Interview With Photographer Tim Wallace

Interview With Photographer Tim Wallace - Tim Wallace (AmbientLife) specialises in quality car photography. Here's his story.

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Tim Wallace (AmbientLife) has had a varied and interesting life, from working in the media, to being in the Royal Marines, before eventually deciding to set up, a hugely successful car photographic company.

Here, he tells us a bit about his life, his equipment, and his inspirations.

Photo courtesy of Ambient Life
Tim is originally form York and first gained an interest in photography at the age of eight through developing film images. "My grandfather was keen on cars, and used to take all these images but could never be bothered to develop them! I used to develop his pictures in the garden shed, which first sparked my interest in photography, and particularly cars,' said Tim.

Tim believes that this has given him an edge in terms of photography, even in this digital age: "I like to use tone, texture and contrast, and these features can be difficult to grasp at first if you've never developed and printed an image."

Tim spent some time as a press photographer, and this got him thinking about angles and the types of images that you can take: "I used to go to these events, like the prime minister issuing a statement, for example, and it was always difficult to get a good position for a shot. I tried to get a different angle on the event, by going behind the speaker, getting down low and taking a shot of their feet, with the crowd in the background. I was always looking for pictures that told a different story to the one everyone else's pictures told."

After leaving the paper industry, Tim went to work for a press agency, which unfortunately was short lived after a mini recession hit the country. "I decided to join the Royal Marines, of all things!" Laughs Tim. "For a big portion of my life photography became a hobby, and I honed my skills in photographing more varied subjects."

GT Passion
 Photo courtesy of Ambient Life

Tim decided to go back to a career in photography in 2006. "I just sat down at my kitchen table for five days solid, and came up with a business plan for a photography company specialising in car photography," says Tim. Luckily, it worked, and AmbientLife was born.

AmbientLife is now a huge company with clients such as Aston Martin and Jaguar queueing up for Tim's magical car photography skills.

The success of the business is down to finding a niche in the market, as Tim explains: "The industry was crying out for emotional photography, that really connects with the cars being photographed. Classic cars are very expensive, and the photos need to represent that and the character of the car to be successful. There was a niche in the market for quality, emotional car photography. A fresh edge was needed, and this was achieved by doing something different and not mimicking others."

Tim uses the Aston Martin DB5 and DB9 as examples. "The DB5 (below) is romantic, so you'd be looking at shooting it in traditional settings such as the Alps. Cars to me are like people, in that they have personalities. The DB9 is a more violent, aggressive car, so it needs to be shot to bring that across to the viewer.”

DB5 Swiss Alps
Photo courtesy of Ambient Life
When Tim started out with the business, he was told that it would fail because he was too old, didn't live in London and that his photos were too arty.

He has turned these criticisms on their head, and they are now his main advantages. Living away from London means that it is easier for him to travel all over the country, and the artiness of his work enables him to discuss with clients what they want, to get a truly representative photo, rather than something that is seen as bog-standard in the car industry.

Tim uses top-of-the-range equipment to bring his creations to life. He uses a Nikon D3s and a variety of Hasselblad cameras, depending on the circumstances. "It's whetever you're comfortable with, really," Tim explains. "Don't get me started on the Canon/ Nikon debate. They each have their pros and cons, and at the end of the day you need to choose what works best for you in your job or hobby. What matters is that you use the equipment correctly, and better yourself through it to achieve better photos. It's not all about the camera, it's the person behind the camera too."

Aston Martin DBS
Photo courtesy of Ambient Life

Tim is running a series of car seminars in 2013. For more information and pricing, visit the Calumet website. There are also a series of online video tutorials available from Kelby Training by Tim.

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JackAllTog Plus
9 5.4k 58 United Kingdom
23 Oct 2012 1:05PM
Wow, what a great explanation of how you got to where you are, super images of the cars - esp the DB5 at the end.

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The best in the field (or studio) today in terms of Fine Art Car Photography, Car Advertising. Very inspirational
Nice to hear about how you got to where you are today.
davidburleson Plus
12 3.0k 3 United Kingdom
23 Oct 2012 4:59PM
one of my main inspirations.
23 Oct 2012 6:52PM
Thank you guys, very kind words and I am pleased that you enjoyed the interview.
We set off for San Fran and Death Valley in the morning for some shooting and I look forward to exploring a different type of landscape to what I normally deal with, should be an exciting challenge and really in truth that is what photography is all about, pushing to be creative and pushing to try new things. Have a great week and thank you again for the kind feedback regarding my work, I very much appreciate your views.

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