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Nigel Harniman Photographer Interview

Nigel Harniman Photographer Interview - We talk to car and commercial photographer Nigel Harniman about himself and his stunning images.

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Category : Professional Interviewed
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© Nigel Harniman

Nigel Harniman, otherwise known as Harniman photographer, is an automotive photographer at the top of his game.

Having been into cars since he was a small boy, when Nigel was given a camera for his 16th birthday, it became clear to him that he wanted to photograph the thing he was passionate about for a living. "From then on I could never decide what I liked best, the camera or the car, so like any entrepreneur I made the choice to embrace them both and seek out a career that does the same," says Nigel.

He went on to study at Plymouth College of Art and Design, before assisting all of the major photography players at the time in London, and trying to make a break for himself by getting his own commissions.

Nigel is now living the dream photographic lifestyle, doing what he loves. "Now as a location photographer, I travel around the world shooting cars in locations from Barbuda to Billericay, Rio to Reading and back! I seem to have a knack for capturing the cars best bits in motion that’s popular with automotive advertisers for brands from Bentley to Cadillac," he enthuses.

Harniman Photographer
© Nigel Harniman

So how does Nigel create his atmospheric shots of cars moving fast down the road, with just the right amount of blur and the car perfectly in focus? "It requires the latest technological advancements," reveals Nigel. "I always go the extra mile to get the shot I want." That extra mile includes using a state of the art camera rig and pulley systems to get the camera into positions that are physically impossible for a human standing next to a race track. 

"My style is quite graphic," explains Nigel. "I rely on good composition and minimal post production." The rig Nigel uses helps to eliminate human error by steadying the camera, and moving really slowly, so that the car is captured in all its glory. "In my opinion it is the best piece of kit for mirroring a car at high speed as frames of up to 30 seconds ensure that the essence of urgency is always present in the background while the car looks incredible to the naked eye," he adds.

Nigel uses a Hasselblad camera with a Phase One back and Canon 35mm lens. "The rigs can just look like an extendable stick, but they're made of carbon fibre and are capable of securing thousands of pounds worth of gear. These lighter, shorter rigs come fitted with suction cups so you can place the rig wherever you want, this makes them more adjustable, more quickly than the long rig enabling you to capture the car at an angle you can't quite reach with the longer rig."

Harniman Photographer
© Nigel Harniman

Even when he's not behind the camera, Nigel is never far away from some form of motor vehicle:"In my personal life I embrace my passion for speed. From quad biking to motorcycle racing, I’ve always pushed life to the limits from ending upside down on my Honda 750VFR many moons ago to recently cycling from John O’Groats to Land’s End for a Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity. In between I’ve enjoyed the odd raft race, cycled some more, given Ozzie a run for his money on the quad bike front and wrapped my GTR around the end of the pit lane at Donnington Circuit!"

So, what tips does Nigel have for someone wanting to get into commercial photography? "Your greatest asset is your eyes - they are free - use them well," he says.

For more information on Nigel Harniman and his photography, take a look at his website and blog.

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