Great American Cars: Photographic History

A Photographic Investigation into The Decline of the US Motor Industry

Recalling the iconic lines, shapes and vibrant colours of American made cars from the early 1960s to late 1980s, Italian-born photographer and videographer, Stefano Galli’s ongoing series, Cars, aims to investigate their slow disappearance in modern society.

Stefano’s series reminds us of the country’s once great motor industry, in what was likewise regarded as a ‘great’ American era.

“Cars” definitely started accidentally. One day I photographed the side of a car with a huge dent. The shape and composition of that image really struck me and became the starting point of this project leading me to focus on vintage vehicles, their details and oddities. That photo was shot on Sunset Blvd, right next to where I live.

The European photographer has not been short of inspiration and ideas since moving to America three years ago. Aside from his commercial work (for the likes of Dazed and Confused, Flaunt, Vivienne Westwood and American Apparel, among others), Stefano is currently working on three America-inspired, ongoing, personal series: Landscapes, a study on icons and signs, and Portraits, a series of images of random encounters and strangers together.

The Plus: Tell us a little bit about your photography style.
Stefano Galli:
In “Cars” I’m documenting a scene that is disappearing. I do it with the use of a camera that allows me to have very sharp and detailed images with a very deep depth of field, creating accurate and truthful photos.
In general, my style is very honest and intimate. I observe and get very close to my subjects. In post production I barely manipulate my negatives. I don’t crop them and I keep the colours as authentic as possible. There’s no need to modify images, what interests me is the truth.

TP: How did you select which cars you would feature, and where did you get them from?
“Cars” is a series of pictures representing American made vehicles only, made between the early ’60’s and late 80’s. The early pictures of the projects are taken on the streets of L.A., which I walk around in a lot. Back alleys, garages, parking lots, private properties.  Now I often drive to isolated villages outside the Los Angeles County Area. Rural towns by the Mojave Desert and Salton Sea are destinations where I always end up finding interesting material. Even though I keep going back to these places on a weekly base, I’ve started pushing my self further and further away.

TP: What differences do you find in America and Europe when practising your craft?
Generally speaking, Americans are pretty friendly and almost no one I’ve meet here objects to being photographed which makes my “practice” easier; while I’ve found Europeans to be often “suspicious” and hard to get in front of the camera. Back in Europe I was more into portraiture, I still am, especially with my editorial works, but since I moved to the States I started focusing and photographing things, places and landscapes that surround my every day life.

Stefano’s work, Cars, will be exhibited at Building Bridges Art Exchange in Santa Monica, US, from 18th Dec – Jan 10th 2015.