Cars 2014 - matthew piers robertson • photography writing creative toronto

Car shows are interesting places, even though cars don't particularly interest me.  I have never driven one, and as a downtown pedestrian and occasional cyclist, cars are something of an adversary when it comes to urban space and safety. Still, it's hard to deny the appeal of a good show.

If there's a way to photograph cars at a car show without having them look like they were photographed at a car show, I haven't found it. Instead I was using this year as a way to take car-show photos rather than trying to photograph the cars for themselves.

The show runs for ten days, and I was there for two of them. The first time I used my D800 with its 85mm PC-E shift lens, which is my favourite for product photography, but it's a challenging lens to use hand-held. The second day I was there with my brothers, who 'get' cars in a way that I simply don't, and carried my two Ricoh compact cameras.

But as always, my favourite photos from the car show are of the trappings of the show itself, not of the cars. The "Keep Off" signs are always something I enjoy; the ones placed to protect the exotic cars and hot-rods are in a bolder all-caps font and forget to say 'please'. The manufacturers who want people to buy their products, or at least to aspire to them, are much more polite.

The car show is an interesting mix of products. A very few of the new cars on display could, theoretically, be bought for less than the price of the gear that I can fit in a mid-sized camera bag. Many exceed the typical Canadian annual income, while others are more than large houses.

But of course that is simply their price, not their cost.


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