As you can tell from the “About” section of my website, I clearly am not an enthusiastic writer. Honestly, I probably spent about half an hour silently sitting in front of my keyboard trying to figure out how to put together a short paragraph about myself for my visitors. Yet, I ended up with three sentences. Two if you only count the actual bio portion.
So when Speedhunters hit me up for a blog article about my photography, I figured I would spend a good amount of time going through past features to try and see how others had done it. While reading, I noticed a recurring theme among most of the photographers. Our love of cars is what piqued our interest in photography.
Being raised in a traditional Asian household, I had never considered becoming the least bit artistic, let alone choosing photography as my main profession. My father is an engineer, and I figured I would be heading down the same path. Despite this, I’ve always loved cars. My walls were always covered in car posters: the McLaren F1, a Ferrari F40, that “Justification for a Higher Education” poster I’m sure a lot of you had, and eventually a bunch of riced out (by today’s standards at least… Veilside FTW?) Hondas and Acuras.
When I came across my first car forums, I always enjoyed looking through threads with excellent car photographs. Like most automotive photographers I know, my original two sources of inspiration were Wynn Ruji (I still have two of his posters on my wall) and Easton Chang (who didn’t get any bedroom-wall-love since he was too cool to sell his prints at high school student prices). Through following Easton, I discovered the dieselstation.com website and forum, and pretty much began stalking my favorite car photographers and their work. With nothing to share and being too shy to say anything, I was a hardcore lurker for the longest time. Thus, was my introduction to the world of car photography.
My “career” as an automotive photographer began a little backwards. I learned how to use Photoshop before I even picked up my first camera. I spent a good amount of my free time in high school playing around in Photoshop by lowering cars, adding rims, and throwing on body kits – which you can actually still see at: http://scottchu.com/2006/pshop.htm. Eventually, I started learning how to adjust colors and contrast in Photoshop as well. I would spend hours playing around in Photoshop modifying cars to how I wanted them to look; trying different sets of wheels until I found something I liked. Even though the source photos I used were never mine, I loved being able to tweak photographs to my liking and play around with how things looked. This was my way to modify the imaginary cars in my dream garage.
One bored summer day, my friend Jason hit me up to tag along as he took some shots of his newly modded 323i. He wanted some photos to post online. My dad had recently purchased a 3.2MP Sony point-and-shoot which I brought along with me. So we went out to a recently abandoned Home Depot’s loading bay – loading bays are where all car photographers are born – to snap some shots. He ended up posting the pictures on E46Fanatics, and we got some pretty good feedback.
From there, I began to shoot more of my friend’s cars to share online as well. The more I photographed cars, the more I realized I enjoyed photography.
Eventually, some local people began to contact me to see if I would take pictures of their cars as well.
Photographing cars became my ticket to escape the suburban life, meet some interesting people, and see some of my dream cars. It was during this time that I began considering pursuing photography as something more than a hobby.
Although I’d always been a fairly quick learner in school, I never found the motivation to actually try harder than my constantly declining personal standards. Despite how hard my parents tried to push me, I only got straight A's once in my life. This was during my first quarter of 6th grade.
Literally every report card after that, my GPA would steadily become lower and lower. By the time I graduated high school, I was borderline passing classes and even failed a couple classes due to my laziness. Even though I would enjoy a class here or there, not one subject was able to capture my interest.
After I graduated high school, I was under the impression that the only thing that could hold my interest was photography. Although I had gone the route my parents expected and applied to a bunch of UCs, I wanted to pursue photography as a career since it was something I was actually able to enjoy learning.
I ended up going to Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, CA – three years of standing in a dark room, standing in a dark studio, photographing shiny balls, color charts, or playing with mannequins. Even though I loved learning about lighting and photography, it was during this time that I realized photography wasn’t my passion. My passion is, and has always been, cars.
Cars are what make me want to create photographic images.
Cars are what inspire me to wake up at 4am to drive 100 miles so I can get some hopefully epic sunrise photos.
Cars are what make me drive around aimlessly for hours looking for locations to shoot at.
Cars are what probably bring you to this website.
As cliché and cheesy as it sounds, the car community really has become a second family for me.
A lot of my closest friendships are a direct result of a mutual passion for cars.
Some photographers photograph cars as their own form of art.
I simply love being around cars in beautiful locations.
I don’t care how fast a car is or how well it handles. I just love how cars look in their surroundings.
My inspiration for being an automotive photographer has always been to photograph cars I like looking at so that I can share them with other people who love looking at cars too.
As of now, I’m not even sure what my goals in life are. I honestly don’t even know if photography is my life calling.
With the rise of CGI and videos in the automotive world, I may even move on to a different medium for capturing my love for cars. However, as long as I’m able to continually be around the awesome community of car enthusiasts and share our passion for cars, I know I will be happy.
Thank you for letting me share my passion with you.
- Scott Chu