Cars on Film: Tim Damon Knows How to Make Cars Sexy
Self-proclaimed car junkie turned his passion into a profession as one of the auto industry’s most in-demand photographers.
Top automotive photographer Tim Damon is a self-proclaimed car junkie. According to a piece in Car And Driver, Damon owns a fogged Aston Martin, a 1966 Lincoln Continental, a Porsche Cayenne, a 1967 Pontiac Grand Prix convertible, and, just for kicks, a 730-hp Lingenfelter prepped Cadillac CTS-V. “I just love cars,” he unapologetically tells the magazine.
That fact is apparent in the stellar print and video ads for the various vehicles he has shot over the years, which can be seen on his website, TimDamon.com. A tough Ford taking on field and stream. A baby-blue Corvette ready for the racetrack. A shiny black Audi strolling down a country road. A Toyota truck lurking in the forest. A Mercedes with its gullwing doors ready to fly. A Gulfstream N502GV waiting for sunrise. Yes, Damon also shoots planes. He photographs people too, but somehow, to us fellow car junkies, they’re not quite as captivating as a gorgeous shot of a sleek Lexus cruising down the freeway.
In fact, despite all of the enviable rides that have passed before Damon’s camera, it’s Lexus vehicles that seem to shine the brightest in his vast portfolio of print and video shoots. Damon has captured the brand’s most popular vehicles in countless gorgeous settings and in all four seasons. He has crafted exquisite photos of Lexus sedans treading snowy roadways and video clips that expertly show off the power and performance of the Japanese automaker’s crown jewels.
‘At the end of the day, I’ll go back and look at what we shot
and I still get goose bumps. I love what I do.’
One of Damon’s most recent location shoots for Lexus immediately went viral earlier this month when the company released its “Lane Valet” video on April 1. The high-style ad directed by Damon for Square Planet Media was so well done that Lexus’ April Fool’s Day clip about a non-existent new feature that allows Lexus drivers to control other drivers’ vehicles managed to effortlessly fool the masses. However, this viral video is just a hint of the unlimited potential that is yet to come from the most in-demand photographer in the business.
“When you want to make a great car commercial, you go to a great car director like Tim Damon,” Craig Crawford, the production team’s creative director, tells Shoot Online about the April Fool’s Day TV ad.
Detroit native Damon’s main studio is located in Southern California at Stage 20, a specially-designed facility for producing world-class vehicle photography that is located just outside of Hollywood. However, when it comes to Damon’s preferred vehicle, Lexus takes a back seat to another popular brand, and that’s only because in some circumstances, the photographer needs more than just a smooth ride. One of his main company cars is Ford’s massive F-150 SVT Raptor, which required a few modifications — like the roof-mounted camera crane — to become one of the celebrated photographer’s main tools in shooting his ads.
‘I’m wondering why I should be sitting in a raggedy piece of sh-t with a million dollars of camera equipment mounted to it. Immediately, I saw an opportunity to get into the biz and build some cars that were relevant to the technology we were using.’
When Damon, who grew up in the film and advertising business, arrived in Los Angeles a couple of decades ago and began to transition from print to live-action video work, he told Car and Driver that he was dumbfounded by the lack of quality camera cars in the industry.
“These guys would be running a tired car with 200,000 miles on it, and I’m wondering why I should be sitting in a raggedy piece of sh-t with a million dollars of camera equipment mounted to it,” he tells the magazine. “Immediately, I saw an opportunity to get into the biz and build some cars that were relevant to the technology we were using all day long.”
As of 2015, Damon’s current tool/camera car of choice is a 2011 Porsche Cayenne Turbo sporting a Russian Arm 6 with a 25-foot reach from the turret to the camera.
“I often say if Leonardo da Vinci were alive today, he’d be experimenting with a camera car,” Damon tells Source Creative. “The things you can do with them are so cool. There’s so much excitement in the way you can get the light to dance on the car. When you do a move with that arm, it’s magical. At the end of the day, I’ll go back and look at what we shot and I still get goose bumps. I love what I do.”
Check out Damon’s fast and furiously-cool portfolio reel below.