Is This Real Life? Shooting The Ford GT In Austria
Austrian Alps

On a daily basis I receive emails from individuals and companies pitching me all kinds of ideas for car shoots. Some are crazy and others are just downright weird. A little while back I opened one that caught my eye: an opportunity to shoot the new Ford GT in the Austrian Alps. The catch? They would film me while I went about the photography.

While I don’t mind being in front of the camera, I’ll admit that I was a little confused. Why on earth would someone fly me halfway around the world to watch me shoot pictures?

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Well, as it turns out, Michelin tires has a web show called DriveStyle, where they explore different aspects of car culture. Although it’s mostly based in Germany, they have filmed all over Europe for the current series.

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Up until this point they’d only had racing drivers or friends of the brand on the show, but for this episode they were reaching out to a photographer.

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Lucky for me, right? They also wanted to feature a groundbreaking car, and that’s where the new Ford GT comes in.

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What I love about the guys from Michelin is that they aren’t all talk. Within a few weeks I was sitting on flight destined for Austria.

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And not a moment after I arrived, I was standing in front of a Liquid Blue Ford GT.

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Michelin spared no expense for this shoot, closing down an entire stretch of public road. We would have exclusive use of the road for a few hours over the two-day production.

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Ever since the Ford GT was released I dreamed of shooting it, but to do it on a road like this in Austria was beyond what I could have ever imagined.

Liquid Blue
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The night before we were due to get started I was sick with a cold, but when I woke the next morning I felt incredibly refreshed. I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into shooting this blue beauty.

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It was easy for me to forget that at the same time I’d be shooting the car, DriveStyle would be shooting me.

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Prior to meeting them, I had know idea that the show’s hosts, Helge Thomsen and Matthias Malmedie, are extremely well known German television personalities. They were both super-friendly and easy to work with on and off-camera.

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Just a few minutes away from our hotel room was probably one of the best mountain roads I’ve ever seen. Is this even real life?

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I know what you guys are wondering – did I get to drive it? The answer is no, but the GT was in good hands all the same; Helge and Matthias drove the wheels off the thing.

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In this respect it helps that Matthias has a motorsports background; he’s driven in many endurance races including the famed 24 Hours of Nürburgring.

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He definitely didn’t hold back on the gorgeous mountain roads when we had full road closure. I’ll admit, I was green with envy standing on the sidelines.

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Helge is also a big car nerd like myself, but is more into American muscle. He has quite a few cars in his collection including an awesome Plymouth Roadrunner.

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While I’ve previously shot the Ford GT race car on the track and have seen a few street car versions up close, I’d never had a chance to spend some time taking in all the details that this beautiful machine has to offer.

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I really slowed down my shooting for this one; I did circles around the car and tilted my head at different heights to find all the neat shapes hidden within the body lines.

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So much form and function in one package; automotive design doesn’t get much better.

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Even the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires have a bit of a subtle aesthetic to them with a velvet texture print.

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Looking into the engine bay you can’t see much, but what is on show is aesthetically pleasing and perfectly matches in with the rest of the vehicle’s futuristic design.

Video Games
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We had our fun below the tree line, but the Austrian Alps really show their beauty at high elevation. These roads were like something out of a driving simulator or video game – absolutely perfect. Although, soon enough the skies opened up and the weather was not on our side. Some wet stuff fell from the sky, not something I see very often living in Los Angeles.

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Since I didn’t get to drive the GT, I really wanted to focus on the visual impact the car had on me and its surroundings. I did get it a ride in it though, and let me tell you that there’s not much room at all.

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In between filming takes, I snuck away to steal some shots of the GT sitting by itself. This proved to be a bit of a challenge as there was always sound equipment and cameras suction-cupped to some part of the car.

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The cockpit is barely big enough to fit two grown men, but who cares; this is a real race car for the street after all.

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There are so many small details that make it feel even more special.

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This was my view from the passenger seat. In the side mirrors you get a perfect view of what are the craziest features of the car – the large open channels on either side.

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In an age with so many global regulations when it comes to safety equipment and crash standards, it’s a wonder that something as unique as the Ford GT can exist.

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Not to mention the fact that it pays homage in its styling to the original model from 1964.

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Next up were some rolling shots, so I hung out of my rental car with Helge at the wheel while the guys in the production van up front filmed both the GT and me shooting it.

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To be honest, I didn’t really mind shooting in the gloomy and wet conditions; the dark, ominous skies proved to be a nice change from harsh Southern California sunlight.

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While everyone else was running for cover, I just kept shooting. I’d never seen a Ford GT street car in the rain.

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What I hadn’t noticed before was the way the taillights reflected off the surrounding area. It’s such a small detail, but it’s so cool.

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The wing can be manually raised, but it automatically lifts at around 75mph when you are driving. Even better is when it turns into an air brake under hard braking from triple-digit speeds.

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Walking around the car, I noticed endless shapes and angles – things you just don’t see when a car like this is on the showroom floor surrounded by hundreds of drooling car nerds.

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By now I was pretty soaked, and as we were running out of light it was time to call it a night. I didn’t realise how short the days are in Austria, but for what it’s worth, I had enough shots in the bag after the first day of filming.

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This has to be one of the most photographed new sports cars today, but spending all day with the Ford GT allowed me to shoot the way I wanted to shoot it.

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There was something really interesting about seeing it wet and bathed in soft light.

The Legend Returns
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The next morning was mostly narrative and storytelling shots, including the opening shot of the Ford GT in a barn.

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Why a barn, you ask? Well, back in the 1960s most Le Mans teams weren’t working out of fancy garages – they used local barns around Circuit de la Sarthe.

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The guys at DriveStyle thought it would be a fun idea to use a barn for the opening shot.

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The crew really are jokers, and because it was the last episode of the season, they decided to do an American Gladiators-style battle in a nearby river, which by the way was absolutely freezing.

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Both Helge and Matthias took a dip in the drink for a longer period of time than they would have liked.

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This was pretty much the common sight on set while I was shooting the GT; every time I turned around at least a few of the crew had their phones out, furiously snapping away at the blue beast.

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I didn’t manage to get any clean shots of the front of the car without a license plate during filming because it needed to remain road legal at all times. So the next day I woke up super early in order to grab some one-on-one time with the car (sans front plate) in the quaint little Austrian village of Gaschurn.

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With just 30 minutes before I needed to be in a car headed for the airport, I was running around like a crazy person with a camera.

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I asked the engineer who was driving the car around for me to put it in track mode, just for a few snaps.

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I could not believe how fast it transformed; in less than a second the GT drops down so low that you’d think it was laying chassis on the ground.

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The wing pops up right away, too. As if it wasn’t hard enough to get in and out of the thing normally, with the car sitting like this you practically have to crawl out hands first.

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My Austrian Alps trip was short, but I think it was productive. Plus, I will never forget being able to spend so much time with a halo car like the Ford GT.

As for the episode of DriveStyle, you can check it out by pressing the play button above. Try not to laugh at my terrible acting too much – I’m just a photographer!

Larry Chen
Instagram: larry_chen_foto
larry@speedhunters.com

Cutting Room Floor
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62 comments

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1

That is the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen a car shot in. That is some incredible work, congrats.

2

I agree, mostly because I live in Austria haha

3

Larry, awesome shots! The blue really brings out the curves. And man, I see a Hollywood future for you. The next Fast and Furious will be led by Larry, the great!!!

4

This car looks absolutely spectecular from every angle! What a stunner, Ford really know what they're doing in the styling department

5

At it again with the vertical photos :D

Gotta love that gaping hole on either side of the cockpit, just shows how narrow the cockpit is. I wonder how the rearview visibility is through rearview window that tapers as it goes down.

6

i didnt like design of exhagerated rear of car

7

So many wonderful photos. Gonna be hard choosing a desktop from them. Really beautiful.

The front 3/4 view of this car is proper poster car. Utterly wild.

One day...

8

BRAVO! wow larry, what a car and scenery.

9

Wallpaper overload!!

10

There's a reason why Larry Chen is a legendary automotive journalist...

11

You have captured some nice flying buttress! lol. Thanks Larry awesome pictures and great story.

12

Great photos and segment. The hosts seemed very warm and enjoyed the car. I will say for the price ford is asking the interior looks cheap. Would still rather have a replica of the original tuned to my liking. Can't beat the original GT40!!!

13

Wow Larry, that must have been quite an experience. The 2017 GT really is one of those cars that needs to be seen in person for one to really take in its beauty. Case in point: I saw the GT on display at the 2017 Edmonton Motor Show and I was completely awestruck as I walked around the car, admiring it from every angle. There are simply no amount of pictures that can do a car like that justice.

Author14

Exactly. It's amazing that it was even possible to have such a car exist in this modern age.

15
Matthew Everingham

Thanks for the new wallpaper, Mr 'The Chen!'

16

Congrats on the opportunity. I'm glad this car exists, good to see the Americans bringing something that'll concern the Italians and Germans.

17

Good God these photos are fucking amazing! I would love to see large prints of these. The styling of the Ford GT is amazing. I have been fortunate to see and hear the race version at Watkins Glen.

18

Damn nice car.

Damn shame Ford'll only sell 'em to media whores.

19

So you had an engineer driving a Ford GT dropping you at the airport. Can't think of a better "TAXI", maybe an expert racing driver but engineer is also good.

20
Linhbergh Nguyen

Angry bird pig

Author21

man bear pig

22

Great pics, Larry! Truly epic! However, I know you're shooting these at a higher resolution than 1920 x 1280. When is Speedhunters going to step up it's game and post the pics in 4k? When are we gonna get some 3840 x 2160 love?

Author23

I'll eventually post them on my personal site in 4k.

24

When people stop stealing photos and selling them as prints on eBay :)

25
Matthew Everingham

Sad but true. :(

26

I bet this is every automotive photographer's wet dream

27

everything in this article is absolutely stunning!

28

Really hoped you started the first sentence with "or is this just fantasy?“ lol
but damn, that scenery is perfect, how the curves of the road blends with the curves of the car.
Kudos to the execptional photos.

29

Awesome article.
How come Larry's articles are always gigantic and full of tons of pictures while everybody else has around half the amount?

Author30

I shoot too much. It's kind of a problem. haha.

31

I like it but I don't love it, the exhaust and spoiler don't sit quite right with me.

32

EPIC! Great pictures Larry. Thank you for sharing!

33

Beautiful car. Is it just me or does anyone else see Johnny 5 in the rear with the spoiler up?

Just me? okay...

34
Brennan McKissick

I am truly jealous of this opportunity haha. Fantastic work as always Larry. I can't decide on which image will be my new desktop at work haha.

35

INCREDIBLE!!!!! Larry killing it with the pics again!

36

Mr Larry Chen, congratulations man, your work is incredible! You should be very proud man, I have seen this car in magazines and online one million times, but never like this. Bravo!

Author37

Thank you. It was a pleasure to shoot.

38
Googly Eye Huracán

i know pics are gonna be awesome when i see Larry's name

39
Jonathan Nicholls

That rear end always reminds me of the angry bird's pig. Exhaust as nostrils and lights as eyes.

40

the FRS does it more/worse

41

Awesome Shots!! I can only imagine how excited you were to have 1 on 1 time with this !

42

Utterly beautiful, Larry.

43

What an experience?!? Loving your work!

44

Austria! Well, G'day mate!

45
Matthew Everingham

This guy! Obviously, plays forky-spoony!

Author46

Knifley Spoony!

47

Awesome photos Larry. A beautiful car photographed in such a beautiful country.

48
justaspeedhuntersderp

One does not leave a Larry Chen article without saving a dozen of his shots - everytime there are shots that are just so pleasing for the viewers eyes, it's magic.

Author49

Thanks. I am glad you can enjoy them!

50
Nolan Christian Lohmann Bjorn

110% agree with you about all the details. When I took photos at NYIAS a couple years ago I noticed a bunch of tiny touches the designers put in. It was probably my most photographed car of that event. Love the evolution for the car from the Gt40 until now. Can't wait to get behind the wheel of one soon.

Author51

You and me both. Next time I hope I get to drive it.

52

Some breath taking shots here! Awesome job on the photos

53

Whoa! great shots indeed. Love all of them.

54

Truly outstanding set of photos here Larry. There are a few shots here that belong on Page 1 of Chapter 1 of "How to Shoot Cars with a Wide Angle."

Author55

Thank you sir. That means a lot.

56
Andy G. Hypolite

Love your article about the shoot with the new Ford GT

57

Very f***ing cool!

58

That steering wheel isn't most pleasing interior detail at all. Man how awkward it is omfg

59
Matthew M. Applin III

Ford GT, Austrian Alps, Larry Chen on the lenses?? Damn son. You done did it again! Thanks for the 20 new desktop photos. You nailed this shoot in every way.

Author60

Thanks for the support!

61

Outlook Tech Support GREAT POST, I like your post.

62
Sean Klingelhoefer

Pretty crazy dude!

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