(Andy Noggle with his girlfriend / assistant Taylor at Dyno Day 2011)
The relationships we have with our cars are permeated by photos of all kinds. It all starts with a photo. It might be a glossy, Photoshopped dealer brochure. Or maybe a grainy camera phone pic on Craig's List. Sometimes it's love at first sight. Sometimes we see past the picture and see deeper potential.
At the other end of the relationship, we hope our pics attract a great new suitor who will baby our cars as well as we did. In more tragic endings, we document total losses for Allstate, snapping shots of irreversible damage to a once perfect frame.
Somewhere between these book ends, we take pictures that represent our best moments with our cars. They happen at gas stations, on long interstate trips, under the harsh fluorescent lights of parking structures, at crowded meets, on the track and back home in the garage.
These best moments are the ones Andy Noggle zeroes in on. He has turned his passion for automotive photography into a professional trade, shooting up numerous events and auto meets along the way. We were able to pick his brain about how he got his start, his photos, and a few tips.
How did you get started with photography? Did you immediately gravitate to cars, or did you go through an embarrassing phase where you took hundreds of pictures of your feet?
Every time we took a family trip when I was younger, I always had the camera, I always loved making photographs, I don’t remember taking pictures of feet though. In high school, I learned just enough to be dangerous with a camera, and have excelled since, continuing on to an Associates Degree in Photography. I have always loved cars, and grew up around them, and they say you should do what you love, and I love cars. Cars were also very easy to access for photos, I could be driving along and see a great background and snap a photo of my car in front of it. Or say…”Hey, I want to try some photography things, can I borrow your car?” But I do also shoot other things besides cars. I also love doing product photography as well as architectural shots.
Do you have a specific niche?
I have no preference in car, old school muscle, or new school imports, or vice versa, I appreciate all types of cars as long as the owner has a passion for it, and enjoys the automotive culture in some way.
I take a photojournalistic approach to each car, and cover all of the things that make it what it is and what the owner did to it. So it depends on the vehicle. If it has a completely custom interior, I would focus on that, and do detailed shots of the stitching, seats, sub boxes, door panels, and headliner. But if it’s all go-fast parts, and little interior work, there would be more detailed shots of the engine, turbo/supercharger, gauges, exhaust, wheels/tires, etc. If I had to pick shots that I specialize in, it would be rolling/rig shots and detail shots.
Are there any current trends in automotive photography that you like? Any photographers you admire?
I’ve always been a fan of QuickWorks Photo, great automotive stuff coming out of there.
Are there any photography trends that you think should die?
HDR, or black/white/selective color. They can be appreciated in some cases, but in most, it’s just something you have seen over and over again!
Are there any myths or misconceptions about what makes for a good photo?
“Things look better with a fisheye”…I hate when I see photos like this. They are ok in certain instances with the proper equipment, but when somebody just adds a vignette to every photo or uses one of those cheap eBay “wide angle” devices on their lens, they just look terrible, but yet, every car show, when the pictures show up online, at least a few people have done that to their images…
Do you have any advice for mere mortals who want to take a good "show off" pic of their car?
Nail your exposure and focus. Countless times when I scroll through websites and forums and see photos by “___________ Photography” -- all I see are images that are poorly focused, and poorly exposed... and still, people think they are well done. I just don’t understand. Shoot Aperture Priority if you have to, don’t use Manual if you don't know how to expose your images.
What's your advice for picking a good location for an outdoor shoot?
Backgrounds with leading lines, or a contrasting color to the car/wheel color usually work well. Use a color wheel to pick backgrounds.
Do you have a "dream shoot"? What car, location, time of day, etc.?
Hmmm, I’m not sure; I wouldn’t like to call it quits with just one car or setup. I would rather shoot lots of cars and experience all sorts of vehicles rather than just one.
What kinds of shoots do you do?
The most popular thing I do are rolling rig shots, people love them, and I love doing them. But I do everything from full magazine shoots, multiple locations, interior, exterior, night, day, rolling, all the way to shots of stickers, or single car parts for promotional purposes with companies.
Is there any car, event or situation you won't shoot?
I’m up for the challenge, but I do not like indoor car shows very much because the lighting is not up to par at most locations for proper photos.
Can you share what your typical equipment and setup look like?
I have used a Nikon D80 for a number of years, not really looking to upgrade yet, because I don’t think the camera makes the photographer. Also, I have a full array of lighting equipment, lenses, and grip equipment for any situation. The most important piece of equipment is in the next question: my gear hauler.
What cars have you owned, and what do you drive now?
I’m not quite old enough to have a collection of cars yet, but my first car was a 2000 Mercury Cougar, I4, 5-Speed, I turned it into a stripped interior, race seat/harness, autocross/track car. During that time my winter car was a 1999 Subaru Legacy Sport Utility Sedan 30th Anniversary Edition. I have to say the whole name because it is ridiculously long. But that had a run in with an older driver, and is no longer with us. As of now, I have a 2006 WRX Wagon, which is my camera gear hauler and all around awesome wagon.
(Andy's current ride)
What's the favorite shot that you took at King's Dyno Day 2011?
I had a lot of favorites, but I would have to say this one was my favorite:
How did you get connected with King Motorsports?
My friend Connor was talking to Scott [King's CEO] about detailing some cars, and somehow the topic came up about my photography, and a few emails later, I was on board to shoot their next event.
(Andy's work is everywhere, including this pic that was printed in the 2011 issue of Honda Tuning magazine)