I didn’t pass my driving test until my mid 20s (despite, as a teenager, having had the sort of interest in cars that teenage boys often have). It was then still a few years after passing my test before I finally got around to owning a car. My first car was a fairly standard original Mini which, after a year of ownership, I handed to a tuning company for some upgrades to give it a bit more poke. Following that I went owned a Mk1 MX-5, then a Lotus Elise, followed by a Lotus Europa S. The fairly consistent theme with all those was of cars which aren’t that practical but, in my opinion, are fun to drive and aesthetically pleasing. Eventually I decided that I wasn’t making enough use of the Europa S to justify the ownership cost/hassle and now have a relatively sensible car – an Alfa Romeo Mito (I did say “relatively”).
It was part way through my Elise ownership that I started to get into photography and also started to go to car meets/shows. I’ve never been greatly into chatting about cars, but photographing them was something I’ve enjoyed (although I’ve never done staged car shoots as I’m not very good at staging shots – just sticking to what I find at meets).
My interest in car photography isn’t as strong these days though – I think I’ve probably had my fill for the most part!
Less than 45 minutes drive away from home is the Brooklands Motor Museum near Weybridge. They regularly host car events there of various different types and sizes (ranging from modest car club meets, right up to the insanely busy Auto Italia event). With the sheer variety of event there I found myself going several times a year and ended up joining as a paying Brooklands Trust Member for a number of years – this meant I could get in for free for most events (and vastly reduced price for those that charge), which was nice as I could happily just pop along to the small events even if it may only be of interest for half an hour. One of my photos from an event was selected by the BTM magazine as a winning photo for the year of photos taken by visitors and posted to their social media, which was lovely.
Having been a Lotus owner I’ve also been a member of SELOC for a number of years. A regular local-ish event is the monthly Newlands Corner meet, which I’ve often attended and usually take a number of photos at. With having owned a couple of different Lotuses and also attending a lot of the car meets I’ve photographed each Lotus model quite a few times so it becomes a challenge to try capture something that feels new/fresh as time goes on. I’ve also gone along to a few other Lotus events, including The Lotus Forums national meet, and a couple of Lotus Europa S/SE owners meets. Although it’s now been a few years since I sold my Europa S and switched to the Alfa Mito I still pop along a few times a year to the SELOC/TLF Newlands Corner meet to catch up with some familiar faces (and take a few snaps).
The Pistonheads online forum tends to organise regular meets at car-related locations around the country (such as motor museums, manufacturer HQs, etc) so I’ve gone along to a number of those over the years. It’s a good chance to see, and photograph, a good variety of cars (both rare and not-so-rare) owned by car enthusiasts as well as any cars provided by the location itself. For a while there were regular meets fairly locally at Virginia Water, although they were a victim of their success and became too popular for the venue to feel comfortable with.
This is a small classic and sports car show held in Thatcham most autumns to raise money for charity. It’s a delightfully informal show which always has a great turn out with a fantastic variety of cars, usually including at least a couple of rarities. While I was a Lotus owner I attended the show a few times over the years, both with my Elise and my Europa S, usually joining a few other Lotus owners for a small convoy from a nearby meeting point.
There are plenty of other shows I’ve attended over the years. Until they became a bit too insanely popular/busy I was regularly going to the Goodwood Breakfast Club meets, similarly the Wilton Classic/Supercar show. The Hambleden Classic/Sports car show has always been a lovely little charity show in picturesque surroundings.