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A Picture Of Modern Cars

On my bookcases there are many tomes and magazines dedicated to photography. They picture both history and the future. From time to time I browse these books for photographic inspiration and I am sometimes struck by how much we continue to revere the image makers of old.

Cartier-Bresson, Bailey, Sieff; so many pioneers of photography whose images continue to influence people today…

and it’s the same with cars.

Have a look out the window or study the traffic as you go about your day. With the possible exception of supercars and certain specialist motors, how many cars do you see that give you that cliché know as the ‘Wow’ factor?

Take car design: Is there not, among the various sectors, a certain similarity between one manufacturer’s model and another? It is as if designers are afraid to tear up this year’s rule book. It is clear that accountants rule the roost today. Crossovers are an example of this. Look across the car park of your local mall and they are, like wildebeest, hard to distinguish one from another.

It is easy and to generalise and it is true that sometimes a car maker will have a go at being a bit different. For example, for me, the new Honda Civic works; the Toyota CH-R doesn’t, but the point stands: Where’s the individuality?

Classic Cars

Now take a look back, back in time, to a day when the USP of a new car was that it was special by being different. Sure, yesterday’s designs look quaint and old-fashioned in today’s high tech world but at least it was easy to distinguish one from another; not just brand from brand, but model to model. This is another reason why classic cars need to be preserved; not just for historical reasons but because, we can but hope, their design will at some point inspire car makers to take a bit of a gamble for once and perhaps take design hints from the past.

Features, Features, Features

DSLR and even compact cameras and smartphones today have loads more technological and exotic features than those of as little as thirty years ago, some gizmos more useful than others and many that never get used at all.

Those old photographers had none of that yet it is their work that endures. Certainly there are plenty of fine and innovative image makers around today but their work is drowned in a sea of trivial photographic mediocrity. Millions of pictures are made daily yet few endure beyond a brief glimpse on social media.

If you want an example of appalling photography in a digital age see the home-made used car ads. If a picture paints a thousand words, much of what you see will get you walking away from a prospective purchase. How can you make a car look worse than it really is?

Like the modern camera, Twenty-First Century cars are now connected to the world but, like the latest all-singing, all-dancing imaging devices, I don’t care how connected they are because they have become disconnected from the road and the ideal. The thrill has gone and the picture is not looking good. Geoff Maxted

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