I recently became a member of PCA when Pete Stout, formerly of Excellence, became the new editor. I wanted to see what he would do with the publication. Occasionally, Pete and I have lunch and I knew Pete would do great things as evident in the Panorama April issue by bringing in photographer/writer Zachary Mayne to do a feature article on an Emory built ’67S. I have been a big fan of Zach’s work and this particular Emory build for a long time so for the two to come together…epic!
Zach and I have corresponded in the past so I decided to send him a note to congratulate him on the great work and then inquired if he’d be willing to be a guest – thankfully he obliged! So it is an true honor to feature Zachary Mayne here on Werk Crew. You can see more of his work here.
WERK CREW: Hi Zach. Can you tell us about yourself and your specific interest in automotive photography?
ZACH: Well, I grew up in an artistic household, so I was encouraged to be creative from a young age. My father and mother were artists and musicians. In my teens and early 20’s I worked as an illustrator and graphic designer. I originally wanted to be an automotive designer and attended the Academy of Art College in San Francisco for a short time, where I studied transportation design. Art school was looking pretty expensive, so I then changed career paths and decided to write about and photograph cars, since that seemed to be my primary passion. I knew nothing about the car magazine industry, but it’s worked out OK. The first article I photographed and wrote was a V8-powered MGB Roadster for a British magazine. I’ve been published in over 25 different magazines since then and have photographed hundreds of articles since I started in 2003. I’ve always been a car guy, and have owned Alfas, Triumphs, BMWs, Lancias, etc. I currently have a ’69 911 that is an RS-ish clone. I also recently acquired a Fiat X1/9. I’m a sucker for Italian and German cars. I think my genuine love of cars and car design has a positive impact on my photography.
ZACH: I don’t have a set process that I go through before I shoot a car. If I’m in a new area I haven’t shot in before, I usually scout for interesting locations. Often though, I have to think quick on the shoot to find a good backdrop or location. Some shoots are more successful than others. If I am in an area I have shot in previously, I have locations that I use repeatedly.
WERK CREW: In looking at your work, it’s a beautiful blend of editorial photography with an artistic overtone. Do you find yourself having to hold back on the artistic aspect to meet the editorial expectations?
ZACH: Thanks for the compliment. I actually don’t hold back that much artistically. My main goal is to take photos that are as artistic as possible, but that also represent the subject in an editorial manner, like you pointed out. I find that the art directors usually choose the more conservative photos, rather than the really artsy ones. I’ve taken some great images that were never published. I’m also very critical of my work, and am always striving to take even better and more creative photos.
ZACH: I’m a Nikon guy. I shoot with a D7000, which is actually just a mid-level “pro-sumer” camera. Most shots are taken with an 18-105 lens. I shoot a lot of the details with a fixed 35mm lens, with the aperture set to f1.8 to get a more artistic look. My camera setup is definitely NOT expensive or fancy!
ZACH: I was heavily influenced by Jeff Zwart, before I was even a photographer. Jamie Lipman is probably one of my favorite magazine shooters. That guy is amazing! I also look at a lot of magazines, and can’t even remember all of the photographers who influence me. Evo magazine has some great shooters, and the Brits in general seem to do the best car magazines.
ZACH: I don’t actually take that many photos when I’m not shooting on assignment, but I do use the same gear. That or my cell phone camera.
WERK CREW: For me, my favorite picture from the Panorama article on the ’67S is the rear three-quarter motion shot. It has a great sense of speed but more so the pleasure of seeing the car go down the road. Also, I like how the highlights of the car outline the classic profile of the 911 against the dense trees in the background. What were your thoughts in setting up this particular shot?
ZACH: Yes, I agree that was a good shot. Not a lot of planning went into it. When I do panning shots, I try to achieve a more dynamic image, where it looks like the car is exploding down the road, even though the driver is actually only going around 20-mph. I use a slow shutter speed, anywhere from 1/20th of a second to 1/60th. I shoot from a low angle to get a ground level photo. These types of shots can be very hit or miss, but sometimes you get lucky and get a great image. Some people look at those photos and go “why isn’t the car in focus?” I think they miss the artistic attempt at representing the car.
ZACH: I’m a car enthusiast first and a photographer second, so I really want people to know that I appreciate the subject matter and try very hard to honor it. I also try hard to make each shoot somewhat unique, though I’m not always successful at that.
WERK CREW: Thanks so much for your time Zach! It is fully appreciated and an honor to have you make an appearance on Werk Crew.