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Maryna Cotton reflects on fine art car photography and our FDL technique

Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Someone once said: “photography is a journey”. It is a never-ending dynamic and mostly exciting process of learning and growth. My personal journey with car fine art images started five years ago when Sarel, my partner, suggested that my affinity for contemplative photography as well as strong simple compositions be re-directed to automotive work. I have always loved cars, however, my love for cars is a little different than that of the average petrolhead…I love car designs - the art in the shape of cars.

As commercial photographers in South Africa, we had come to realise that the automotive photography market in South Africa is very small. Car brands are all bound by global CI agreements, with the results that the car images seen on billboards locally, in brochures and other marketing materials are mostly set against northern hemisphere backgrounds and very far removed from our African reality. Adding to the challenges, advances in CGI make distinguishing between a digital drawing and a photograph nearly impossible. It was quite clear that we needed to do something unique to create a market for our vision to show the beauty in car designs like they had never been shown before.

The Focussed Diffused Lighting technique did not come about over night. Initially driven by a desire to eliminate reflections in the highly reflective surfaces of cars, we started experimenting with custom-made hand-held modifiers to create a bigger, softer light source. After several modifications the current modifiers deliver a very soft feathered light source, which creates a matt finish on the paint work. Subtle design elements in the car design are easily high-lighted. The name FDL describes the light well - a focussed “spot of soft light” with vignetting which grades to pitch black on the edges….

Many awards and accolades have lead us to believe that FDL has a place in the world of automotive photography. We are looking forward to travelling to travelling in Europe and the US in 2023.

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