilise the moments where a shot presents itself and move quickly when you think something could work. U-turns are your friend, if you catch something out of the corner of your eye, don't hesitate to turn around and snap a shot, it may just end up as the perfect shot you weren't looking for!