I came across Jonathan Oppenheim (@jonathanboppenheim) while browsing on Instagram and was instantly impressed with his versatility as a photographer. Whether it’s a black and white picture, an outdoor scene or a Motorsport action shot, Jonathan delivers. His pictures are eye-catching, charismatic and dynamic.
In this interview, I got the chance to find out how Jonathan got into photography, what it’s like to own a 1990 BMW e30 and how he finds shoot locations. Enjoy!
How long have you been a fan of cars?
I have been a fan of cars since I was a young child, starting with hot wheels and working my way up through Gran Turismo 2 for PlayStation.
How did you first get into car photography?
I first got into car photography after going to university in south Georgia. I was inspired to photograph the architecture of the small coastal town of Brunswick. Around the same time I was hanging around with the local car clubs and things just fell into place.
I visited your website and read that some of your work has been displayed at galleries and featured in books. Tell me about some of your proudest moments as a photographer?
One of my proudest moments as a photographer came a few summers ago. I was visiting family in Massachusetts and one of my favorite automotive photographers started to follow me on Instagram. It blew my mind. More recently, a proud moment came when I was selected to be the key note speaker at the coastal empire region of Porsche Club of America. I spoke of the process of my work, story telling through imagery, and gave an interactive lighting demonstration using hot wheels cars and key chain LED flash lights. It was a hit.
What is it like owning a 1990 BMW e30?
Owning a 1990 BMW e30 is an emotional roller coaster. The presence of the early model 3 series draws a lot of attention and is an absolute pleasure to drive, but with any older vehicle, keeping up with maintenance becomes a chore of passion.
Something that stands out to me when looking at your work is how versatile you are as a photographer. For example, one picture will have a dark, moody vibe and the next will be bright and vibrant. Do you think it’s important to be flexible as a photographer and not lock yourself into one particular style?
Absolutely. It is incredibly important to be flexible as a photographer, especially in the beginning. There are few photographers who specialize in one area of photography and are successful. Those who do succeed do so because they are the best in their field. Be willing to try all types of photography while you hone your speciality.
What is your process for finding/scouting shoot locations?
My process for finding locations varies widely. Some shoots require a set location, especially for events, weddings, etc. In those cases I look for compositions and unique perspectives. When I have more versatility, I go search for interesting locations, ask people familiar with the area, or design photos that don’t need specific locations.
What made you decide to start an Instagram account dedicated to photography?
I started an Instagram account for photography to highlight my work and attract an audience that enjoys work I produce. I’ve found that having the account has also helped make new friends and professional contacts.
Do you ever just go out car spotting or do you only really work on arranged shoots?
Car spotting was a major contributor to my Instagram in the beginning, and on occasion you may find my card on your windshield if your car jumps out at me.
What photography equipment and editing software do you like to use?
My current equipment includes Canon full frame body, a combination of pro level and third party lenses, and some special equipment for magic making. Editing is done exclusively through Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.
What piece of advice would you give to anyone out there thinking about becoming a professional car photographer?
My advice to anyone thinking about becoming a car photographer is to have confidence in your work, but be humble. Shoot your butt off, and always be open to learning. Additionally, always bring long clothing for evening shoots (bugs) and a detail rag can go a long way.
Who is your favourite photographer?
Tim Wallace continues to inspire me to push my limits and creative boundaries.
Name a few of your favourite Instagram car photography accounts?
Lastly, where can people find out more about you and your photography?
I would like to thank Jonathan for taking the time to speak with me. Be sure to check out his website/Instagram page and give him a follow!