Discover the story of Damian Forthun, a photographer from the San Diego area, whose passion for automotive photography was sparked by an impromptu early morning adventure. This experience, involving iconic cars and the initial use of simple tools like an iPhone, set him on a path of creative discovery and professional growth in the dynamic world of automotive imagery.
In our interview, we'll explore Damian Forthun's unique perspective on automotive photography. We're eager to learn how he skillfully combines technical skill with artistic vision in his work. What sparks the initiation of his new projects, and what obstacles does he encounter in the specialized arena of automotive photography? Damian will divulge details about his creative journey and offer valuable tips for those aspiring to carve out a niche in the complex world of automotive imagery.
Don't forget to take a look at Damian Forthun's remarkable portfolio on his Instagram page.
I first got interested in automotive photography when my best friend came into my bedroom and woke me up at 5am for a meet up in Ontario, California and I remember seeing a bunch of Nissan R32’s and being like “Oh my god I saw these in Need For Speed Underground” and started taking iPhone photos. I took iPhone photos for like 4 months and then went to a meet for Boden Autohaus and saw my first RWB.
It was RWB Medusa and I took a photo on my phone and said, this would look incredible on a camera I just know it. I went to Instagram to post it to my story and I saw a photo from the same angle same car same everything almost, posted by someone who is now a friend of mine. I realized that if I used a camera I could take my photos to the next level.
To really make a photo stand out for automotive photography I think it comes down to your overall composition. Background and lighting are all obviously subject to change and can’t always be perfected but finding a way to compose a shot that truly compliments those elements that are always subject to change is what separates the good from the bad photos. If you look at two different photos of the same car, at the same location, at the same time, you can see a drastic difference in how much that photo really resonates with you.
Location can always add to the shot if you have an environment that really makes an effort to draw out certain details. Like say for example you’re shooting a car from Japan and you want it to have a better feel than industrial or commercial backgrounds, finding something similar to what you might find in Japan could draw out that element.
Things like a downtown environment with neon signs or a junction of elevated highways intermingled could sort of replicate spots people have associated with those cars. In my opinion I’d say my style still needs a lot of work. I do my best to find locations that compliment the cars color and style the most. I used to over edit quite a bit and I’d like to think I’ve toned that down since then to be a simple yet tasteful retouching of colors to bring out what I saw in the moment of taking the photos. I don’t believe in faking colors or motion blur I want to be as close to raw while still highlighting everything I saw when the photo was taken.
The most challenging shoot for me was definitely The Run Rally. Before they left there was a building that was lit up in all purple and blue lighting and trying to find a way to make that show up and have the colors appear not just completely blue or purple was definitely a challenge but I ended up having so much fun with it once I got comfortable with drowning out the conflicting colors.
Without a doubt it’s my phone. If I didn’t have my phone I would have never started taking photos to this level. I wouldn’t be able to make the connections I’ve made and maintain them so effortlessly. I’ve used my phone as a light for night photos countless times when I first started. It’s also what I use to reach out to new people so I can create more content and make new friends.
It’s not the best strategy but I definitely take breaks to focus on other things I have going on in my life so I don’t get burn out. I don’t claim to be the most unique creator but having a fresh set of eyes always helps. Whether it’s by choice or circumstance.
When I first started I definitely thought it was super competitive. People not wanting to share spots or camera gear. As I’ve branched out I’ve found that people are a lot more inviting when they’re not just starting themselves. I always look forward to collaborating with everyone I can.
Take a deep breath, don’t get overwhelmed you can handle this. I know talking to people is scary for you but it’s going to take you to so many amazing places and everyone you meet is going to make your life that much better. Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable.
Easily the shot of Roberts RWB Geisha that I took for Nakai san when I first started. I had my son with me and he was just an infant. I had met Robert by pure coincidence and he was so warm and inviting. He had told me a new build was going to happen and told me to come out to come see it. I spent the day with my son and we were surrounded by wonderful people like Robert, Nakai San, Levi, and it just felt like one big family.
I had asked Robert if I could sneak him out for photos after the build but he said that a photographer from Japan was going to come to shoot his car for a magazine in Japan. Hours past and I asked if I could go with them and he brought me over to Nakai San and he asked me to take the photos as the photographer was not going to make it in time. Keep in mind I had been shooting on an actual camera for maybe 4 months at this time? So I was absolutely terrified and excited. Months later I got that photo and a bunch of others published in that Japanese Porsche magazine and I can see my sons foot in the reflection of a couple so that’s really cool to me.
Top of the list is an RWB, I can’t narrow it down but I’d love to do another shoot with multiple at once like I did in Vancouver with my buddies Sid and Dylan. It could be anywhere in the world and I would just be happy to be there. A very close second would be shooting an F40 in Japan, in the forest with a view of Mt Fuji is the dream. Thirdly, if I could have a chance to shoot the RWB R34 Skyline I would be absolutely thrilled to spend time with that gem.
We express our sincere thanks to Damian Forthun for sharing his perspectives and experiences in the realm of automotive photography. Damian's journey, driven by his profound passion and remarkable skills, is truly inspirational and rich with meaningful lessons. His distinctive talent in capturing the beauty and essence of automobiles is outstanding. We deeply value the expertise and knowledge he has imparted regarding his art, and we eagerly anticipate observing his ongoing achievements and impact in the world of automotive photography.
Check out more of Damian'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!