PDN Photo of the Day

How We Get Around: People and Their Cars

We received a promo a few weeks ago featuring Mark Mothersbaugh (some may remember him from the band Devo, or know him for his work on soundtracks for Wes Anderson films) perched on the hood of his red 1958 Mercedes-Benz (slide 10). This is just one image from a much larger project by Los Angeles-based photographer Ryan Schude. In 2001, while attending the San Francisco Art Institute, Schude photographed portraits of people with cars that had vanity license plates. After graduating, Schude’s project evolved, as did his career (Schude has an extensive commercial and editorial client list) and his style. Schude’s portfolio consists of many heavily produced, lit, elaborate group photographs. Within the last few years, Schude has revisited his portraits of people with their cars, producing 40 images in the series thus far. He told PDN via email, “The project is the first in the vein of a documentary style for me and blends my staged tendencies with a concept that is about real people posing as themselves or a character loosely based off them.” Schude talks with his subjects to prior to each shoot, creating a collaborative process, he says. “Often we end up with a straightforward snap shot, other times we develop a whole narrative backstory and use props, wardrobe, lighting and location to deliver a more cinematic effect.” Schude says one of the most “liberating” aspects of this project is that it has no rules. “They are all connected by the fundamental concept of people with their vehicles, so the actual look and feel of each image is allowed to take on its own shape and style.”

Schude finds his subjects through friends of friends, approaching strangers while on the road, and even leaving personalized notes to the owners of cool cars he sees on the street. Other notable subjects included in our gallery are set designer Adi Goodrich (slide 3), and photographers Emily Shur (slide 7) and Jimmy Marble (slide 4). Schude often finds locations while riding his bike or driving around Los Angeles, then catalogues them for future shoots. The lighting is a mix of available and artificial. “I try to avoid shooting separate plates as much as possible in order to keep the end result looking realistic, since often we are shooting at dusk when the ambient light is rapidly changing. This may call for strobes in and around the vehicles, locations, and the subjects to balance the scene with the natural light.”

Schude is always looking for new subjects. If you, or someone you know, has an interesting vehicle, contact him through his website. “I have been having so much fun meeting new people who are excited to work with me in making each portrait better than the last, and [who are] looking forward to how far we can push the idea together.” —Amy Wolff

Posted in:



, , , ,


Comments off


Comments are closed.

Top of Page