Interview with Automotive Photographer Arun M Nair

In this short interview, professional automotive photographer Arun Nair shares his views and perceptions about photography with us.

Hi Arun, please introduce yourself.

Hello guys, I am Arun M Nair, an automotive enthusiastic, rider and an automotive photographer from Kerala, India. I am working for Evo magazine and crankandpiston.

Arun M Nair
Arun M Nair

How did you get into automotive photography?

My love towards automotive itself is the key factor why I choose this career. I have a degree in animation, and I started learning photography myself for the past one and a half years. After giving lots of thoughts, I decided to be an automotive photographer, because, for me, it is a combination of things i love to do, which is automotive journalism and photography.

mclaren mp4-12c spider

How would you describe your style in this particular genre of photography?

Honestly, I don’t know if I have a style. All I want is to produce good imagery with my limited knowledge in photography.

Tell us the importance of post-production in automotive photography. Please share your basic workflow with us.

Post-production is a factor in automotive photography, but I won’t say it is the main factor. Here, subject itself is a large reflective body, and apart from shooting for advertisements, most of the time I use photoshop to clear all reflections from the body,and for adding visual effects like flares,smoke or fog. I always try to keep up a ratio of 70% photography and the rest 30 % post processing all the time. Sometimes, automotive photographers need to depend upon CGI as per clients’ needs. Usually I play with curves and levels, some high pass filter for sharpening, and color balance to enhance colors. That is my usual workflow

automotive photography of car by Arun M Nair

The lighting in your photographs is dramatic and magical. Can you share some information on your setup?

Happy to hear that. Since I consider myself as a beginner my lighting techniques are in fact very poor, and I am working on it too. I like dramatic perspective and treatments. May be I am watching too much Hollywood movies these days.

Who inspires you in automotive photography, and why?

From Webb bland and Easton chang, Frederic, Richard, Andrew Thompson to late Dhaval Dhairyawan (BBC Topgear India) has inspired me, and why? Because I started drawing when I was 10 from an automotive magazine, which was my foundation of creativity itself, and I believe some of these artists inspired me to do good shots too.

Yamaha R1 by automotive photographer Arun Nair

What equipment do you use now? How much does equipment matter in automotive photography?

I use Canon 5d Mark 2, Canon 70-200mm IS USM f2.8L, Canon 16-35mm f2.8L and Canon 24-70mm f2.8L. It’s not about gears. Actually, we just want to make sure that the gears we use can give the feedback which we need for each shot. So it’s no necessary that we need a full frame or expensive gears. I believe that 50 percent is our creativity, 20 percent is our experience with the gears, another 20 is how we connect all of them for the best output, and the rest 10 percent is always luck. Since automotive photography, for me, is a combination of different styles of photography genre such as lifestyle; landscape; product; fashion and action, we need gears that respond fast as our commands and lighting gears, too. Fast lenses, flashes, smoke machines, car rigs, the more detail we want our images to be, the more gears we need.

maserati granturismo 2013 sport

What is your favorite shot?

Actually, I never got satisfied with any of my shots so far. May be the one I am going to shoot next will be my favourite. I am waiting.

photo of three sports bikes

Could you please share some important automotive photography tips that a beginner should try?

Arun: I have been asked the same question quiet lot of time before. Since we are handling a large reflective subject, choose locations where we can shoot with fewer reflections. Try not to shoot at mid-day since the light is harsh and flat. Find some references about locations, and before shooting, try to do some rendering and make a story board of your frames. However, this is not needed if you are doing motor sport events. Also, get inspirations from movies, games anything which has automotive as subject. Try to recreate the sequence.

Photo of a SUV by automotive photographer arun m nair

How is composition in automotive photography or any other commercial photography different from other genre?

It doesn’t differ from any genre basically. It’s just from my point of view. Sometimes, I follow the rules of third, and sometimes i just break them to try something new. It is all about experimenting with composition all the time. And most of the time, I shoot in basis of rules of third, color theory, and staging for a balanced visual weight throughout out the frame. I am not a fan of tight shots. I feel more comfortable when I give more negative space to the frame.

photo from ducati event at dubai autodrome

How do you decide on the final image? Does it depend on the client you are working with or is it entirely upto you?

So far clients just leave it to me, and so, it’s entirely upto me. But in certain cases, especially working with writers in a magazine, they have a certain theme in their mind. In such situations, we just have some chat, and come to conclusions with the help of references.

Fisker karma photograph for topgear magazine

A professional photographer takes photos for his clients while, an amateur does the same for himself. According to you how different are these two concepts?

From my point of view, the terms amateur and professional don’t have much difference at all. A professional is committed to more errors with his long-term of experiences and record them so that the next time he won’t commit them in result. This helps in a faster and better output. An amateur is the person who is about to start committing errors through his experiments, and the only difference is that an amateur has full freedom in his work to execute them in his wish. A professional, sometimes, has to say yes to some ideas from client even though he knows it isn’t going to be good.

infinity fx 50 photograph

Thank you for giving us this interview. What is your best advice to any aspiring automotive photographer?

If you have that love towards automotive and the talent to execute that love into a form of imagery and you have the beliefs in your skills, just chase your dreams and work hard.

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Vidhu Soman

Hi, I am Vidhu Soman, Editor of Shutterstoppers. I have been doing photography since 2010, and I co-founded shutterstoppers community in 2012. I love photography, writing, travelling, and reading. If you wish to contact me, send a mail using our contact form.

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