Using Car Reflections for Unique Abstract Photography

Photography and advertising have gone hand-in-hand for most of their mutual lives, but with the modern proliferation and prominence of social media outlets, companies are having to radically change the way they present themselves to the world. It’s not enough anymore to have a recognizable logo or a catchy jingle; a brand has to be a fully-formed personality, complete with interests, passions, and a Twitter account. The following short film, produced by Toyota Canada, exemplifies this multi-media approach that has started to surge in popularity:

In this video, Toyota aligns themselves with Peter Clark, an architect and photographer from Montreal, Quebec. Through it, you can begin to see the parallels between the automobile and photography industries – they began to develop around the same time, in response to the rapid industrialization of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

They are both dominated by German and, in this case, Japanese design and manufacturing. Even the products are similar; both were created as tough, manually-controlled machines for primarily utilitarian purposes, and have now morphed into sleek, desirable lifestyle products that help us to define ourselves as individuals. This is a lesson not only in photography, and not only in marketing, but in storytelling as a whole. Between Clark’s narration and the carefully chosen imagery that visually likens Toyota’s vehicles to high art and classical architecture, our understanding of their brand becomes much more three-dimensional.

abstract photography

In this video, Clark appears to be using an older Nikon camera (another Japanese brand with a reputation for high-quality, consumer-friendly products). The model is most likely a D80 with an 18-135mm lens. The reflective technique Clark uses is simple to execute, and can be done in almost any weather with almost any lens.

If you’re interested in attempting these types of pictures, I recommend underexposing by a half-stop or so, especially if it’s a sunny day – this will keep your highlights from blowing out and will make the colours pop. Don’t use a polarizing filter, as they are designed to remove reflections entirely. And unless you’re getting paid by Toyota, you should probably frame your shot tight enough that neither your viewer nor a copyright lawyer will recognize the car.

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