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How to turn a car interior into a piece of art

Volvo Cars has done something rather unusual. They have turned a car interior into a sculpture; a piece of art.

The accompanying images were taken in the Volvo Cars Photo Studio by photographer and designer Petter Borg with a Hasselblad H5D-50c medium format camera. Petter himself was captured in the creative process by art photographer Pontus Arvåsen.

The result is a tasteful and artistic exploration of creativity and what interior design is all about for Volvo Cars, the premium Scandinavian car maker.VolvoInteriorConcept_bwWe caught up with Petter to find out what approach he took to shooting this extraordinary sculpture.

Q: Can we get more about the creative process behind the images?
A: I wanted to capture the feeling in the shape rather than to describe it. To focus on the beauty that can hide in good design. More like the way a photographer would approach architecture rather than traditional car photography, where description and function weighs against feeling. With these images, the aim was set entirely on feeling. I was inspired by Haute Couture and fashion photography where images evoke more emotions than the actual garments elicit.VolvoInteriorConcept-6Q: How were the images taken?
A: The thought was to interpret the design through the eye of a designer, rather than the eye of a photographer. This approach provided a more revealing examination of the form language, bringing the design work and the portraiture together.Rear_Shape_v02The images were taken in Volvo’s photo studio over two days. They are created by two kinds of lighting effects, direct lighting, with a 3x9m softbox, and an indirect lighting where walls and reflectors designed the shapes. The combination results in sharp contours and soft shapes. I had Peter Eile and Tobias Leo assisting me I the photo studio.Hood_Detail_v01Q: What were the main challenges?
A: A major challenge was to choose which forms and elements best reflected the shape. I strove towards a minimalist expression where few selected elements could tell more than the whole. I wanted to give the viewer just enough information to be able to “see the shapes in their head” to make the pictures more interesting. A metaphor would be how a horror film can be the most gripping when you can’t see the monster and you are forced to imagine your own worst nightmare.Side View v01We also had the physical challenge of not actually being able to move the sculpture, as it was so fragile and weighed as much as a small car. So unlike normal studio photography everything had to be moved around the object, rather than the other way around.  All angles demanded unique lighting and creative solutions, as the walls in the studio did not cover everything that appeared in the reflections.VolvoInteriorConcept-9Q: What are the benefits you see using medium format for product photography?
A: To have 16 bit raw files to work with gives precise control of the tones when developing black and white images is very satisfying. To be able to cover an entire tonal range, from total black to sharp reflex, and have the ability to develop the area that was of greatest interest with just the dynamics I desired, gives the images an extra dimension.Rear_Profile_v01Q: How did using a H5D-50c contribute to the resulting images?
A: The reliable, precise focus and overall control that the H5 delivers in tandem with the computer gave me an unmatched overview. Also, working with custom-made templates created in Phocus made it possible to review visual feedback early in the process. As each images was created using 10-40 exposures, this ability to select the most evocative shots as I worked was a huge help.VolvoInteriorConcept-8Q: How do you see the connection between Volvo and Hasselblad?
A: There are many similarities. We focus on quality, high-end products that capture the essence of Scandinavian Design. We are both global brands that reflect the needs and desires of our customers in clear and uncomplicated manner. And I think we use technology in a similar way – to make life better.

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