2000 Jaguar F-Type Concept
Over the years, I have come to realise just how important photography has been on my career. Car design is a very public art and it’s through photography that most people first saw the cars I created.
Looking back, it was the photographs of my homemade Plaster of Paris car that helped me to get into the Royal College of Art in 1975. And, then, in the early Eighties, when I was working at Jaguar, their significance became more apparent when photographs of the first quarter-scale-models of the XJ41 were used to pitch the car to Leyland’s board – which meant they had to be good representations of the real thing.
PICTURES OF CARS NOT ONLY NEED TO SHOW AND REPRESENT THEM, BUT ALSO TO FLATTER THEM
Because the majority of my work at Jaguar centred around concepts and prototypes, their images became the main conduit for people to judge my creations. I think that was when the importance of photography really hit home. On the whole, though, most people will already know the car in the photograph, so the pictures can be more artistic, especially in magazines such as this. I suppose it’s because I worked with so many photographers over the years, as well as trying it myself – such as my pictures of an XJ220 outside the Whitley studio – that I also see car photography as an art form.
Pictures that are used for PR purposes should not only describe the designs but ideally flatter them. It tookmemany years to understand how to use lighting – because cars are reflective, the shiny surfaces can become lost if they’re not lit properly – and, unfortunately, not everyone is good at it, even professional photographers. We employed a French photographer for the pictures of the XK 180 in 1998, but, in my opinion, they weren’t that good.
I think the best pictures of my work were taken for the F-type Concept that debuted at the Detroit show in 2000. Jaguar’s PR department booked a studio in Pershore, Worcestershire, where the photographers worked almost non-stop for 48 hours to take the photographs that would later be used in the press release. Two of these are seen above, and I think they represent the car really well.
The consequences of quality photography became even more obvious when it was announced that there was to be a production version of the F-type Concept. I believe there were more than 50,000 orders for the car, yet all the customers had on which to base their decisions were the pictures in posters put into virtually all of Jaguar’s dealers around the world. It just goes to show that the value of the image cannot be understated. When photographs representing work I had invested a lot of time and effort into were revealed, they became one more step in the emotional journey of car design.