Recent Work: Mazda

One of the highlights of last year,  I was hired to go photograph at Mazda HQ in Hiroshima. This puts the Japanese automakers I have worked with at 4 total (I have Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi and now Mazda - fingers crossed for Toyota soon!). That aside, I was hired to photograph what I consider the most interesting part of making cars - the stress testing phase. 

The good folks at Redwood BBDO gave me a very solid brief over two and a half days of shooting, and I got to see a bunch of very cool test chambers and the technicians who work there. As I’m quite used to photographing people at work I went down to Hiroshima alone with a big bag of kit - similar to how I shot my artisans book. The first day we were in the brand new wind chamber, which had a bank of high intensity lights to simulate hard sunlight. Made for some great lighting assistance for the portrait, which was a single Profoto B2 through a softlighter. 

The second day was a mix of portrait and auto photography, as we drove out early morning to the Mazda test track. Lots of deliberately crashed cars are picked apart and analyzed for odd chassis warping and the like. I used the Leica SL2 and 90mm Summicron to capture the shots of the Mazda CR5 racing around the track at 180 kilometers per hour, or plowing through a canyon filled with water. 

The last day was a unique treat - I was able to shoot inside the chamber they use to test the cars at extreme low temperature. The temperature in this chamber is lowered to a cool minus 40 degrees, which led me to worry about my gear functioning properly, but the Leica and the lights worked without any issue. Photographing inside there was a bit challenging due to the heavy jacket and gloves, not to mention the cramped conditions, but we got what we needed in the end!

Thank you to the folks at Mazda for being so accommodating to my constant requests to lower/raise their industrial strength lights or drive at high speed around the track multiple times, and again thank you to Redwood BBDO for this amazing opportunity! Looking forward to seeing more facets of the auto manufacturing industry in the future!


Portrait in the wind chamber at Mazda HQ
Portrait of our badass test drive on the day
Water testing zone for the cars at the Mazda test track
Photographing the tech photographing the car so they can check for warping in the extreme cold
Sitting in the car while being driven at 180km/h on the test track was a unique treat
Nice beauty shot of the CR-5 on the rough terrain testing zone
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