December 19, 2023
TCN Interviews Sebastian Miller
Join us for an intriguing interview with Sebastian Miller, a passionate automotive photographer from Calgary, Alberta. Discover his unique path into the realm of car photography, learn from his valuable experiences, and deepen your appreciation for this thrilling and constantly changing field.

Today, we're excited to sit down with Sebastian Miller, a photographer from Calgary, Alberta, whose journey into automotive photography began with a serendipitous trip to the Frankfurt Auto Show in 2019. Armed with a new camera initially intended for travel photos, Sebastian found himself captivated by the Lamborghini Sian unveiling. His experience navigating the challenges of photographing this dynamic car on a rotating display with his modest camera marked a pivotal moment, sparking a deep-seated passion for capturing the artistry of automobiles.

Lamborghini Huracan STO
Lamborghini Huracan STO Photographed by Sebastian Miller

TCN X Sebastian Miller

In our interview, we'll explore Sebastian Miller's unique perspective on automotive photography. We're eager to learn about his approach to integrating technical precision with artistic flair in his images. What inspires the beginning of his new ventures, and what hurdles does he navigate in the specialized field of luxury car photography? Sebastian will discuss his creative methodology and offer valuable insights for those aiming to establish themselves in the realm of automotive photography.

To view Sebastian Miller's impressive collection of work, be sure to visit his Instagram page.

Sebastian Miller Instagram screenshot.

TCN X Sebastian Miller Interview

1. "Can you share with us how you first got interested in automotive photography? What was the first car you photographed that made you think, 'This is it, this is what I want to do'?"

So my automotive photography journey started when I first bought a camera for my trip to Frankfurt for the Frankfurt Auto Show back in 2019. I had originally bought the camera to take photos of my trip and decided to give it a shot at the show as well. I remember very well, seeing the Lamborghini Sian unveiling live. I knew I had to get photos of this crazy new Lamborghini. I started messing around with angles as much as possible from a distance. This did pose a problem because the car was on a rotating display, but I made it work. I shot with a few other cars during that week, some were more up close so I was able to really get a good look at these cars and have fun with the angles. Going to this auto show and messing around with my cheap camera quickly made me realize that I actually really enjoyed this hobby.

Lamborghini Sian
Lamborghini Sian Photographed by Sebastian Miller

The excitement of going back to my Airbnb and editing the photos was always a feeling I remember about the trip. This trip did produce one of my all time favorite shots, as it looked like something a professional news page would post.

Lamborghini Huracan
Lamborghini Huracan Photographed by Sebastian Miller

My first time doing my “Fine Art” style of photos was back in 2021. I had just bought a light want and a couple buddies wanted to go for a quick shoot in their Huracan and GT3RS. We went downtown and I got to experiment with the lighting and messing with it as much as I wanted.

Lamborghini Huracan and Porsche GT3 RS
Lamborghini Huracan and Porsche GT3 RS Photographed by Sebastian Miller

Porsche GT3 RS
Porsche GT3 RS Photographed by Sebastian Miller
2. "In your opinion, what makes a great automotive photo stand out? Are there specific angles, lighting conditions, or environments that you think work best? How would you describe your photography style currently?"

In my opinion, the best automotive photos that grab my attention usually have some amazing lighting and composition. When I am scrolling on Instagram, a bright and well composed photo will catch my attention more than a dark, moody one. In terms of my style, I would say that I currently edit my photos to look as “realistic” as possible. I personally do not like to do crazy edits that make the photo look unnatural. I try to stick with basic adjustments and maybe some color grading if it will benefit the image. I also like to add linear and circular masking to make the ground and sky just slightly darker. This brings attention to the subject without doing some crazy saturation. 

Ferrari Enzo
Ferrari Enzo Photographed by Sebastian Miller

Koenigsegg CCR
Koenigsegg CCR Photographed by Sebastian Miller

Pagani Zonda R
Pagani Zonda R Photographed by Sebastian Miller

Koenigsegg CC8 50
Koenigsegg CC8 50 Photographed by Sebastian Miller
3. "What has been your most challenging photo shoot and why? Were there any unexpected obstacles or memorable moments?"

The most challenging photoshoot I have been on has to be when I went off-roading with 2 Tacoma's. I found this shoot challenging because I was not used to shooting with off road trucks, as well, I do not ever shoot out in nature like I had to in this shoot. These were two different types of challenges, which made me rethink what angles I had to shoot with for these trucks. This was tough but it came out with some more of my favorite photos I have taken, as well as a fun day out on these off road trails. This is just my most challenging normal photoshoot. 

Toyota Tacoma
Toyota Tacoma Photographed by Sebastian Miller

Toyota Tacoma
Toyota Tacoma Photographed by Sebastian Miller

Toyota Tacoma
Toyota Tacoma Photographed by Sebastian Miller

My most challenging photoshoot for my Fine Art style would be when I would shoot at the local Cars And Coffee. I would be determined to shoot at these events even when the sun was shining very bright. This made it tough at the beginning to get good photos. I have 2 photos of the same car's interior. One of them was taken at Cars and Coffee, while the other was taken in a controlled lighting environment. This just shows how difficult it can be to shoot with a strobe light during the daylight hours.

Ford GT
Ford GT Photographed by Sebastian Miller

Ford GT
Ford GT Photographed by Sebastian Miller
4. "Camera aside, is there a specific piece of gear you can’t live without?”

I don’t leave my house to shoot unless I have my CPL on my camera. I feel that this is absolutely essential to getting photos that set you out from the phone photographers. Circular Polarizers are amazing for how much better they can make the photo for such a low cost. I usually also try to not forget my “nifty fifty” camera lens. It is such a great lens for details and compressed full car shots. Recently I have also been bringing my external mic just to get some sound recordings of the car as well.

Ferrari F40 and F50
Ferrari F40 and F50 Photographed by Sebastian Miller

For my Fine Art photos, I need to have my strobe light, camera, tripod, phone and remote trigger for the light. I am unable to shoot that style of photos without just one of those critical components. 

McLaren F1
McLaren F1 Photographed by Sebastian Miller
5. "In an industry that's always evolving, how do you keep your work innovative and maintain a unique edge?”

In this industry, it is always evolving, and I have realized that it is also very saturated. In the age where everyone has a cellphone that can take stunning photos, professional photographers have to bring something different to the table. It is not anymore about just getting amazing photos, now it is about the edits and using the absolute most out of your camera as possible. I believe that my unique style with my Fine Art photos really bring something different to the automotive photography scene. These are photos that you can hang up in your garage as wall art, or even in your office. It brings professional photography forward into more mainstream media. This is my unique edge, however, this is also a very time consuming style and takes a while to get good at and you will never really master it as it is always evolving.

Koenigsegg Regera
Koenigsegg Regera Photographed by Sebastian Miller
6. “Do you find there is a competitive element to automotive photography or do you see it as more collaborative?”

With the amount of car photographers there are, there is a competitive nature to it. I believe that two photographers collaborating on a shoot, they will both only benefit from it. As the industry as a whole, it is very competitive. We are always trying to be the first person to shoot with a new local car or even just getting the best photos of another car. One photoshoot that comes to mind is when I did a shoot with a friend when he first picked up his Lamborghini Aventador S. I had shot with the car and at the time, there were already multiple people who had shot with it before and multiple people in line to shoot with it after.

Lamborghini Aventador S
Lamborghini Aventador S Photographed by Sebastian Miller

The unfortunate thing about this is that it brings no value if you do not have a certain skill over the other photographers. This is why so many photographers do not like the scene and find it tough, they do not have a special skill that sets them apart from everyone else. If there are 20 photographers messaging someone when they pick up a new Ferrari, Porsche, or Lamborghini, you have to be the one that stands out and offers them something different from everyone else. If two photographers can work together to learn from each other then they will both grow twice as quick. I have worked with other photographers many times on a shoot. They would have a shot idea and that would stick with me for my next shoots. I believe that it can be both, however, it is mainly very competitive and people like to gatekeep their photo ideas, locations, settings, etc. 

7. "Looking back at your career so far, what advice would you give to your younger self when you were just starting?"

When I was just starting into photography, I was loving every step of the process. I would go out and shoot as often as I could. This did lead to feeling burnt out and mentally exhausted after just one summer. I did this for a couple years, thinking that this is how you make it big. I would tell my younger self to slow down and shoot what I want to shoot, not what I feel like I have to shoot. This is how I operate now and I no longer feel inclined to agree to a photoshoot because I need content. I also would tell my younger self that it is okay to ask for payment when your skills are worth something.

Porsche 964 RWB
Porsche 964 RWB Photographed by Sebastian Miller

This took me too long to realize. Looking back, I would have valued my work more if I did not do every shoot for free, but instead took my time and asked for a bit of money where it was deserved. I would also tell my younger self to take more risks in asking people to shoot. I was too scared to ask some people to shoot because their cars were fancy and I did not believe in my own photography skills. 

8. “Do you have a favorite photo? Either one you’ve taken yourself or one taken by someone else? If so can you tell us about what makes that photo so special?”

I would say that picking a favorite normal photo is too hard. There are so many amazing photos and very talented photographers out there. I do not think I can pick a favorite photo, but I can pick my favorite automotive photographer. I will say that for normal photos, Zach Brehl is my favorite photographer. All of his photos have such an amazing color and composition to them. 

I do have a favorite photo from my Fine Art collection though. This is a recent shoot and I was able to explore new techniques in the editing portion. This classic 911 just looks amazing in this style. When paired with another photo for my Instagram feed, it just gets even better. You can see all of the colors of the exterior as well as the brown leather of the interior. This would be my favorite photo I have taken to date.

Porsche 930
Porsche 930 Photographed by Sebastian Miller
9. "Finally, if you could have a dream photo shoot of your dream garage with any three cars from any era, which cars would you choose?”

The age old question for car lovers, If you can pick three cars, what would you pick? This is a very tough question to answer for almost every car enthusiast. I could give you an answer today and it might be different from the one I give you next week. However, I have been thinking about this recently and I think my dream three car garage to own a shoot with would include a green Pagani Zonda Cinque, a silver Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita and an orange McLaren F1 LM. This would be a legendary garage and would photograph very well as well. I will kind of cheat this question though as I also am really into modern track cars. My perfect track car photoshoot and garage would include a blue Bugatti Bolide, a yellow Aston Martin Valkyrie and a Lamborghini Sesto Elemento. I know this is two garages, and if I had to pick one of them it would be the first one I mentioned. 

Koenigsegg CCR
Koenigsegg CCR Photographed by Sebastian Miller

Wrapping Up

We're thankful to Sebastian Miller for opening up about his adventures in automotive photography. His path, fueled by deep enthusiasm and impressive talent, is truly inspiring and rich with valuable insights. Sebastian's capability to capture the spirit and allure of cars is exceptional. We appreciate the wisdom he has shared regarding his craft and eagerly anticipate his future contributions as he continues to carve a distinctive path in the world of automotive photography.

Get Your Hands on The TCN App

Check out more of Sebastian'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!

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