The Speed of Light

Frederic Schlosser

“Why did I start shooting cars?” laughs Frederic Schlosser when we ask. “To be honest, I started because I thought if I shoot, for example a Lamborghini, I could sit inside it for a while! And it just took off from there.”

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© Frederic Schlosser | Sony α7R II + FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM | 1/20s @ f/8.0, ISO 320

Although he also shoots more traditional car setups, the style Frederic has become known for is, as he puts it, “all about mood. I do a lot of commercial stuff and for sure clients want to see their product in the end, but what I get really inspired by – and what today’s clients also want – is atmosphere. In a perfect car shot, the car is not the centre of the picture, but part of the scene. It’s a way of showing a lifestyle that you want to be part of; cars are meant to be driven and be experienced. If they’re just sitting there, it’s nowhere near as exciting.

”Capturing a mood requires working fast and taking advantage of the light and the weather as he finds it, meaning Frederic has come to rely on the small, light, strong and powerful features of his Sony Alpha bodies, using a combination of the Alpha 7R, 7R II and 7R III. “For a lot of my commercial work I used to use a large medium format camera, but switching to the Alpha kit has helped me work in this more reactive and expressive way,” he explains.

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© Frederic Schlosser | Sony α7R + 24-70mm f/2.8 ZA SSM | 1/400s @ f/5.6, ISO 320

“If you have a slow camera,” Frederic continues, “you can spend a lot of time setting up and then the moment has gone. It doesn’t let you shoot impulsively. I recently came back from a shoot in Barcelona and in one location we had maybe two hours with the great light, and we had to do 10 different shots. But the Alpha bodies have all the features to make those great pictures quickly. They’re up and running instantly, and the AF is perfect. The dynamic range lets me pull detail out of shots I wouldn’t have been able to before, and the resolution gives me options from close cropping to huge enlargements. All these features mean I get a lot of ‘random’ moments I wouldn’t even have expected to work before. It’s a camera that gives you amazing options.”

These ‘random’ moments are something that Frederic has come to love in his photography, and says he finds “imperfection is actually perfection. When I started out, everything had to be perfect, everything was planned. I wanted to light all the elements, the camera was on a tripod... But for me now this realism looks even better, and the same goes for locations.” 

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© Frederic Schlosser | Sony α7R II + FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM | 1/1600s @ f/2.8, ISO 200

A great example of this can be seen in one of Frederic’s favourite sets of pictures, featuring a blue BMW M2 drifting under a bridge in Los Angeles. “I was in LA for a job,” he explains, “and I have a friend over there who owns this car, and we just shot that for fun under the bridge for around two hours. The location has a lot of contrast that lets the viewer pick the car out of the shapes and shadows, and to see it being enjoyed by the driver.”

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© Frederic Schlosser | Sony α7R II + FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM | 1/800s @ f/5.6, ISO 800

Another set of images features a BMW i8 shot at night in the rain. Defocused droplets cover the lens and cut through the car’s clean lines, but they’re instrumental in adding the atmosphere of driving at night into a storm. “People think those raindrops are Photoshopped in, but these are all one-shots,” he explains, “and all the light is coming from cars which were waiting behind us because they thought we were waiting at the traffic light! It was a bit of a rush, but lots of fun.”

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© Frederic Schlosser | Sony α7R + 24-70mm f/2.8 ZA SSM | 10s @ f/10, ISO 160

Frederic finds his α7R series vital for capturing images like this. “When I have a situation like the BMW i8 on the bridge, I don't want to think about risk to the camera from the rain, I just want to get the shot. The camera should just work and with the Alpha’s weather sealing, I’ve never had any problems.”

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© Frederic Schlosser | Sony α7R III + FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM | 1/100s @ f/3.2, ISO 320

Another of his favourite sets features a Mercedes-Benz EQC, overlooking the sun as it rises over the Swedish coast. Again, the mood of the image perfectly fits the campaign. “This was the first full electric car from Mercedes, and the hook was ‘it's a dawning of a new era.’ So, we’re shooting against the light, and against the clock, to get that atmosphere…10 or 15 minutes with the perfect light, and when it’s like that you can’t waste time thinking about the camera. But with the Alpha 7R series, not a moment is lost, and it just works for every situation.”

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