"We can have cranes hanging over cars, 40-foot flats over cars, all sorts of things," he says. "Nothing's ever happened. We also have to make sure the car is pretty again if [something does happen], so there's a 'car prep' staff on set, from one of several companies in the business who've transported the car to the shoot and made sure it's clean, waxed, and pristine. They're on set for the shoot's duration."
Photographing car interiors can present its own challenges. "You know in advance if the company can provide a 'cutaway,' a roofless version of the car model, but a lot of times you don't have that luxury and you're taking a door off. Then you've got a hot light near an expensive leather seat, and it starts getting really creative in how you shape the light and control it. It's like a jigsaw puzzle. There are C-stands, flags, tape, reflectors, and foamcore everywhere. One time we had up to 60 lights on an interior. You have to move super, super slow! At the end of the day, it looks like a jury-rigged Erector set, but it's a lot of fun."
Keeping the details in mind is usually the goal of the art director, who is always on set with the client's wish list, and sometimes there's more than one of them. The client may be there as well. "That's three people to please," Garland states. "The art director, the client, and me. That means I need help. One thing for certain is that it's always a team effort. My rep, my producer, my assistants, even my bookkeeper—I'd be lost without them. They're each integral to every success I have."
That One Great Shot
Garland and his team are having fun, and Garland is appreciative of every moment during his career. To stay in demand, he views his free time as time to work harder instead of relaxing. When he gets a breather, he goes out to test, to improve, to experiment. Even his Web browsing time is spent searching for inspirational images other than his own so that trends, techniques, and new ideas are always in his mind.
"It's important for me to take in more than other car photographers' work. I admire other genres of photography, and I love everything from fashion to landscapes. I can look at a photo and try to think about how I'd do that, and if I'd do anything differently. I'm also deciding if it's a beautiful picture to me, and why. I take that with me."
Garland's humility seems overshadowed only by his love of the job, which, he says, he often needs to remember is work.
"I try not to think of the money thing. What I really think of is the end result. It's great to get paid, but it's the photography, the experience, the feeling of getting 'that shot,' that one great shot—that's when I'm really happy."
And that is what Garland thinks will keep his portfolio strong, his appointment book full, and his career satisfying.
"It's important to push yourself, to expand your horizons, and to make yourself stay at the top of your game. You can't sit on your butt and do nothing but wait for the phone to ring. Work hard for what you want. At the end of the day, if you're lucky, it's not even a job—it's a great time. And I'm having the best time!"
For more images, visit www.briangarlandphoto.com