The work of Arnaud Taquet might be familiar to most car enthusiasts, his name, however, isn’t. The photographer behind some pretty amazing photoshoots is often featured on official car brochures and marketing materials, latest one being for the launch of the ALPINA B6 Gran Coupe.
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The photoshoot is a true a masterpiece of car photography showcasing the finest craftsmanship known to automotive enthusiasts worldwide.
Taquet is 21 years old and hails from Northern France, a small town near Lille, right next to the Belgian border. His list of automotive clients include McLaren, Seat, Mercedes-Benz, Pagani Automobili, ALPINA and Hyundai.
The following Q&A takes us behind the scenes of a photoshoot with Taquet sharing some car photography tips.
When did you start your photography career?
Depends if you’re referring to professional photography or just as a passion. Professionally, it began when I created my own company called Prestige & SportCars at 17 while I still in high school. Since the driving age in France is 18, I didn’t even have a driver license at the time.
From the moment I started my own company, I knew I wanted to pursue my passion for photography, so after graduating high school, I took a year off to focus on the business. My parents were supportive and allowed me postpone the college plans.
In the beginning, I worked with 3-4 French car magazines and some private owners. This is what really brought me to a level of confidence that I can excel in this field.
What drove you to this line of work?
During my childhood, I used to dream about sports cars. My father loved them also, especially the old timers. But, even if he didn’t really expect me to grow up with cars, he sometimes took me with him to car gatherings and track days, alongside some other events.
My parents definitely helped me a lot when they understood cars were a big part of my life and that I would do my best work around them.
When did the Alpina B6 Gran Coupe work start?
We started somewhere in mid-Novermber 2014 for a car that was about to be shown at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show at the beginning of March. This was a very particular project. It was the first time I had to do homemade CGI (Computer Generated Images) because of a short deadline.
Even though the period from November to March left us plenty of time, there were a few very important details we had to consider for this:
1. I was overseas in New Zealand for another client for a month and 2. The actual car would have been ready only a few weeks before the Geneva Auto Show (because of the brand new parts that had to be sent from BMW to ALPINA in order to complete this car – for example the headlights).
The only way to get the photo set done for Geneva (with accompanying brochures and marketing materials printed) was to utilize CGI. That’s how we decided to shoot the background / backplates in Mallorca in December – definitely not the best month to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and good weather).
The second step for the photoshoot work and completion, was set for the beginning of February where we had to shoot the actual car at a location in Germany. This was done near ALPINA’s headquarters in order not to risk any additional exposure, damage or other issues. We had to make sure everything would be perfect for its world premiere in Geneva in March.
Risky and a first time for me as well.
Also, to make things easier, it snowed heavily when I was in Germany and it was very could outside. Tough job! With the dark exterior color of the car, this made the photoshoot even more challenging.
How do you match the car, its spirit and customer target with a shooting location?
It depends for which client it is. Usually, I can’t really choose the location by myself when it’s for a commercial job. My clients express their wishes, the desired setting and the way they need the vehicle to look in the photos. On the other hand, when I’m lucky and my clients trust me, I will go with a location that fits perfectly with the car and I might have the chance to do something bearing my own input in a lot of aspects for a photoshoot.
For example, I might use central London by night with an Aston Martin. Or, I might use a racetrack for a photoshoot of the McLaren P1 with dark clouds. Or even rain. A Porsche GT3 might be shot in Monaco on a sunny day, it all depends on the client and the way they want the photos to come out. Some allow more input than others.
Sometimes I use unexpected locations: I shot a Radical in the narrow streets of Paris, somewhere where this car feels rather unusual. Or, I might put a Seat Leon 3WD cruising through the waves along a beach, for example. I would also shot a Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG among some icebergs, for an enhanced contrast.
What other settings could the ALPINA B6 fit in?
An ALPINA B6 definitely fits on a stunning windy road or in a front of a luxury hotel. These are the two most renown qualities of ALPINA’s exterior and interior design, as well as its character. ALPINA, in a way, needs to be slower and classier than a BMW M series. Both I and the client agreed on this.
What were the design elements you focused on, or what were you looking for in the car to properly market it?
We focused on the sharp lines of the bonnet, some new parts (eg. the headlights) and of course, the specific ALPINA parts (exhaust system, wheels, front and rear aero additions, logos and other). The most difficult thing with that car was to enhance its moody and sporty character, keeping in mind the car would be sold to a much older customer base, a selection of people who expect elegance, discretion and comfort from their cars. Making a car classy and thrilling at the same time had to be a pin in the neck of the designers, but it was also definitely hard for photographers as well.
What’s the process of a photoshoot? Could you please describe some of the steps involved in creating a commercial photoshoot?
For a photographer, it usually starts with the images rights and a quote. The usage rights can be geographical rights (national, regional or worldwide). Then a time is set for the rights usage: it could be 1, 5 or 10 years. It all depends on the client’s request. After that the usage rights based on media used are set too: there is a difference between images with rights for usage on brochures and prints only, and web usage and what resolution is supplied, but also whether the images will be used for editorial, commercial, marketing, press, advertising, and other medium.
Next we agree on the dates of the photoshoot, handle the location scouting and reintroduce ourselves to the guidelines. We also agree ahead of time on the frames that have do be made – for example, a front quarter shot, details, dynamic shots, etc.
On the actual photoshoot goes, we snap a few dozen images, and then the real work begins.
After we sort out the images and create a file for every frame, we have to make the images look perfect. We send the low-resolution images to the clients for them to choose which frames are the best for their respective use, but also to give us a clear picture on how many images are we working on and how many we need to make ready.
This is when post-processing work starts! After this is (sort of) done, we send the first final versions in order to get the clients’ feedback over those as well. When the client approves them, we incorporate their final feedback and create the images based on that with the corrections and improvements requested. Finally a happy client!
What equipment do you generally use on photoshoots like these?
When I started, I had Nikon gear, but I switched and sold everything for Sony gear:
– Sony A7R + grip
– Zeiss 24-70mm F4
– Zeiss 55mm F1.8 + CPL for each lens
– Zeiss 35mm F2.8 + CPL for each lens
– Remote control and/or iPad ( thanks to the Sony wifi remote control app)
– MacBook Pro
– PrioLite MB500X + diffusor + remote control
– Sony SB900 cobra flash ( for details )
– Manfrotto Tripod
Any advice for our young and aspiring photographs?
Be self-confident but think about listening to your followers and especially clients. Try to surround yourself with people that inspire you and support you, so you can improve your work. Never give up and always think about making better photos than your previous ones.
Any future BMW photoshoots planned?
Actually I have a lot of projects with other brands. However, something you guys might be interested is also in the works. I have a big upcoming shoot with all the most famous ALPINA models to celebrate the brand’s 50th anniversary. There will be ten days of shooting, all done on an empty airfield in Germany to get cool shots of all the cars (more than 20 of them) and cars will be sorted by series (Z, 3, 5, 6, X and other).
Best of luck to you and your career.