APA – Interview with Tim Wallace

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Originally published on 25/06/2015

APA: Hello, Tim! Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Tim: I work as a professional commercial photographer and I’m based in the UK. I guess most people slap the title of ‘car photographer’ on me and I guess they are right but in my industry the two things I am most well known for is my style and my photography shooting the details of cars.

“I plan to live forever, so far so good…” I’m 40-something but apparently 40 is the new 30 so things are always good and I have never felt better!

I don’t sleep much because I’m always thinking about what I can do to create something new, on a morning I often wake up excited for the day like a kid at Christmas just wanting to get out on the road and get on with it.

People say I have a wicked sense of humour, wicked, twisted, something like that! I would say that you’d probably remember me if we met and thats good in my book.

I have the most amazing lady in my life, Angela, who has always been there for me no matter what, she is my rock when I need the World to stop the spinning for a little while and in our house we use the term ‘Team Wallace’ a lot which always makes me laugh especially when our five year old reminds us at the most unexpected times that “Team work makes the dream work…!”

We look out for each other and we pull together through the laughs as well as the not so funny stuff. Our two amazing boys are Ben And Charlie, the latter being the youngest but he’s most definitely not a push over even if he is the ‘little legs’ of the family. Lastly there is ‘Eddie’ our faithful if not slightly eccentric dog, and that makes up the gang and all that is important in my World. We work hard and we know that life is for living, I enjoy living mine and do everything I possibly can so that they can do the same “I love the whole creative visual voodoo, the journey from A to B and the chance of arriving at C…” My work is often regarded as dramatic and to me photography is a process, you’ll never hear me mutter ‘it’ll be fine’ as that’s simply not enough for me. Life is short and I aim to make mine worth while and interesting with work that I hope reflects this.

My goal in life is to be myself always, be creative, be true and most of all improve just a little part of peoples lives with images that both entertain and sometimes invoke the feelings that I had when I shot them. I’ve won awards and I’m always of the thought that maybe they got the wrong Tim Wallace, hey I’m grateful always but never take myself or any achievements too seriously, life’s too short and people will forget you quickly. I jumped off a cliff in Norway a few years ago in a BASE jump, why?, well because it felt right for me to do that for myself at that time, I truly believe that anything in life is possible, work hard, be an honest person, tell the people that you love just what they mean to you as often as you can, and most of all be out there shooting because sometimes that’s where amazing things can happen.

APA: How did you get started in automobile photography?

Tim: I’ve always had a love for cars, as a 6 yr old I used to collect the ‘matchbox’ model cars, I had around 300 I think, never used to play with them much but I used to line them all up onto of their boxes and put my beside light on them so they looked cool!

I guess my destiny was set at that point, I just never realised it back them lol.

APA: What camera did you first begin photographing with? What type of camera, lens, and equipment do you use now?

Tim: My first camera was a Nikon FM with a 50mm lens, most under rated lens in history, everybody should own a 50mm!

These days I shoot Nikon with D4s and a vast collection of lenses through from my favourite 24mm-70mm to the big 300mm. I prefer fix focal length and whilst thats not always practical with the Nikon system it is pretty much where I am with the medium format gear I use. I recently swapped out my H4 for a H5D CMOS and pretty happy with that. Lenses again are a array really from 28mm my widest that is not used that often in truth through to the monster heavy 50mm-110mm that will break your toes if you drop it

Which system I choose to shoot a gig with really depends on what I’m shooting, and what the final output is for.
APA: Among the gadgets that you own, is there something that you wish you hadn’t bought? Why?

Tim: Years ago I bought a ring flash, Geeeez what the hell did I bother with that for, I had the thought that it could be good for car interiors if used right, never did work that one out…

My lighting style is self taught as I didn’t want to just copy somebody else’s style, to me its crucial that your style is your own and that it evolves as your work does. Clients choose a photographer a little like doing a risk assessment, its all about firstly ‘are you able to shoot the job’, ‘are you motivated and creative enough for them’ and finally ‘does your ‘style’ fit in with their brand or vision’

APA: What do you feel is the most challenging thing about photographing what you do?

Tim: Hmmmm my top five would have to be:

- Weather, as I mostly work on location
- Planning, some shoots take a lot more organising than most people i think realise
- Clients, lol – some clients are great and a pleasure to work with, some are hard work and flit and change last minute which can seriously impact No2 but that’s life and you just have to be professional and get on with it whilst maintaining a decent level of control.
APA: Can you name some photographers that inspires you with their works and why?

Tim: In truth I don’t much look at other photographers work too much, i feel that its easy to be influenced by people without realising it sometimes. From a wider point of view I love the attitude and work of Don McCullen, he’s a big hero or mine. In my own industry there are many who I think are really exceptional in what they do and have a clear passion for their work, that is a huge point in my book.

Frederic Schlosser is a photographer that I respect and I love his view of the world and his attention to detail, its clear to see his skill but also his passion in what he does.

APA: How has the automotive photography industry changed since you started?

Tim: I only started out from scratch 8 years ago after being made redundant for the 3rd time… In that period though I think things have moved and there are a lot of people out there who mail me who are looking to get into car photography, most perhaps don’t always have a clear grasp of the realisation of just how much commitment is required to succeed. Idon’t class myself as a great photographer by any means, I’m ‘ok’ in my view but I do class myself as a very hardworking businessman and photographer. These days its sometimes all about the quick fix and that’s not what people will find as a long term path to success, you need to build and build solid.
APA: Are you an in-the-camera shooter or do you use post production a lot?

Tim: I try to shoot in camera as much as possible, with the detail work thats pretty easy as its just good lighting really and so any post work is more likely to be paint correction and dust on the body that was missed.

APA: How would you describe your photographic style and how it has developed over the years?

Tim: My style is described by others as dramatic, I’m not sure on that one really, I don’t ever feel that comfortable taking about my own work as often I’m never quite 100% happy with it but then as a ‘creative’ thats pretty common probably.

I’m not afraid to use a wide open DOF and place the car or detail where it does not always dominate the frame, less is often more in my eyes. Over the last 8 years I have gained confidence in what I do and I push things more and more, lighting is and always will be my mistress and for me its the key. Photoshop is something I do badly in my view so lighting is where I put my efforts ! lol
APA: Thank you for giving us this interview. What are some tips you could give to people that really like your work?

Tim: If people want to watch me shoot then there are 8 online video classes, mostly about lighting, that are over an hour long each available through KelbyOne.

Top tips for success…

- Believe in yourself 101% always no matter what
- Don’t get critic from family and friends, they love everything you do!
- Don’t wait for doors to open, kick them down always
- Learn your craft, photography and lighting, not just PS
- Be polite but not a walk over with clients, value what you do
- Turn off your back screen for a week and shoot, think….

If you can understand and cope with the fact you are going to fail before you succeed then your halfway there already. The measure of somebody is not always ‘how much’ they have achieved but how strong they are to pick themselves up after a knock back and keep on pushing forward.
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