Today, we have the pleasure of speaking with Ammar Kamran, a talented photographer based in the bustling city of London, England. His photographic journey began with casual experiments using a Samsung Note 9, capturing everything from nature to urban life. It was his early fascination with a Blue BMW M3 that steered his focus towards automotive photography, transforming a hobby into a passionate pursuit of capturing the soul of each car through his lens.
In our interview, we'll delve into Ammar Kamran's unique perspective on car photography. We're keen to learn about his adept combination of technical skill and artistic vision in his images. What inspires him to start new projects, and what obstacles does he encounter in the niche area of high-end car photography? Ammar will offer a glimpse into his creative journey and provide tips for emerging photographers drawn to the field of automotive photography.
To see Ammar Kamran's impressive body of work, make sure to visit his Instagram page.
In the beginning, I would photograph random things with my Samsung Note 9, my phone at the time, like nature, people, experimenting with angles and edits. Then I started diverting my attention more onto photographing cars. Eventually, I began taking cars more seriously. The first car I photographed was a Blue BMW M3, which I’ve kept on my camera roll as a memory of when I first said to myself “This is it, this is what I want to do.”
I think the technical elements really make a difference in making photos look good, such as angles, lighting, what’s in the shot, etc. However, what happens in post is also really important, as it allows you to accentuate those features or remove things from the image, ultimately perfecting the final product. Something I’ve always said is that post is more than 50% of an image looking great, not completely, as the image itself needs to look good too.
I really like making pictures look natural, but enhancing the environment. Give the viewer a real sense of atmospheric presence. Make them feel like they’re there seeing it with their own eyes. I usually bring out certain colors and reduce others if they aren’t enough or are too much. What I really like is using the tone curve to get that extra edge over the lighting, and I also love color-grading too because you can do SO much with it.
It’s actually one I’ve done fairly recently with a Liquid Silver Aston Martin V12 Vantage with red interior. The photoshoot went much better than I expected as the owner suggested their own locations, which was so great. It’s wonderful having a really nice owner especially when they begin to contribute and suggest ideas. The reason it was particularly challenging was because at the time, we were running against the clock and were relying on sunlight.
The paintwork really comes out in the sun, and I managed to catch a lot of the metallic speck in the sun’s rays, so while it was fun, it was stressful trying to maintain a time limit so we could make it to locations on time, but I think we did very well. A bigger obstacle was editing down the pictures I’ve photographed, which is over 30 pictures. While it was and has been really fun, it’s something that’s taken far too long to get to the end of. Other things, such as work for University, and travel with family, delayed the process of getting the images back to the owner, but I think he’ll be pleased with the result as through that, the images have ended up looking much better than I expected.
What I’d seriously have to go with is my game-changing SD card I bought a couple months ago - it’s amazing!! Before, I’d transfer my photos over using a micro-USB to USB with a USB to USB-C adapter on my Samsung Note 10+. Now, I can charge my camera (if needed) whilst importing all my content onto my phone in virtually minutes. I simply put it into my after sticking my camera’s SD card into it and I can select the files I want to import onto my phone and send them over.
For clarity, I edit using my phone as I find it less of a hassle to edit and upload from one device instead of sending them to and from my laptop, which currently isn’t as speedy as my phone is.
To be fair, while it is quite contemporary and a recently booming feature of Instagram, I’m beginning to want to start uploading reels as they’re being pushed very much by Instagram’s algorithm, which comes at the cost of photos unfortunately. After all, we are in a digital age where video footage is undividedly more powerful and effective in viewer engagement than photo. Just look at TikTok, the most popular social media platform at the moment; video. I’ve seen countless amazing videos made using both phones and cameras, but both have similar-looking footage filming wise.
With respect to my photos, I seek to differentiate myself from many others, looking only upwards at those who have got it going with their work. I take on carefully the angles and edits used to enhance certain areas of photographs to be used to enhance my own work, so the car looks as best as it can. Through this, my style is ever-improving, creeping closer to the aesthetic I want to express when my photos are viewed. Ultimately, I think what best describes what I’m trying to achieve is a natural look, ensuring I don’t leave small features out such as name/model badges, stickers, noticeable features (leather upholstery), or anything else that shouldn’t go without a snap.
From what I’ve seen, it can be both. Generally, the idea is that it should be something collaborative, with positivity and artists working together to produce works of excellence and beauty. You can also collaborate with brands, dealerships and even owners to promote their cars, as well as yourself in the process as a brand and an independent content creator.
However, it can also be highly competitive as many people are trying to compete for the top spot with the best photos, in some cases of the car they are all photographing. This creates quite a brutal element of ruthless competitiveness to the otherwise creator-friendly atmosphere photography seems to have, which I guess makes sense. Another reason for me to take more photos.
Ooh, this is a good one! Some advice I’d give my younger self about starting off would be getting out more to shoot and potentially getting a better camera to start off with. I think I did pretty well to begin with, but also I could’ve potentially gotten something better that would’ve performed slightly better and been newer without breaking my budget.
One of my favourites at the moment is this one from the Aston Martin Vantage Photoshoot I did. We stopped at the lake at Hyde Park and took a picture of it facing diagonally against the lake, and I think it looks incredible with the sunset and the lake in the background.
In terms of another photographer (there are so many to choose from), I’ve gone with Alex Penfold’s shoot with 4 iconic Ferraris for DK Engineering. His stuff is top class and he has such good opportunities, all of which he makes magic from. While it was hard to find something shoot, I’ve had to settle with this as the cars have been beautifully grouped together to form a fantastic mix between classic and modern classic, to modern epitome of iconic modern supercar.
Now this is a very good question. After a very long think, it would have to be;
1. McLaren F1 GTR Longtail (Road legal, 1999)
2. Ferrari LaFerrari
3. Pagani Zonda Cinque Roadster
In truth, I’ve seen countless photographers capture these cars (maybe not at the same time), and they honestly are so special and look exceptional too. These three cars are so special to me and I’d die to photograph them in a couple locations one quiet Sunday morning in Central London. These cars are so raw, their V12s roar fiercely, which adds to their incredible appearance.
We're thankful to Ammar Kamran for opening up about his adventures and insights in automotive photography. His path, defined by unwavering dedication and profound skill, is truly motivating and brimming with enlightening experiences. Ammar's talent for encapsulating the spirit of cars is extraordinary. We cherish the knowledge he has imparted on his craft and eagerly anticipate his future contributions as he continues to influence the realm of automotive photography significantly.
Check out more of Ammar's work and download the TCN app today and immerse yourself in a world where automotive beauty meets high-end technology. Stay tuned for our regular updates, and let's drive into the future of automotive enthusiasm together!