Amy Shore’s photography is about stories, not objects.
The room lightens up whenever Amy Shore laughs. And she laughs a lot. The 26-year-old automotive photographer is enthusiastic about her job – and not afraid to show it. This could be one of the reasons why Shore is so successful despite her young age. Another is the way she captures stories with her images: Shore’s automotive photography focuses on people as much as it focuses on vehicles. So while her photography features beautiful cars on a regular basis, it isn’t short of owners, drivers, craftsmen or mechanics, either.
“I want to meet the people behind the car,” says Shore. “I want to know everything about them, find out about their love for the car and their stories.” That, she says, would work best if they felt comfortable. “The first thing I do is try to get on with the person. Once they start opening up, that’s when I start working. I want to document stories, not objects.”
That’s why Shore prefers to work with cars that have a decent amount of history themselves: vintage cars. She has been fascinated by them ever since she was a teenager. “Initially, it was the lifestyle of the cars that interested me the most. The owners, the drivers, they all have their own story with the car. They have driven them miles and miles, on family vacations to the sea or on their everyday commute to work.” An owner once told her that he had driven the equivalent of the distance to the moon. Shore laughs whenever she tells stories like that. “I mean, the moon! Can you believe this?“
The small room in her house in Leicestershire, where Shore edits her pictures and prepares for upcoming jobs, is also filled with stories. Paintings and photographs – not her own, she rarely has them printed – decorate the space above her desk, and the bookshelf boasts a collection of magazines that have featured her photography. The magazines are renowned: Ramp, Revolution, Octane, there’s hardly an important name that’s missing. Next to them sits an older, sepia-tainted photograph. It shows a young man on a motorbike, an SLR around his neck – Shore’s father. “I should really get that framed,” she says and smiles while looking at it.
It was because of him that Shore first became interested in cars, and he was the one to give Shore her first camera. “Whenever we were outside, he would stop and show me things he thought looked interesting. He would tell me about the way the light was reflected in a window or how moving around and looking at something from a different angle would affect the composition of an image.” Shore continues to discuss her photography with her father, who is an artist himself. “No one else has affected my work as much as he has.”
Photojournalistic is the word Shore uses when asked about her style. She documents meticulously whenever she is on a job and brings along two cameras whenever she shoots. She doesn’t want to waste time switching lenses, that’s why she wears the cameras on a leather strap to have them ready at all times. She has figured out that this is all the equipment she needs, though. “My first automotive shooting happened very spontaneously,” says Shore. “And I had only ever photographed people, but I thought ‘why not’?” Shore is not someone to let an opportunity pass.
I want to meet the people behind the car. The first thing I do is try to get on with the person. Once they start opening up, that’s when I start working.
In order to prepare for the job, she looked at automotive photography online. “I basically just went online, opened Google, and typed in ‘how to photograph a car,’” she says, shrugging apologetically. The results showed lots of flashes, and lots of editing. “And I thought, oh, okay, well, I have one flash. I’ll just try this and see how it goes,” she says. She turns off the search engine and decides to just organize the shooting by her own rules. With a rough idea, a first draft, yet without over-planning – and without a flash. Her approach seems to work. Shore receives a lot of praise for the photos online – and a lot of new assignments.
Up until today, Shore has stayed true to her method. She is always present, always alert. She documents everything that is going on around her and is always looking for new moments to capture. She moves back and forth, looking for new angles and perspectives. Not having to carry a lot of equipment allows her to move around as quickly as she talks. And where other photographers use flashes and softboxes to search for perfection and a glossy appearance, Shore finds the characters behind the cars; the owners, drivers, the craftsmen or the mechanics.