For Joe Farace, vroom, vroom and click, click are the sounds that power his day as he tools with his twin passions: cars and cameras. Driven by a sense of humor and planning, Farace keeps the mood light, and keeps it moving.
Describing his work day, Farace entertains with a classic Beach Boys line: "We'll have fun, fun, fun 'till daddy takes the T-bird away."
"There's a reason they call it work, but like any assignment, it's all about planning. Before any photo shoot, I know exactly what I am going to do. With multiple cars, I storyboard the shot to show everyone where to place the cars."
While his early influences were photographers—Pete Turner among them—today he draws more inspiration from the movies. High on his list of movie favorites are The Fast & the Furious, starring Vin Diesel, and The House of Flying Daggers, for its special effects.
"Sometimes my images are real, sometimes they are really impressions," says Farace. His affinity for special effects is apparent in his image of the Ferrari F1 (above). "This is a photograph of Michael Schumacher winning the rainy 2003 U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis," he explains. "The original image was made with an Olympus E-1 with a 300mm f/2 lens and a 1.4x tele extender. It was hand-held; I wished I had brought a monopod. Exposure was 1/1000 second at f/5.6 at ISO 200. After doing some tweaks in Adobe Photoshop, I had kind of a 'LeRoy Neiman moment' and started playing with the built-in filters. I applied three different filters to create the final image, which is more impressionist than a literal interpretation of a race car."
Shooting on the Speedway
How does Farace capture sports cars moving at blazing speeds?
"The secret, if any, is to shoot when the speeds are not incredible and top-positioning yourself at the part of the track where the car may be braking hard going into a turn," he says. "The more interesting the turn, such as the Corkscrew at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, the more interesting the photograph."
Referring to the Autobinachi Bianchina (right), Farace recalls: "I took this photograph at the Automezzi Italian car show using a Leica Digilux 2. I call it 'Dreaming of Fiats,' even though the car is only Fiat-powered. This photograph actually tells a story.
"I made two exposures: one with the boy in it, one without. Then I created two layers: one of the car by itself and one of the background, to which I applied nik multimedia's Old Photo filter. The boy was extracted from the file and layered on top of the other with the transparency set, so you could see through him."
In striking contrast, the image he calls 'Planned Obsolescence" (p. 12 top) is a straight black-and-white photograph, free of special effects. Explains Farace: "This image is part of a series of photographs that have been 'aesthetically abandoned,' as were these trucks on a farm not far from my home."
He captured the image on Kodak T400 CN film with a Kiev USA Horizon 202 panoramic camera. As an aside, he explains that he made this image before buying his Hasselblad Xpan, which produces an even wider-format image.
The Next Mario Andretti?
Farace doesn't just love photographing cars. He loves racing them. "People think racing is about speed," he says. "Yes, it's about winning, but it's also about the finesse involved in achieving a good result even if you don't win. My wife, Mary, and I have a racing team called Tortuga Racing. For those who don't know Spanish, 'tortuga' means 'turtle,' so you can see that we are about the fun of racing. My VW GTI barely touches 90 m.p.h. at the end of the quarter-mile on the drag strip, but the 14 seconds it takes me to do that is exhilarating."
The white Jaguar XK-R shown at right, as well as on the cover of this issue of SP&D, is one car he would love to race.
"This photograph was taken at the last car show where Mary and I displayed a Jaguar," recalls Farace. "Mary was in the middle of chemotherapy, and while we were excited to be with our friends in the Jaguar club, she was very weak and we didn't stay long.
"I had my brand-new Canon EOS 1D Mark II with me for the express purpose of photographing Mark II Jaguars, which I did. But I also saw this limited edition Stirling Moss Jaguar XK-R.