Like many photographers, Kevin Gray has lived and traveled many corners of this large planet of ours, but it was in his native California where he fell in love with the automobile, a love that became manifest in his book American Cars.
Petrolicious has been fortunate to take him away from both his busy, commercial schedule and his family for a short interview.
Q: What is your occupation?
A: Commercial photographer.
Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1968 Camaro beater, straight six my father bought me for $1000 in Santa Cruz, California.
Q: How did you find a love for cars?
A: Not long after I got my Camaro, my father laid down a challenge: “When are you gonna put a real engine in that thing?” What I didn’t know then is that he wanted to get his hands dirty again. He raced cars before the responsibility of family came along, and, in fact, revived his love of racing and continues to race Midgets today.
Q: What is the name of your photo book?
A: American Cars.
Q: What are the origins of the American Cars project?
A: At the time, I was assisting photographers on automotive shoots, and though I loved these jobs, I felt there was an underrepresented population of cars that weren’t meticulously lit or placed in an ideal setting with a model or two. These were cars with a history. These were cars that were left when the models and the ideal settings had gone away. These were cars that had seen the test of time.
Q: Why American cars?
A: At first, I shot vehicles around Venice, California, where I lived: American cars, Europeans cars, and Japanese cars. Later, I narrowed it down to the Americans; I liked the rectangular shape of hood, windshield, roof, back window and trunk.
Q: How did the background architecture come into play in your photos?
A: As the project progressed, I found it important that the background architecture further define the car, giving it greater context.
Q: What is your favorite American car?
A: I think my favorite American car would be the 1965 Buick Riviera. It has luxury/comfort with muscle. The design is like nothing else, absolutely beautiful.
If you would like to see more pictures from American Cars or purchase the book, visit Gray at www.kevingrayphotography.com.