LIFESTYLE - INTERVIEW
Nigel Harniman, Automotive Photographer
LIFESTYLE - INTERVIEW
by Melisa Kaya
Nowadays, many people take photos with their smartphones and share them on social media platforms. However, this certainly does not mean that there are so many photographers around us. Photography is a challenging profession that requires dedication, education, and experience. And perhaps more than anything else, it requires a different perspective and the ability to see what others don't see. Photography has many various fields photographer can prefer. What photographer like to shot determines which way he or she goes. While some photographers specialize in architectural photography, and some of the others immortalize the beautiful moments of happy couples at weddings. Nigel Harniman stepped into the magical world of photography at the age of 15 and founded his own studio in London in 1989. Nigel Harniman's passion for motorbikes has given direction to his career and made him a world-renowned automotive photographer working with famous brands such as Jaguar, Land Rover, and Rolls Royce. I talked with automotive photographer Nigel Harniman about his career and the details of automotive photography.
Nigel, before talking about photography, I would like to learn more about you. When did you get your first camera? Do you remember the first photo that you shot with it?
As a distraction from my motorbike passion, my parents gave me a camera for my 15th birthday – they thought it would be a safer pastime! I then proceeded to take pictures of the motorbike, which of course they believed belonged to a friend…
Could you tell us about yourself? Who is Nigel Harniman?
I am an octane fuelled creative.
How did you decide to pursue a career in photography and establish your own studio? What inspired you?
Automotive is my main passion, in fact, anything with an engine! Having been around cars since a very early age, sheet metal and engines continue to intrigue me, it seems intuitive to shoot something I understand inside and out.
Being a photographer is unique – freedom to see sunrises and sunsets, meeting and shooting varied and interestingly cool people. Such as; Keanu Reeves, Nico Rosberg, Mads Mikkelsen, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Sir Ben Ainsley, to name but a few.
Could you tell us about Harniman Studio and your team?
We are a bunch of like-minded, image-obsessed petrol heads. In essence, we love the challenge of brand building for our clients: brain-storming ideas, filming them, and shooting them. This is mainly, more often than not, content-based/rich media and occasionally traditional billboard or print campaigns.
What kind of services do you offer to your clients?
We offer the full production service, underwritten by passion, commitment, and enthusiasm to deliver the best creative. In the modern world, terms like advertising and stills are becoming less common, we now need to be multidisciplinary creators of content for our clients.
How did your interest in automotive photography begin? What is the most special aspect of automobiles for you?
Meeting car and bike designers and getting inside their heads creatively, has always intrigued me. Seeing their inspirations in my mind’s eye and being able to translate this to the new digital platforms, truly excites me.
How do you find the right and unique concept for the photo of each car? Do you prefer to take a test drive to understand the spirit of the car better?
Storytelling is my passion, imagery is the medium. We work quickly to create an understanding of the manufacturer’s creative team’s premise and aspirations for the car. This builds trust, allowing the magic to unfold! The visual aesthetic is the most important, but I never turn down an opportunity for a test drive; especially if it is something very special!
What are the advantages of being an award-winning photographer?
Awards appear to be more important to others, than to ourselves. However, we do enjoy sharing the images we create for clients across a wider audience, and putting our work into this arena is a way of doing this. Our first AOP (Association of Photographers) award nomination was in 1999, and 20 years later our latest accolades include, International Motor Film Awards 2019 nomination for direction in Best Creative Film category and selection for the Luerzers International Archive Top 200 Best Ad Photographers Worldwide for 2019/2020.
Is it possible for overseas clients to work with you for their projects in their own countries?
Yes, we have shot in locations from Barbuda to Billericay (a small town in Essex!), for manufacturers from around the world. Location shoots are our speciality and flexibility key for our clients, as our projects can range from managing the complete production process with a full team, to just myself on location with the client.
For example, an automotive client requested a global campaign to include locations in Hong Kong, Chicago, Miami, Barcelona, and Rio for a particular car launch. We sourced and permitted exact locations, managed a six week worldwide shoot production and created 21 hero images, incorporating CGI.
Which factors determine the project budget? Which decisions can reduce the costs per photo?
Location, number of shots per day, the blend of stills and motion required… it is a very long list! However, we believe straight-talking, and no-nonsense communication is essential to achieve the best creative for the available budget.
What are your expectations from your clients for a successful collaboration?
Our clients trust us to listen, create and deliver, and the only expectation we have of them is to trust. We can make the rest happen for them.
What advice would you give to photographers who want to pursue a career in automotive photography?
Be authentic, only shoot what you can make a connection with and avoid the race to the bottom based only on price. Do not be a prostitute to the business.
What is your favourite photograph that you have ever taken?
I have narrowed it down to two! My favourite location and studio shots, they are quite different processes and impossible to choose between!
What do you think about social media? How can our readers follow you?
Social media – love it! We embrace it to reflect who we are as photographers and can be found in all the usual places:
My Behance Portfolio: https://www.behance.net/harniman
What is next for you?
More of the same… octane fuelled brand building.
Thank you Nigel for your time.