When I was at work at Austin Walsh Studio I was tasked to go pick up and load some gear into the studio’s van. Being that it was my second week employed here, it was my first official date with the studio’s van. So I made sure I treated her well, minded my manners, and treated her like a lady.
This van is a ~2002 Eurovan with some 180k+ miles, dents, a cracked windshield, a cassette player, and a heart of gold. A true workhorse and real testament to vehicles with loving drivers that depend and use every single feature with the admiration of every body line and flaw when it comes to the relationships of car and driver. A van that is driven, a van that is used, a van with a name; Helga. The #shootoutloud Volkswagen Eurovan.
As I was handed the keys I drove off to go pick up and load camera equipment for an upcoming shoot. To get the equipment I had to go through some alley ways in downtown Kansas City and realized three things.
One – I really want to shoot a car in this alley.
Two – The light right now is fucking perfect.
Three – I have to shoot, like right now.
And I became extremely bummed out because I had no car to shoot and the lighting was way too perfect to pass up. And then I slapped myself in the face and realized, wait, I’m driving a car. Shooting cars has nothing to do with having super decked out or super expensive cars to shoot, much like photography isn’t about what camera you do or don’t have.
If you want to to go out and do it, you just do it.
So I loaded up the gear as fast as I possibly could, made myself 10 to 15 minutes ahead of schedule, and used that time to have a mini photo session with Helga the Eurovan, and damn, it was definitely something I’m glad I decided not to pass up.
This was my first time in a long while shooting a car during the day on top of not using artificial light of any kind. Just raw and beautiful ambient light. I forgot the wonders and challenges that come in using what’s already in the world and using that existing light intentionally to my advantage. It also reminded me of something.
I need to shoot during the day way more often
I love this look, and probably more than I love the look of light painting. It feels so much more organic, so much more raw, and in some ways feel a lot more intimate to me.
One of the more ridiculous things about Helga the Eurovan is that there are some rules about what you can actually play. Either you play cassette tapes that you find in the van or bring with you, or classic radio stations. That’s about it. And the tapes that you find inside, are pretty ridiculous but it puts in you the levels of what Helga wants you to be raging at.
So here’s to doing automotive photography with pretty average vehicles.
Here’s to ambient light.
Here’s to people who use the cars they own.
Here’s to Helga the Eurovan.