Over many years we have enjoyed working with many great clients across the globe such as McLaren, Lexus, Aston Martin, and Peugeot providing high quality photographic image assets for use in both our clients marketing and advertising campaigns. The photographer behind AmbientLife is Tim Wallace who shares with his clients a real passion for what he produces and who is equally at home both on location and in studio.
Tim operates globally for our clients and partners, he is well known within the industry and has built a solid reputation over the years to deliver a project both on time and on budget effectively. We have years of experience working both directly for manufacturers as well as through agencies and we understand the importance of brand guidelines and making sure that our image assets flow through into the client’s current library seamlessly. Tim is creative with an eye for detail and a passion to create new dynamic work for our client's that matches their brand and marketing requirements.
Tim "Creating great and impactful high-end photography for clients is the end game with me always however I think it's our time served experience within the transport sector that really counts for my clients and the people that I work with. Sure, we can go into studio or on location and shoot images of fantastic cars and vehicles but often the real complex work goes on behind the scenes before we reach that stage to pull all the elements together to allow us those days where we get to shoot those images the way that they are anticipated. This is where I work closely with agencies and clients alike to ensure that we have all the required planning and logistics in place to allow for a smooth and creative shoot. I am always happy to work with production companies and we are always open to client idea's and work to always support those to the best of our abilities. I don't think people commonly realise how much is involved sometimes in just getting to a 'shoot day' and I firmly see it as part of my role working with the client to help them and advise them on this, drawing from my own experience over many years of shooting literally all around the world both on location and in studio. As well as the planning of the actual shoot I ensure that I am totally familiar with the clients branding needs and we also look at the end usage in advance so that we are firmly set to capture a campaign image or a sequence of cohesive image assets that will be correct for what the end client needs to use those for. At the end of the day this is business and I take the responsibility for the photography for a client campaign or such like every seriously, I feel in some ways that attitude plays a major role in the fact that we are always taking on new clients and we retain a very high level the companies that we have undertaken work for over the years. My attitude is firmly that our work should always be an 'asset' to the client and not a 'cost'
Background on our work with Client McLaren and McLaren Special Operations
McLaren Special Operations (MSO) is a bespoke division, dedicated to helping take McLaren ownership to a whole new level. MSO create cars around an owner’s precise tastes, and are able to provide everything from bespoke customisation options through to building ultra-exclusive limited-edition or one-off models.
Their mission is to make what is already special into something truly unique, to create your perfect McLaren.
Commercial photographer Tim Wallace has been working closely with our client McLaren for a number of years to create the stunning photography that is used in their brochures.
The very first project that we worked on with Mclaren was to shoot the accessories brochure for the MSO division. The brief was to complete a comprehensive suite of 54 high-quality beautiful photographic assets to be utilised to create the 2019 McLaren ‘Genuine Accessories Catalogue’ that launched globally in February 2019 to the world. The entire shoot would be based around the McLaren 570S and would need to fully capture the entire range of options that would be available, from the handcrafted carbon through to body modifications, as well as all the interior upgrade options. Once completed the brochure would be available through the global McLaren website and within the ownership portal. McLaren had a very precise requirement for how all the completed images should look and feel, and with new corporate image guidelines in place the photography would need to strictly follow these to allow the suite of images to all tie together when placed within the final brochure. Later Tim went onto to shoot the brochure work for the MSO HDK (High Downforce Kit) and in 2019 we were tasked with shooting the Super Series brochure using two dedicated 720s cars to feature all the product upgrades.
We work very closely with our clients to ensure that we offer the best possible photographic output for their needs with virtually all of our work coming from recommendations from existing clients and through agencies who have worked with us on client projects.
McLaren Super Series Shoot 2020
In 2019 commercial car photographer Tim Wallace worked once again with our client McLaren on what was our third commission for the UK supercar manufacturer.
The brief was to create all the photography for required for our client ‘McLaren’ to be used in the production of their new Super Series Accessory Brochure that would launch globally in late December 2019. The shot list was comprehensive and consisted of both full body shots as well and complex overheads and all the upgrades and optional parts and accessories that were to be offered to McLaren owners. A total of 43 separate and completed images were required, all needing to be consistent with each other in style and feel and all high in quality as the client would be using them in both web form and in print media.
The entire shoot was based around the McLaren 720s and we would be working with 2 specific cars with the 720s Coupe and the 720s Spider, both in different colours. These vehicles would all be fitted with the options and various accessories to allow us to capture everything from the handcrafted carbon through to the smallest of details and modifications as well as covering all the interior work across both cars.
Sample Client Work
Below is a sample workbook demonstrating examples of different modes of photography produced for clients with the automotive sector.
Assisting with the production of large format material for client offices or other environments is another aspect of our work that features innovative design for visual impact, image assets used in a client’s showroom promoting their brand and product. We have also helped many clients with imagery that is specifically for product, accessory or launch brochures as well as at trade and specific industry events.
Tim- "It’s a little too easy to create an ‘acceptable’ image for quick gratification where a little thought and passion can easily make use of the digital medium to create a truly inspirational piece of work through careful thought, exposure, and lighting. A camera does not create a great photograph, the photographer does, 90% of the achievement lays in your imagination of what you want to create.
I shoot mainly on Professional Hasselblad Medium Format Platforms and also with Pro DSLR's which I find are great for my type of work. In studio we mainly use continuous lighting to form and shape with light and create the right atmosphere for our client and the shoot being undertaken. On location I mainly use high end pro strobe lighting equipment, which is very robust and offers me powerful yet consistently correct high quality light in quite literally any environment which is very important when you’ve got a deadline to meet. I tie this equipment together using radio trigger systems as it gives me total flexibility and again is consistent and reliable even under the most demanding of location conditions. Each situation in car photography is different however it's not just the equipment that makes the image, it’s the passion, vision and imagination that is invested into it."
"Professional automotive projects will sometimes involve the requirement for ‘dynamic’ based shots which I achieve either using a professional rig that can be easily deployed for use on most vehicles, or bespoke dynamic virtual rug software, this allows us to get some really dramatic photography that sits well for use in magazines, brochures and other areas of client output. Dynamic motion can be used in very versatile ways to capture elements of the car in motion as well as afford me the ability to be very fluid with my shots and open up possibilities for very unusual and eye-catching photography that holds the viewers' attention, a real must for many of my clients who believe in the power of strong imagery. For more overall car action work we often use chase cars to shoot from, and this is easily set up providing of course all safety measures are in place with safe road or track access.”
Peugeot - Fractal Global Launch Shoot
Location: Peugeot Design Centre, Paris
Photography: Wallace | AmbientLife
Tim - "Peugeot is a great client from my perspective as the design team is very strong indeed and they have great vision for how they want to sculpt the photography around their product and branding. At Peugeot it is very much all about 'emotion' so when they first approached me through their production company it was a very quick fit from a style point of view. Shooting any campaign is a large and involved process and shooting their new concept was something that I was personally very happy to be involved with. As with any type of worldwide campaign its crucial to ensure that everything is planned and worked out well in advance so that during the days of actual shooting the team can concentrate fully on creating and producing the photography that is required. I was very lucky to have Cream Production based in Paris taking control for this shoot, the team there are both dedicated and vastly creative and having such a well organised production house involved can really help to make sure that as a whole the project gets the very best result possible for the client."
"Being out there shooting is where things happen..."
Tim is probably most renowned and best known his commercial car and automotive photography, this is his specialist area within the industry. Cars exist all around us in the modern world and they represent a major part of our lives, the cars that Tim shoots commercially are more often than not are at the higher end of that spectrum based within the modern sports or prestige classic ranges. It is our goal not just to show you what a car looks like but to inspire the viewer to see beyond that and get a real sense of how a car makes you feel, to be quite literally inspired so that drives forward your desire to be within that scene yourself. This is something that photographer Tim Wallace is very passionate about and often his work is shot out on location rather than in a studio, giving you a real sense of not only the car as a personality but also the possibilities of what that car can create emotionally and as a personality in its own right. Each car and each range are different and in creating these images Tim approaches his shoots very much in the same way a photographer would approach a portrait, trying to capture the essence of what is being shot.
Tim - "Lighting is a very personal thing and in truth its simply not possible to copy a lighting set up and get the same result. The way that I approach lighting is very simple, in cases where you will have multiple lights in play it's important to 'light up' to the subject slowly, what I mean is do not over light the car, throwing huge belts of light at it from different directions, a lot of my work I like to look as if it's not been lit at all, subtle so to speak. The best way to do this is to set up each light one at a time, do a test shot and when your happy with the result move onto the next and so on, also consider however that where lights contaminate into each other's area's that meter readings may need to be re-evaluated as light intensity increases in these area's as you would expect. Also people in my view make little use of the best light source that they have, the sun, it's very underrated and if you look back at the time of the great masters you'll note that many used to employ a lighting technique that meant lighting in the same direction as the sun instead of against it as many seem to now. The important thing is not to bury your head in 'how to' books on lighting but simply to get out there and shoot different things and try new setups yourself, this way you will build up what I call a lighting 'Rolodex' in your mind of what works and what doesn't in different situations.
There is no easy answer to lighting, it's simply a piece of the puzzle or indeed a piece of the photographers tool kit that makes his work look different to the next guy, a style, a mood, his technique, it's personal and it's what each photographer must develop for themselves to achieve development as a photographer"
LIFE WITH 261 ASTON MARTINS
Recent Interview Extract with Tim Wallace
It’s 1739Kg of aluminium and carbon fibre: 565bhp, 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds, and it’s Tim Wallace’s job to take the shots that capture that energy, and make the car an object of universal lust. Today he’s shooting it at 2mph.
He’s asking the car to glide, and transmit no camera shake to the camera that hangs off it at the end of a carbon fibre rig. The speed and vibrancy is achieved with slow shutter speeds, with care, by repeatedly adjusting rig fixing points, but tomorrow’s shoot will be quite different. Tomorrow Tim will hang out of the back of a Range Rover on a harness, a steel plate will protect his knuckles from the Tarmac, which rushes a few inches below his camera. It’s fast and it’s immediate.
As a commercial photographer working with luxury cars, Tim might spend one day photographing Jaguar engine parts and the next shooting a classic Shelby as it cuts through the Swiss Alps. He might be shooting the bonnet of a Ferrari, or a newly-restored Bond car, an Aston Martin DB5. He has driven more than 260 Aston Martins for photo shoots, yet six years ago this way of life was barely an idea. Tim was at home, facing redundancy, and looking at what to do next.
Tim found himself in management at Virgin, in charge of a department that was being disbanded. There was a 90-day consultation period and at the end of it: “We shut the door and turned the lights off and I realised that, of 110 people, every single one had a job to go to apart from me. So, I sat down at home and had a good think. It took three days.” Tim wanted to go back to photography, and he was attracted to commercial work. Then came his first break: “People ask me, ‘how the hell did you manage to get Aston Martin as a first client?’”
“It’s not just a case of how I want to shoot cars, I’ve got to think about what will make people want to buy this particular car. What will make the hairs on the back of their neck stand up?”
This part was quite clever. Tim went to see Aston, and rather than show them loads of pictures, he tried to learn about their problems. It turned out that a big part of their income comes from restoring vintage cars, for clients overseas.
“Take the DB5 – there are so few left in the world that if you find one that’s rusted to hell, with chickens living in it, it’s still going to cost you about £100,000 to buy and cost £400,000 to restore.” There were two problems – finding cars to restore, and keeping wealthy customers interested in the restoration work. Aston Martin were using ancient brochure shots for publicity so Tim suggested shooting some really good restored cars as if they were brand new. He also started creating a photographic record of each car restoration so that customers could follow it online. Aston Martin’s cash flow on the projects improved dramatically. Now, Tim works with other top marques and was awarded Motor Industry Photographer of the Year recently.
Of course, you can’t just go to a premium car brand, get a shoot and immediately start taking beautiful photographs in your own style. Tim’s style is grounded in his years working as a photographic printer when he worked in the darkrooms of the Daily Mail Group for the Western Morning News
“It’s all about tone, texture, contrast, and things like that – if you’ve been a printer that’s what you’re into so it’s in your head when you shoot.”
Shooting at test circuits in the company of secret prototypes, and plenty of inherent danger, demands another set of skills. Tim’s seen how this can go badly wrong. During a photography workshop, he met some young photographers keen to have a go at shooting for car magazines. “One of them went out and shot from the back of something like a Nova, on a country lane, with a friend holding the back of his jeans. He fell out, and he’s in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. You can’t be on a public road; it’s not done....”
Tim always anchors himself to three points in the car, he works with pro drivers and uses the strongest possible kit. But he’s just as happy shooting the static stuff: shots that demand an understanding of how to bring out a car’s qualities.
“If I were to shoot an Aston Martin DBS, I’d be thinking, what is a DBS? It’s an aggressive car. It’s like sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. It needs to be shot thrashing its way out of the Alps like it’s coming out of hell. But an Aston Martin DB4 is a pretty car. A DB4 is about going through Milan and through the mountains with your wife who’s wearing a headscarf, and playing Matt Monro.
“To me these cars are personalities. So, it’s not just a case of how I want to shoot cars; I’ve got to think about what will make people want to buy this particular car? What will make the hairs on the back of their neck stand up?”
“Shooting premium cars – yeah, it’s nice,” he says. “I basically shoot cars you don’t need and probably can’t afford but you really want them. It’s my job to create an image that gives you the strong feeling that you want to be part of that life."
We are extremely proud and honoured to officially announce that the Aston Martin Book 'Portfolio Of Dreams' was officially launched this month with Sir Stirling Moss writing the foreword to photographer Tim Wallace's Aston book that journeys through the life and models of Aston Martin from the very first prototype car to the very latest models of today. The book project has been a mammoth piece of work over 4 years between Aston in the UK and Automotive Car and Commercial Transport Photographer Tim Wallace.
It is a wonderful celebration of Aston Martin through their first 100 years and is a major publication of nearly 700 pages of stunning photography from Tim capturing each of their significant models built and created over that time. It includes some very famous cars through the years, race winners, and starts its journey from the very first Bamford Martin car all the way through to the infamous DB5 and onwards to the latest DBS and One77 models of recent years. Printing of the book commenced last month and the first 100 limited editions were recently signed by Tim and quickly sold out. The book is now on general release and is available to purchase through Aston.
Tim - "Being asked to create all the photography for the Aston book was indeed a great honour and it was a project that I worked on for over 4 years. The book primarily a 'coffee table' style book of great photography looking at each of the models through the history of Aston Martin design and endeavour to create cars that instil both passion and soul. It's was a truly massive project and I still remember that initial meeting that I had at Aston when the idea came to light, the task to create a pictorial book of beautiful photography that followed through every model that Aston Martin ever made from the very first prototype Bamford A3, a car that is closely guarded and indeed priceless today, through then to all the variants and models to the cars of today that Aston Martin have become so well known for crafting and producing.
Some of the cars that I have captured for this book such as the Zagato's VEV1 and VEV2 that are very rare and today are in the same condition as the day that they drove out of the factory gates, they are truly amazing cars with such a wonderful rich history.
For me personally it's a joy to shoot these cars and we have been working with Aston in the UK and Europe for just over 10 years now so I am very familiar with both the company and the vehicles themselves which is a major benefit to the project for me personally.
I get asked a lot by people if i drive that cars, the answer is yes I do as I often position them myself into where I need them for the shoot, some cars are indeed easier to drive than others especially some of the pre-war models that have their accelerator switches on the actual starring wheel, not to mention those where the pedal layout is all mixed around... it takes a bit of concentration whilst driving those around as it really is the very last car in the world that you would want to damage, safe to say that my insurance for such things is very significant indeed!
It was in the early part of 2017 that the provisional first layouts where shown to me and indeed having the material to 'fill' almost 700 pages is no easy task aside the layouts themselves but the project progressed and this August the first 2000 books were delivered to Aston where I visited to sign the Limited-Edition copies that sold out virtually straight away after being announced. I think that it’s for to say that I was smiling that day and I guess for me what made it that bit extra special was to have the honour for Sir Stirling Moss write the foreword for my book, a great honour indeed."
The Bamford and Martin A3 is without a doubt one of the most significant Aston Martin cars in the World today and also is the oldest surviving Aston Martin known. Tim spent some time with this amazing car to capture it for the Aston Book. The photography that Tim shot of the Bamford and Martin A3 makes up the very first chapter of the Aston Book, a pictorial celebration of Aston Martin through the years. Bamford and Martin Ltd was incorporated in 1913 to formalise a partnership between Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford. They had been modifying and selling Singer cars from their workshops at 16 Henniker Place, Callow St, Kensington, London. A decision was made to start and build a whole car of their own design and by 1915, the first Aston-Martin, named Coal Scuttle hit the road; more cars weren't built until 1920 but that was due to the Great War getting in the middle of things. Thank goodness they build them a little faster now.
Following Coal Scuttle, three more prototype cars were built including Bunny (no longer in existence) and the green car, below, chassis number A3 which was the third Aston Martin ever built and the oldest in existence. Despite being modified again and again it somehow survived. It is now owned by the Aston Martin Heritage Trust (AMHT) and will undergo a full rebuild back to 1921 specification including the black paint which lead to it having a pet name that would not be considered suitable in this day and age. All of the Works Cars of Bamford and Martin had pet names, something started by Lionel Martin's wife, Kate. This tradition continues to this day as many if not most have pet names for their cars.
Sir Stirling Moss Foreword
Many of you will be aware that Aston Martin have always held a special place in my heart, and I was back behind the wheel of the fantastic DBR1 recently as part of the company’s centenary celebrations. This drive around the Nurburgring once again reminded me of just what a beautiful car it is.
There’s something about making your car not only perform well, but look fantastic too.
I’ve long held the belief that ugly cars don’t win races, no logic to it I know, but maybe it has something to do with attention to detail. The DBR1 was a great example of this, not only one of the nicest cars I’ve ever driven and winner of the World Championship in 1959, but one of the best looking too.
The DBR1 embodies much of what I’ve always loved about British road-racing cars, the incredible engineering, the hand-crafted, traditional workmanship and the exceptional beauty. Indeed, that lovely old racer is the very essence of Aston Martin’s own mantra, Power, Beauty & Soul.
Many books have been written over the years about the history, engineering and racing heritage of Aston Martin, but what I love about this book in particular, is its focus on style, and Aston Martin have always had great style. I remember when Lance Macklin and I drove a factory DB2 in the Daily Express Rally, it certainly attracted a lot of pretty girls all around the UK
I’ve always been a big fan of design & technology and when coupled with style, you know you are going to have a winning formula, and it’s this that has led to Aston Martin becoming such a big part of British heritage. We all know that Aston Martin is one of the world’s most recognisable brands, and the desirability of these stunning cars is well documented, with classic examples in particular achieving an incredible status.
This must be due in no small part to the great attention to detail and simple, beautiful lines afforded to every model. An Aston Martin will always look fantastic, whether parked in the high street or tearing down the back roads.
This fabulous book acknowledges this as never before, and every image has been given the same attention to detail that Aston Martin gave the original cars.
It’s obvious as you flick through the pages, that an awful lot of time and effort has gone into its creation, and the result is a book which I’m sure will take its place among the “must haves” for anyone interested in car photography and not just those with an interest in Aston Martin
Well done Tim Wallace and well done Aston Workshop for having the vision and the tenacity to make this project a reality.
Tim – “Car and indeed any professional automotive vehicle car photography can be quite difficult, for me it’s all about shooting the image to fit the client, that maybe a shot that is powerful and aggressive or indeed one that gives a air of grace and beauty about the car, truck, or any vehicle type. In some ways I view each car as a person that has a personality, and the starting point is to understand what the design and overall purpose of the car is trying to put across, the job in hand then is too work out how best to get this message across. Aston Martin is a very good example of this, the modern Vanquish and DB9 are very sculptured and aggressive in their look compared to say the earlier DB5 and 6 therefore the shoot takes on a whole different feeling and the stage for this type of work maybe very different to that used on a more graceful classic style of car."
In the US Scott Kelby described Tim recently as one of the most influential car photographers in the World today in car photography and Tim was invited back to KelbyOne and worked with their filming and production crews to create several hour-long video tutorials that covered the lighting of cars, the approach and took an in-depth look at how Tim approaches his work. These proved to be a huge success both in the US and Europe and as such Tim returns to KelbyOne in the US on a yearly basis now to add further training course videos to his catalogue area on KelbyOne as one of their featured official training instructors in the World alongside other well-respected names in the industry such as Joe McNally. There are lots of video classes to choose from and browse and all of them are very in-depth and allow you to sit back while Tim walks you through the whole process on each shoot from the very start on location to the final post edit photoshop work. There are also some interviews live at KelbyOne in the US available on video to watch where Tim talks through his approach to business and also a separate interview where Tim talks through what inspires him personally and how his life has affected him and led him the point where he is today.
These are available to view at KelbyOne Training online
Tim - "Our clients are building steadily each year and today we are very fortunate that they include some major corporate companies both in the UK, Europe and US. Like most business’s I’m always looking to tomorrow and the future, new opportunities and potential new clients that we can work with to help carry their branding message forward in a positive with creative photography. Recently we have seen a marked interest in non-automotive clients approaching us to shoot commercial for them, these have included luxury yachts and even airlines with the common driving factor being that they have been attracted by the style of our car photography and the drama that it often portrays and are seeking the same within their industry areas, this is a great challenge for us and I feel very proud that we have such a strong style and feel to our work that these sorts of approaches are made, for me style and indeed our own 'branding' through our photography is the key to successful growth long term with the field of commercial photography."
"Be passionate about your product, be inspired by your customers"
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