Q&A with auto photographer and founder of Degler Studios
If top quality cars & striking photography have anything in common, IT'S THE ABILIT TO TRANSPORT YOU TO WORLDS YOU'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE.
Naturally, this is how longtime car lover and skilled photographer Piotr Degler paved his path to combining his personal interest and professional talent into the perfect career: capturing impactful footage of one-of-a-kind vehicles.
Degler was born in Spain and raised among innovative creatives who thrived in fields from music to architecture. The upbringing primed Degler for a life of creation, and his personal affinity for cars pushed him to pursue an education in auto design that brought him to the Italian company Bertone. Here, in a global mecca of car design, Degler was empowered to combine his love for cars with his passion for photography. And just like that, Degler Studio was born.
The ever-growing list of Degler's clients just gets more and more captivating for any car enthusiast, from luxe BMW to timeless Ferrari. And you can ride along the journey of how the designer & photographer got there by scrolling to our one-on-one chat below.
When did you understand that your eye for photography should be focused on expressing the most artful side of automobiles?
I started working in Spain as a car photographer for some editorials when I was 18. When I turned 20, I moved to Italy to study car design and ended up working as a designer in Bertone. It was probably there where my photography became more influenced by car design. Now, I work full time as a photographer focused mainly on the automotive sector.
That leads us to Carros de Cuba, a project that brings classic models & their relationship with culture + human contact to light. Tell us about the inspiration behind these images.
Carros de Cuba is a personal project which hasn’t much to do with my daily work. Usually, my photography has a commercial feeling, as my images need to help sell a car or show the world a new car concept that has just been unveiled, so everything needs to be very clean and precise. Carros de Cuba was the opposite, it’s a documental/reportage project in which nothing was staged specifically for the occasion, everything happened by chance. Seeing Cuba’s cars has been a dream of mine since I was a kid, as there is no other place in the world where you can see so many classic cars still active on the road. It feels almost like traveling in time.
I traveled the whole Island from Viñales to Santiago de Cuba for one month looking for the most interesting cars and moments. In 2016, I published the book Carros de Cuba featuring 222 full-color images, which is my tribute to those cars that have survived over half a century on the island thanks to the innovation of the Cuban people.
Since we’re talking about people, how important is it for your photography to provoke as much amazement for these beautiful cars as they would receive when seen live?
This is something that usually happens with concept cars. Since they are produced only as a one-off, most people won’t be able to see them in real life unless they visit some very specific car events. This context makes these images very precious. I try to portray the cars in the best way I can, choosing the best perspectives and using light to enhance the design elements which are innovative or specific to each model. I try to look at the car through the eyes of its creator.
In your portfolio, some of the pictures that really spoke to us were the close-ups of leather interiors. What attracts you the most about photographing the perfection of those intricate details?
Concept cars / showcars usually use premium materials in their interiors. Most of them are handcrafted in Italy and I shoot them when they are brand new, so it is always a pleasure to see that attention to detail up-close. When photographing an interior, the position of the light source is fundamental. It is important to show the texture of the leather and the volume of the surfaces even in the details. I like to use a smooth light and play with composition.
From your experience in the industry, how do you think leather interiors in electric cars can be associated with innovative solutions for a more sustainable outcome?
I guess probably seeing the interior as a whole element. Trying to reduce plastic materials and introducing more recycled ones. Mixing leather with different natural fabrics. Once we have electric cars everywhere I think the next trend will be to make them the more eco-friendly and as ethically produced as possible.
Now, having big players as clients makes you an industry insider. From the prototypes & new designs you’ve been seeing, what would you say the future of automotive is?
The main future of automotive will be electric and sustainable. However, we will always have classic cars to enjoy the gasoline engine sound and their traditional driving experience.
If you could choose any of the '70s supercars to bring back, which would it be?
If I could pick one supercar from the '70s I would probably choose the 1970 Lancia Stratos Zero concept car designed by Marcello Gandini in Bertone. This unique show car features a very futuristic design, not only in the exterior but also inside. This is one of the craziest and coolest Italian designs ever and I've been lucky enough to have captured it several times.
And what would you say your fave car of all time is?
I've had this question asked many times but it’s impossible to answer. I like many different types of cars…
As a kid, I was very obsessed with American iron and my dream car was a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado. The evolution in car design during the '50s in the States was crazy. Inspired by the space rockets era, each year’s models had bigger and more complex tailfins becoming almost a competition between designers Harley Earl and Virgil Exner, which culminated with the ’59 Cadillac ― which I consider a work of art.
That model will always have a special place in my heart as is often the case with childhood dreams, but I'm also very much into Italian cars. For a few years now I've been working on my new book, which will feature some of my favorite Italian cars and all of them have something special and different ― from those edgy designs from the late '60s/early '70s prototypes like the Alfa Romeo Carabo, Lancia Stratos Zero, Alfa Romeo Iguana, and Ferrari Modulo… to the quintessence of la Dolce Vita in production models like the Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider, Maserati A6GCS Bertlinetta... without forgetting the most recent supercars… Just too many to list!
Too many to list is right, but we can't wait to read your attempt, Degler.
& check out our attempt at capturing our endless faves thru [metcha originals].