Seven years ago, Tim Wallace decided he wanted to photograph luxury cars. So, the newly unemployed executive built a business plan and got to work, teaching himself lighting and digital imaging from the ground up. Today, he creates beautiful, emotive images for the most prestigious brands in the industry, including Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
“I basically shoot the prestige car market,” Wallace says, “which, in essence, means my career is based on shooting cars you can’t afford, you don’t really need, but you desire. With very expensive sports cars and luxury cars, you don’t make that purchase based on fuel economy, space and ergonomics. It’s an inspirational, emotional purchase. And an emotional purchase requires a sort of emotional, dramatic image. If you were to look at an advert for something like a Renault people carrier or Toyota, that would be based very much on lifestyle, economy, things like how friendly it is to the environment, and it’s going to be a very different type of picture altogether.
“I get it right for my clients,” Wallace continues, “because I know their brands really well. I know that for Rolls-Royce, for instance, it’s not so much about the car, but about the materials, and the engineering and the quality of workmanship. It’s not a huge amount about the aesthetics of the car. Aston Martin is very much on power; their byword is: ‘Power, Beauty, Soul.’ It’s all about something that’s very inspirational, very emotional, very different.”
Wallace’s goal from the start has been to create images that are as much art as advertising. That, plus his clients’ need for inspirational imagery, has shaped his moody visual style. “Photographers should develop their own unique style,” Wallace says. “It’s absolutely crucial. My stuff is quite harsh, not in a tonality or anything like that, but I do like deep shadows; I like a lot of black space. I give my subjects a lot of space. I did a thing today, actually, the back of an Aston Martin DBS. You’ve got the DBS badge and the quarter light, and it’s a strip of light running down the paintwork, and then it illuminates the massive exhaust tailpipe at the bottom. And yet I’ve allowed about five or six feet on each side of it in total darkness. I’ve allowed it that space, and I’m hoping they don’t crop it too much.”
The seeds were sown for Wallace’s aesthetic during childhood, when he printed photographs for his grandfather. He wasn’t particularly interested in taking pictures, but he enjoyed printing, and he was very good at it. This led a teenage Wallace to land a darkroom job for a London newspaper, which eventually led to photography. It’s the printing, though, that’s still evident in his shadow-rich work today.