By day, Joachim Rayos is a mechanical engineer, but in his spare time, you can find him immersed in his other passions: automotive photography, cycling or posting to an automotive online community platform, DriveTribe. Rayos shoots both digitally and with film, but has always felt drawn to film photography. I got the chance to learn more about Rayos' passion for automotive photography and the community that surrounds it.
How did you get started in photography? What came first—your love of cars or your love for photography?
Joachim Rayos: Photography came first. I've been shooting on and off since I had my first “real” camera in school in the 1980s.
I understand that automotive photography is fairly a newer sector of photography that you’ve been interested in. What kinds of things did you shoot when you first began?
JR: Very typical vacation/travel and family pictures, but nothing I really published anywhere. One habit I had was to pack a camera during a business trip and find time to stroll around a new place. That's definitely something I miss these days.
Have you always been interested in cars? What was your first car? First camera?
JR: As a mechanical engineer I've always been fascinated with all things transportation and their history—the whole train, planes and automobiles spectrum. An ideal trip for me would be to a transportation museum—I had a chance to visit the Brooklands Museum outside London a few years ago, and I was just a kid in a candy store. I spent 2 days marveling at the displays.
I learned to drive in a giant Ford Galaxy 500 which was a massive tank, and I've steered towards Volkswagens for our late-model cars. My first cameras were from Mom and Dad - a Pentax ME Super; then a Nikon FA. I remember they were advanced for the time, buttons and matrix metering were something new!
Do you prefer shooting automobiles that are parked or in motion? What changes in your approach to shooting still vehicles vs. vehicles that are being driven?
JR: I much prefer shooting parked cars and taking time to pick out details, but at the same time getting that delicious blur of something in motion is beautiful when you nail it. I use different equipment for each: I reach for my manual focus cameras for the static shots; my Fuji X-system for motion and speed.
Do you have a favorite environment to shoot in? A favorite type of vehicle to shoot?
JR: Hands down I love older classic cars in their element—whether in a vintage race, a brick side street or a winding road out in the country. The Goodwood Members' Meeting one of my favorites!
Do you have any tips for anyone who wants to get into automotive photography?
JR: Just dive in and find out what you love about cars, experiment and develop your style. Take inspiration from the top shooters in the segment—there's so much media out there and lots of advice at the end of a mouse click.
Do you prefer shooting with film or digitally? What factors play a role when choosing one over the other? Do you prefer 35mm or 120mm film?
JR: I'm a bit biased and say film, but there is no denying the speed, convenience and creativity that a digital workflow allows. It largely depends on the pace of the subject or event—something that allows me the time to shoot will be film, something fast-paced or with little room for error, it's digital. I'll quote House Industries (a graphic design firm) who say, "he Process is the inspiration," and this is most true when I shoot film. I discovered the joys of shooting a Hasselblad 500CM medium format camera fairly recently and with 12 opportunities a roll, every shot is a very deliberate action.
Tell me more about your involvement with the automotive online community platform, DriveTribe.
JR: That was a happy set of circumstances. In September 2016 my wife and I took a road trip from upstate New York to Toronto, with a stop through the Watkins Glen vintage races. Around that time the (in)famous Top Gear trio of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May were launching DriveTribe which was their vision of a car-centric community on the web. Fast forward to the Thanksgiving weekend, and I put up a themed “tribe” of dashboard pictures from the Watkins Glen races which got picked up and gained quite a bit of steam. The following February I got invited to an appreciation party for the creatives who were there at the launch. My wife generously let me travel to London by myself to basically go to a party in west London and hang out. They say never meet your heroes, but I couldn't have been happier to meet them and other people from the staff and fellow writers and photographers. This whole sequence of events really made me dive more into automotive.
I understand you're also an active cyclist in Austin. Does this passion play a role in your photography too?
JR: In a sense, bicycle racing is akin to shooting motorsport. You have the same interesting play of equipment and the human element which would be beautiful to capture. One of these years I'd love to take a tour to Belgium, ride the roads and shoot the racing, especially the Spring Classics. And riding the farm roads outside Austin, I've realized that I need to bring my camera more when out riding—there are some beautiful roads not just west towards the Hill Country, but also out east in between the major highways like 290 and 71.
What are your go-to pieces of equipment?
I find the Fuji X-system to be a solid piece of kit to build a system from. The lenses are fast and compact; the bodies (I currently have an X-H1) are built solidly too. The other cameras I have in rotation which impart more personality image-wise are an older Leica M240 which I use with Zeiss and Voigtlander lenses; and honestly the Hasselblad 500CM with its normal Zeiss 80/2.8 is very versatile. I need to highlight and thank Precision as both a great source of gear and advice!
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
Sadly traveling and slipping in events in the itinerary isn't much of an option for now. But hopefully this eases some in the coming year, even with events in and around Austin. I've recently gotten into a 20-year old Porsche 911 and that's sort of the project for now which should show up more and more in my photos.
Anyway, here’s a set from the Handbuilt Motorcycle Show in Austin and a set from the Goodwood Members Meeting in Chichester, UK that I would really love to revisit when possible and I personally love shooting in this style. Different film stock but both on 120 with the Hasselblad.