Cars

A Conversation With Automotive Photographer Peter Aylward

You might not know the name Peter Aylward, but if you're a car guy, you've probably seen his work. We had a chat with him about his style, motivations, and techniques for getting the perfect shot.

If you remember the ill-fated pitch to host a Formula 1 race on the streets of London, he (and his studio) collaborated with INK on the initial visualization, to help Santander see just how awesome the race would be.

But going back a ways, Pete got started when he was just 12 years old, shooting legendary cars like the Le Mans-spec Jaguar XJ220 with an old Pentax camera, which pretty much got him hooked on motorsports photography for life.

Of course, now that he's all grown up, he has a Canon 5D Mk II, which he uses mostly in natural light because he loves the contrasts...

... and then he adjusts most of his pics to give them the same color grading and tone from the late seventies and eighties film stock: "I feel it helps to set the cars in the era they were made." What it doesn't explain, however, is how teams couldn't find anything better than tennis balls to keep debris out of those gorgeous intake trumpets.

His goal with these photographs is to convey a feeling of nostalgia, and to jog memories of races past.

But ultimately, he's elevating these classic machines to an abstract art form: "I like to get out there and explore different places, shapes, forms, and the ways that light and shadow, especially, describe them."

His biggest love is "happy accidents" — possibly the first time anyone's ever said they love accidents while talking about cars — and the sense of freedom he gets from walking all around a track while shooting.

He also doesn't particularly like this shot of steam rising from the brakes after an aggressive session in the wet, so it's probably safe to assume that he's his own biggest critic.