David Westphal’s passion for landscape photography developed at a young age. He parlayed his love of epic vistas into a commercial career in automotive photography. David’s approach to his medium is what makes working with him so special; clients not only walk away with stellar imagery, but a collaborative experience that makes all the hard work leading up to the shoot worth it. David views each new project, whether commercial or personal, as an opportunity for growth as an artist and as person. Without further ado, we welcome you to step inside the mind of David Westphal.
Q: When did you discover your passion for landscape photography?
A: I discovered my passion for landscape when I was 10. We lived abroad and I got to travel to some pretty amazing places. I always took pictures. I also loved the postcards and tried to find where those spots were so I could take my own postcard.
Q: Do you have any mentors or photographers that inspired you?
A. Alfred Stieglitz is my biggest influence. He transformed photography from a truth telling medium to an expressive art form. He proved that photography does capture moments in time and those moments could be art. Harry Callahan had the most incredible eye of modern photography. His street photography in Chicago would still be relevant in this day and age. I also had this really amazing professor in College who taught me about a lot about photography. Well, not photographer per se, but about knowing and not knowing and discovering what one knows and doesn’t know.
Q: Do you have a favorite landscape image you have shot?
A. I have an image from Iceland that’s been on either my website or in my portfolio for the past 7 years.
Q: Tell us about your recent shoot at Olympic Peninsula.
A. I went to the Olympic Peninsula so that I could get some fresh air. Clear my head and re-center myself. There’s no better way than exploring a new place and discover what it has to offer me both visually and spiritually. It was extremely brief but gave me enough to get me going for the rest of the year. What I have been exploring in my recent personal work is the idea of how light falls, especially at the end of the day when the sun is no longer up and also when the sun has to break through the canopy of the forest or through the clouds to reach the surface. I am exploring the shadow details both technically and artistically. It’s a nuanced exploration that wouldn’t hit you over the head but lurks in the imagery of my work and has a place right now closer to the back but once fully explored will find it’s way to the front of my work. Maybe in a couple of years.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world to photograph a beautiful landscape where would it be?
A. There are so many places I would love to travel; it’s hard to pinpoint one. I would love to go to Tibet both for the images and the journey. I have to start thinking about traveling with my son now, so as I think about the places I want to go, I think about how he would experience these places with me. In just a few years, I am going to share these experiences with him.
Q. How does your landscape photography inform your car photography?
A: I think that with car photography, you have to find out what the brand wants to say about the vehicle. What’s the story they are trying to tell? Then it’s about finding a location that helps to tell that story whether it’s in a remote forest on a dirt road or in the middle of a big city. There are visual clues within locations that help to tell the story so it is a matter of finding the right one.The most important part of the image is the scope of the landscape that the car sits within. Lensing, time of day, angle into the scene, how the different elements within the image relate to one another to lead the viewer through the image and to the car while hitting those visual cues to tell a story.
Q: What was your favorite car project thus far?
A. My favorite car shoot thus far has to be the Ford Explorer shoot last year. I worked with an amazing Creative Director and had a really great post-production team to finish the images. The finals reflect what I would call the perfect team.
Q: If you could drive any car in the world, what would it be?
A. Porsche 911 Carrera. Prefer Targa GTS.