29.10.2020

Amy Shore: «I regularly count my lucky stars»

Since the term «emancipation» was introduced the world has not been the same any longer. Women have now got into many fields that were previously considered purely «male». These days cars attract not only men but also beautiful ladies who will be in the spotlight in a series (though rather short) of our interviews. The first guest of our rubric is a British photographer Amy Shore who agreed to have a talk with us both about photography and retro-automobiles. Your warmest welcome!

 

— Amy, good afternoon! We are glad that you’re with us. Let us begin with the following question. Your father used to work with Lotus Team in F1. Did it impact on the fact that you switched between shooting weddings and shooting cars when you became a photographer?

— Good afternoon, thank you for your invitation! As far as my dad’s influence, yes, in a roundabout way over a couple of decades, it did! My dad landed his dream job at Lotus right at the same time that he met my mother. After 2 years, the travelling became too much for him and he missed my mum and I a lot. He quit his job at Lotus and started working for a friend of his in classic car restoration as a painter. It was this small company that ended up building the replica Ferrari P4. 20 years later, the P4 was complete and they wanted photographs taken of it, purely for their own reference of their fine work. Our families have always been friends and that’s when they asked me if I minded taking some photographs for them as they knew I shot weddings with a professional camera!

— Did you have purely «girlish» pastimes when you were a child like playing dolls and stuff? Or were you attracted by the games that boys mostly played?

— I definitely wanted to be accepted by the boys, and very much had the mindset ‘I can do anything you can do!’, whether that was cycling over a jump ramp they had made, or swinging on the swing as high as they would swing. But I definitely still loved dressing up in big dresses! I was always into art and craft as a child and loved rollercoaster rides. I think my job is a good mixture of those things!

— It has been about 4 years since you started doing photography. Did you imagine having such a popularity and success in that short term?

— Officially, I started ‘Amy Shore Photography’ in August 2013, so this year will be 7 years! But since giving up weddings, it has been around 4 years, purely cars. When I started out as a photographer, I had absolutely no idea I would be here today, writing these answers in an interview! (Smiling) I thought I would end up doing photography only as a hobby, I never, in my wildest dreams, thought that I’d be where I am today. I regularly count my lucky stars (laughing).

— Looks like you’ve got many of them! And we might think that they have helped to work for lots of companies and media that major in events for retro-vehicles. But can you remember your first money-based deal for shooting?

— Yes! It was for Petrolicious. They gave me a long list of cars they wanted to feature on the site and asked if I could find anyone who owned one, then take some photos and write a story about it. So I took my dad to a local classic car meet up and we looked for any cars on the list. I didn’t know anything about cars at the time so needed my dad’s help to know what was what! One of the cars was a Series 1 Land Rover and we found one. I asked the owner if he wanted an article and photographs done of his car and he kindly agreed. He and I are still great friends to this day because of that shoot! I was even one of his grooms-maids at his wedding!

— That’s wonderful! Let’s now talk about style. Many photographers have been shaping up their style through years. Say, Remi Dargegen focuses on details whereas Ted Gushue creates colorful, «glossy» shots. But your photos can be regarded as warm and atmospheric. How have you finally come to it?

— I believe that finding your style really is about time. It takes a lot of time to take thousands — hundreds of thousands, even — of photographs and edit them. Each time, you try to figure out how to shoot things better, or a little differently, and the same goes with editing. I started off finding my ‘style’ as a wedding photographer, which I wanted to be warm and romantic, like a dream day when the couple look back at their photographs. If I started to shoot cars from day 1 of my career, I think my style would have ended up a lot different.

— Can you say that your style reflects your character? What are you like and how much of you is there in your photos?

— Absolutely. I believe every artist/creative/maker/photographer has parts of them reflected in their work. Take Ted’s work — it’s colourful, confident and suave, just like him! I’m a very sentimental, romantic and emotional at heart. I love to hear love stories, or tales of adventure! I try to see the world through ‘rose tinted glasses’ as we say here. I want to show the most romantic version of the racing world, the reason we fall in love with cars and the car world.

— And this is what we are thankful to you for! Here is the thing. Many people describe a racing photographer as a male hung with different equipment and having a good understanding of cars. When you started your career, did you have to prove that you are as good as your male colleagues?

— Like I mentioned, when I was a child I wanted to prove to others (and to myself) that I could do everything that the boys could do. I definitely felt this drive when I started as a car photographer. I didn’t have the knowledge about cars (and still don’t) that many other car photographers have, but luckily that doesn’t really matter when it comes down to taking photographs of the cars! I had to prove that I deserved a career as a car photographer, just as much as anyone else, by the work that I produced. I would work incredibly hard on shoot days, and for many, many hours during the week to make sure that I was doing the best I could and producing work I was proud of and felt matched the other photographers I saw.

— In one of the interviews you mentioned that you admire the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson. Do you agree with his statement «Of course, everything comes down to luck» or you think that a good shot is a well-planned shot?

— Yes, I remember! A lot of the photographs I’ve taken which I’m really proud of have always come down to an element of luck. The trick is to try and make yourself as lucky as possible. I try to put myself in positions where I will be lucky. Sometimes I wait for quite a while, watching a situation unfold, before I get a shot I’m really happy with. You get really good at guessing what people are going to do, or learning the sequence of things to know what’s going to happen next. At a lot of shoots and especially events, you can’t plan anything, things just happen. But I do try and plan things a little — I love the after-sunset light at dusk, where you can still see some light but cars have their headlights switched on, people become gently lit and everything is more atmospheric. I plan to make sure I’m ready to shoot at that point where I can.

— You are the Ambassador of Nikon in Great Britain, as far as we know. Could you tell us a little more about this collaboration?

— In 2017, Nikon emailed me to say that I had been on their radar for a while and they wanted to have a meeting with me. I was so nervous when I went to that meeting!! At the time, I became their youngest ever UK ambassador. I have only ever shot with Nikons so the collaboration made complete sense — I will always continue to shoot with Nikon. Cameras each have their own style and I think if I moved to another brand, my work would change too, and that’s not something I want (at least not yet!). Being an ambassador also opened up many opportunities to me, like doing workshops and talks in front of hundreds of people! That was scary!

— But with time you have certainly got used to this publicity because there are two F1 teams on your clients list – Ferrari and Renault. What did you feel when they contacted you about the shooting sessions? And was it difficult to work with drivers who have got used to the interest from the media?

— My first call from Ferrari was the scariest. I had worked with them on smaller scale shoots before but when they said they wanted me to shoot Vettel and Leclerc together, I knew it would be one of the biggest shoots of my career. The night before the shoot, I tried to find out online what each of their interests were — especially Vettel as I worried he might have less patience for photographs. I learnt that we had two loves in common: The Beatles and classic motorcycles. So, the next day, the moment we met, I asked him to drive me up and down the road, just him and I, for some shots. The first thing I said to him was ‘We both love The Beatles and classic motorcycles!’ And he then said ‘You like classic motorbikes?!’ — from that point, we just talked about motorcycles and he was a pleasure to photograph. That’s what I try to do on every shoot — get my subject talking about something they love. This experience made the Renault shoot easier but I still used the same technique!

— Yes, it’s true that photographers have to make up their own methods. Tell us, please, about your vintage 1985 Mini. Did you think to change your camera for the steering wheel and take part in a rally onboard your car?

— Oh, my Mini! Yes, I named it Mayo (because it’s the colour of mayonnaise!) when I bought it at the age of 19. It has carried me thousands of miles across the UK but yes, I would absolutely love to take him on a long rally across Europe or beyond! I am at my happiest when I’m driving him. At the moment, he’s just had a full engine rebuild by the incredible Crafted Classics Tuning and I’m now waiting to pick him back up again once the lockdown has been lifted!

— Talking about rallies, you have once said that you are dreaming of going to the «Mille Miglia» someday. Do you see it as a chance to touch a piece of history or to test your stamina?

— I was invited to go this year but sadly due to Covid-19, that’s been postponed! I would love to take part due to its history, but also because I’ve never done a timed rally before and what better rally to start with than one of the most famous in the world and history of racing?! It would be one of those once in a lifetime experiences.

— Let’s go back to your career. Besides shooting in Great Britain, you often shoot different events in other countries. Does it require a different approach to the process or the geographical position does not influence it in any way?

— The geography doesn’t alter the shoot much, but the clients I work for, or the people around the shoot can have a bigger effect. For example, American clients often want a much cleaner outcome from the images, a little more commercial. Whereas other European clients are happier with a more laid back style, which I prefer. I sometimes find it more difficult to photograph people who don’t speak English as I can’t explain to them why I was compelled to take their photograph and if they are okay with that! I might not take a photograph of someone if I feel I can’t explain why — “You look great in that sunlight!” Or, “I love what you’re wearing, it matches the car!”.

— Recently you have added to the Stories on Instagram a video where you are making car models. Whose idea was that?

— Ha, yes! The models have come from a book that my partner, Craig, received as a Christmas present from his Mum! Once the UK went into lockdown, we didn’t just want to watch TV in the evenings and started to work through the book of models. It was our way of experiencing cars without having to leave the house! It’s been such fun so far, but I’m not sure what we will do when we have finished them all as some of them are quite terrible replicas!!

— How do spend your time while on quarantine, of course, besides model-making?

— Doing this job for the last 6.5 years has led me to gain quite a bit of weight! I have to eat at restaurants a lot, or at airports, or have wine with clients and friends, or stress eat! So I’ve been using this time to focus on my physical (and mental) health. I’m working out 6 days a week and during the lockdown, I’ve lost 5kg already! I’m also an enthusiastic but terrible baker, so I’ve been baking sweet treats (non of them look pretty!) And feeding them to Craig!! We have also been working on the cars and motorcycles, making sure they are all looked after whilst standing still.

— Oh, you have a very tight schedule, let me tell you… Jokes apart, what is going on now over the globe has had it impact on many things around us. Can you tell us in what way it has influenced your life?

— It has influenced my life massively. I’m used to shooting 3-4 times a week, editing in the evenings or in transit, spending a lot of time away from home. It’s been a very welcome relief, not having to do all of that but being able to relax and spend time at home. But it has certainly made me realise I need to work on looking after myself a little more, both physically and mentally. It can be a very stressful job at times, and especially being freelance, I’m always a little concerned about my calendar being empty! But this has taught me that I can survive on less work, and it’s good to stop once in a while. Although, I do miss seeing the world and having all of the amazing experiences I’m used to!

— And a traditional question that we pose to all our guests from overseas. What is your attitude to Russia? Have you ever been here and if not, are willing to pay a visit to our country?

— I would love to go to Russia. I have no idea what the car culture is like, but I imagine the people to be incredibly interesting to photograph and to spend time with! I hope I’d leave the country with a better understanding and appreciation for vodka, too!

Photo: Amy Shore (amyshorephotography.com, instagram.com/amyshorephotography, facebook.com/amysplat)

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