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How a $3.6 Million Supercar was Photographed in Under an Hour

Some great photographers are lucky enough to have a rare opportunity to photograph ultra-rare and exclusive cars, but usually you have to work under tight restrictions or are often thrown an obstacle or two. Car photographer Pepper Yandell's recent photo shoot with a rare super car worth nearly $4 million was no exception. See how he shot incredible images in less than an hour and learn from the helpful tips he shares.

According to Pepper:

I've always wanted to see a Bugatti up close and personal, but I always seemed to just miss one whenever it was around. My first opportunity to achieve this desire was better than I could've ever expected! I was contacted by Park Place Bugatti in Dallas, TX, informing me that they had one of the rarest editions of the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport's being delivered: the Rembrandt edition. There's only 3 of these made and each one sold for $3.67 million.
Going into this shoot I had about a week for pre-production, a lot of time to search around for inspiration and develop some concepts for the shots I planned on getting. Unfortunately due to the severe time restrictions from the delivery delay a lot of these plans became impossible. This car was being delivered to it's new owner here in Dallas, and was on a tight schedule. The shoot was scheduled for the day the car was actually being delivered, but the client had set aside 4-5 hours for production [the actual photoshoot]. Unfortunately, due to an error in delivery, this time got cut all the way down to 60 minutes. This put us in a very tight spot to get everything required, but thanks to my crew we made it happen.

You have to always be ready and able to adapt to the situation at hand, things don't always go as planned! Take it all in stride and be confident in your ability to produce awesome images despite whatever obstacles arise.

The Profoto B1 system also made this rush of a shoot much more possible, it would've been a nightmare having to deal with power cords and power packs everywhere. If you're on location or in a pinch on getting a shot with a lot of limitations on time or available power, the B1's are a godsend.



This car provided some unique challenges when it came to lighting. The top portion of the car is brown carbon fiber, my first time ever shooting a brown carbon fiber car, not surprisingly. Every car reacts to light differently, and this one was a perfect example. I went in with 3 Profoto B1s and a couple long stripbox modifiers, my favorite modifier for cars. Reasoning for this being the long thing source of soft light provides a nice highlight line along the body of the car. It did this just as planned, but I quickly discovered that when shooting with the softbox the carbon did not even barely reveal itself, it instead came out looking just like a black car.


To get the carbon fiber texture to show I had to take the softbox off and shoot just a bare light directly into the paint at a close range. This let the light start to reflect off the carbon, revealing a nice texture on a small portion of the car. I did this all around the body of the car, and then combined the stripbox lighting with this to arrive at the final result via compositing in Photoshop.

With every car comes more experience and lessons, don't get frustrated when things don't work as planned - view it as an opportunity to improve your work!

Hope you enjoy the photos we produced, also please take a minute to scope out my website and/or follow me on Facebook.
I'd like to thank my crew:
Tom Christensen // Key Grip + Lighting
Joel Chan // Personal Camera Assistant
Greg Royar // Videographer
Jay Coop // Grip
Behind the scenes photos by Joel Chan (http://www.facebook.com/photoswithjoel)
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Douglas Sonders's picture

Commercial Photographer (mainly Phase One medium format digital) and filmmaker based out of NYC. Started a site called Notabully.org to spread stories about well-behaved and positive pitbulls. Love cars, 80s movies, dogs, and adventure. Free time is spent traveling, sleeping, adventuring, or working on my baby, a 1969 Mustang Mach 1.

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Amazing that a car can be that expensive...great shoot, would love to see more on the edit.

Th e car itself isn't worth the full 3.6M. The rarety of it makes the biggest chuck ofn the price most certainly. Actually, it's pretty cheap if you consider there is only 3 of them....

And, they are hand built in a machine shop.

"Machine shop" is quite an euphemism.. I'm sure it looks better than most homes!

Thanks for the info, I gotta get out more ;)

They are only "worth" that much - because Bugatti hired an awesome marketing guy, that convinced them to take the 40 cars they have had unsold (and unpainted until they are sold) for over a year (at just over $2 million a piece) - and paint them in special edition colors and then whack an extra $1.5 mil onto the price......

Some people have more money than sense. A Veyron isn't really that rare in the scheme of things - 450 of the various models have been built.

IIRC Bugatti loses money on the Veyron.

Of course you're not a bad car photographer yourself Doug, and thanks for sharing this. Speaking of sharing, if that Bug's "worth nearly $4 million", can I have the change? ;-)

hey thanks!

It was tough work. But the bar on car photography is quite high. I didn't go 'wow' here... Sorry.

Shooting a car in under 60 minutes is no easy feat. That and the fact that carbon fiber (especially one that's colored other than black) is difficult to shoot, he definitely had his work cut out for him.

I had a similar time constraint. I was on a ride along documenting a local company's fleet of cars. I literally had 5 minutes to jump out of the car. Get my VAL's to place the light where I need it, and create the photos necessary to create this composite. 5 minutes. No pre planning, no time, and to top it off, people all around. This was literally flying by the seat of my pants. Here's a before and after. See more at http://automotive.digitalmacdaddy.com

Great photo. I am heading to Vegas to do this experience all the way from Australia in a few months. Can not wait!!! Thanks for sharing the image.

Nice! It's definitely a fun experience!

Well, i think you did a better job. Don't let you client know u excel under pressure. They will half it in your next project

Do you have a link to the photo and/or video? I'd like to check it out

Nailed it! Nice work :)

under an hour for the photo, 20 hours in post. Give and take

7 hours in post!

For all 7 photos? That pretty impressive. Did you already have the window plates in stock footage or did you shoot them for this as well?

Yes, the one that took the longest is the front 3/4 shot shown as the Photoshop timelapse at the beginning of the video, which was 2 hours. The window was taken from a backplate I shot for the profile shot. I took the bottom half of the window, duplicated it, mirrored it vertically, aligned it, and then bam, a window.

Very nice, I love the color feel and the amount of time is great. Do you think a little bit more of the IOR from the windows should be on the floor and the gold leaf? I do composite work every so often and have the worst time walking away from a piece, any suggestions on how to say enough is enough?

Do you have any photoshop tutorials or anything up? I'd definitley buy em. I'm trying to take my car photos to the next level and you seem like your there!

Good photos, good retouch and good final work, but there's one thing...
Why not lit the car with barroque light like rembrandt did in his paintings? He is one of the most important image creators in the history of image and the car got his name, the colors got 'his' work palette... :D

The pictures are great, the interior is stunning... but the exterior of that car is FUGLY.

you guys makes photography seems so hard to understand.
there must me another way to make it simple with same result and time saving.