Four of Auto Restorations skilled workforce wheel a custom body Delage Roadster into position in the carpark.

Informal portraiture in the workplace using available light


When shooting informal portraiture avoid distraction from the most important purpose—getting photographs. These photos were shot and photo composites produced 2009–2012, they offer a historical profile of Auto Restorations during that time soon after Allan Wylie stepped up from the Mechanical Shop floor to the role of General Manager. Pictures of their employees on their redesigned website, and capabilities brochure in print helped Auto Restorations transform from a faceless company to people that their customers can relate to. The highly specialised, high value personal service that Auto Restorations’ workforce offer to customers is an advantage that they have over large companies, their multiple international Concours D’Elegance awards attest to this. Good photos of their skilled workforce reinforce this.

Lineup of classic cars in carpark of Auto Restorations, Stewart Street Christchurch workshop.

Italy, the United States, France, and Australia are represented in this lineup of 20th century classic cars, from the current work in progress at Auto Restorations in September, 2009.

Whether shooting outdoors or indoors, consider using the flash to light the subject. If the available light is insufficient then you need to build up more light until the clearest and best photo is taken. This may involve bouncing flash light up off the ceiling or outdoor canopy. You shouldn’t see light in the final picture—you should see the subject.

Dropping to one knee and shooting up at your subject yields a heroic image.

Informal portrait of Allan Wylie, Auto Restorations’ manager leaning against his 1938 Ford roadster.

Visual anthropology: Work method documentary photography

Anthropology is the study of human societies and cultures and their development. So it follows that informal portraiture of people going about their tasks, such as these photos of Auto Restorations’ skilled workforce, is besides its marketing communications purpose, anthropology, which is a field that values good, factual photography more than beautiful pictures. In the classic sense the principle is that a moody shot of a mother holding a child will not work, while a picture of an entire family with all their belongings standing before a straw house has a great deal of information.

As an artist I have various goals in mind when I photograph people. I accentuate special characteristics and play with composition, graphic devices and graphic twists such as action in the frame.

As a documentary photographer with an anthropological bent I must capture visually readable, factual data. This assignment for Auto Restorations demonstrates both aspects of my photography.

Bob Sterling plies his skills precision fitting a new bespoke aluminium panel, that was fabricated in-house, onto a classic Ferrari restoration in the Panel Shop.

Des Ward disassembling panels on a classic Maserati restoration.

Bob Sterling and Andy Wiley go about their tasks in this wide view of the Panel Shop and Custom Coach Shop at Auto Restorations

Bob Sterling and Andy Wiley go about their tasks in the Auto Restorations panel shop.

Trying to understand people gives meaning to the world

Trying to understand people performing work tasks leads to understanding. I took these photographs to talk about and show these people as they were, getting as much information as I could without losing the viewer’s interest. I composed my pictures carefully and waited for special, revealing moments, sometimes shooting in continuous burst mode to capture just the right moment.

Tough shooting situations make war on my photographer’s senses. I must be thinking on several levels all at the same time.

Andy Wylie hand finishing the welding on the bespoke space frame of a 1953 Barchetta recreation “kit” car, in the Custom Coachwork Shop at Auto Restorations.

Andy Wylie hand finishing a weld on the bespoke space frame of a 1953 Barchetta recreation.

Barchetta 1953 left.

Auto Restorations’ built Barchetta 1953 to customer design. The restoration of Classic cars is the re-creation of works of art that further the aesthetics in engineering design.

There are times when I might shoot five or six pictures besides the one obvious candidate. This comes from the discipline of what you could call visual anthropology. I haven’t stopped fact hunting or searching for relationships, compositions and visually interesting graphical twists.

The portraits of administrative staff 2009–12

Auto Restorations management white collar symbolWith 26 employees and very low staff turnover, several key people having worked over 20 years for the firm, and several others having clocked up more than a decade’s service, this has resulted in a vast accumulation of broad and deep specialist knowledge and experience.

The restoration of classic vehicles is a “high touch” process managed by Auto Restorations’ administrative staff. When restoring an automobile hidden defects are sometimes found that were not visible on first inspection. If these parts are best replaced, or extensively repaired to guarantee the restoration’s quality, the customer is sent photos and the matter discussed. The decision on how to proceed is then agreed upon in the process. Customers therefore are never faced with unexpected costs when they collect their completed restoration.

“The international renown and recognition that Auto Restorations has earned over the years is due to the exemplary skills, talents and exacting standards of our individual employees…”~Allan Wylie, General Manager 2008–2016

Shooting inside small spaces: The portraits of blue collar staff 2009–12

Auto Restorations skilled workforce blue collar icon.Because there is so much information to capture inside confined spaces and I want to spread out the interior world so it can be examined, this makes the 17–85mm and the 10–22mm zoom lenses the right choice for shooting inside small rooms and confined spaces.

Mark Saint Merat hand finishes a bespoke engine part in the Mechanical Workshop at Auto Restorations.

The portraits of the Automotive Engineering Shop’s skilled workforce 2009–12

Auto Restorations Automotive Engineering Shop icon.Auto Restorations’ machine shop is well equipped and staffed by seasoned experts. This allows them to make or recondition any mechanical part they need to restore a car, almost without exception. From engine block to king pin, they can machine them all.

Machined crankshaft for Aston Martin DB6 restoration made from Billet Steel for the DB6 engine by Auto Restorations’ machine shop.

Crankshaft made from billet steel for Aston Martin DB6 engine by Auto Restorations’ machine shop.


The portraits of Mechanical Services & Auto Electrical staff 2009–12

Auto Restorations Mechanical Shop icon.Eight staff perform all mechanical repairs and servicing, rewiring, electrical upgrades, the rebuilding of all types of engines, from primitive vintage, rare mid-century European sports cars, to early Formula One racing car types.

Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 Monza engine, right side.

Alfa Romeo 6C Monza engine, supercharged Super Sport variant.

Informal portraits of the Custom Coachbuilding team 2009–12

Auto Restorations custom coachbuilding plane icon.With mastery in wood, steel and aluminium the two coachbuilders, working along with the autobody Panel Shop team of six, construct custom coachwork one-off designs from scratch as well as restoring existing bodies, all achieved using construction techniques appropriate to the age of the chassis. Existing autobody designs are re-created in aluminium, traditional wood and tubular steel from drawings or photos, or new bespoke designs created to the customer’s brief.

1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso, front three quarter view, left.

Award winning 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso, widely regarded as the most beautiful sports car of the 20th century.

The portraits of the Panel Shop staff 2009–12

Auto Restorations Panel Shop icon.All bodywork defects are expertly repaired in Auto Restoration’s autobody panel shop. New panels are made up in steel or aluminium, repair patches are welded in place. Louvres can be made in engine bonnets. With a close eye to the fit and finish of their work, doors, boot lids and bonnets are expertly fitted to achieve perfect alignment and even gaps, one of the more challenging aspects of automobile restoration.

1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso, front view.

The Ferrari Lusso has generated much admiration for its exquisite proportions. The fit and finish of Auto Restorations’ work was recognised with a win in the Master Class, at the Ellerslie Concours d’Elegance in Auckland, 2010.

The portraits of the Paint Shop craftsmen 2009–12

Auto Restorations Paint Shop icon.The two Auto Restorations spray painters work in a modern refinishing facility that was purpose built to achieve award winning paint finishes that are the utmost in appearance and durability, as the firm’s multiple Concours d’Elegance awards prove.

Custom body Delahaye 135 roadster, front three quarter view.

Custom body Delahaye 135 roadster. The originals of these cars were the works of many different coach builders, throughout Europe, built upon the chassis supplied by Delahaye.

Radiator restoration and manufacturing shop staff 2009–12

Auto Restorations radiator shop icon.Custom vintage car and aircraft radiators are restored or manufactured to their original beautiful condition and the highest care for their originality in brass, copper and German Silver. The craftsmanship and high standard of Auto Restoration’s work is second to none.

Auto Restorations, Bugatti T49 front view of radiator.

Bugatti T49 classic roadster, these post WWI 8-cylinder sports touring cars were very successful and typify Bugatti style and design.

Indoor panoramic photography

Using the technique of photography where you capture wide swathes of the surroundings of a place instead of just one relatively narrow angle, really comes into its own inside Auto Restorations’ Workshop.

Auto Restorations Paint Shop panorama.

Paint Shop panorama.

Date: 2009–12
Client: Auto Restorations
Photographer, Graphic designer: Shaun Waugh

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2009–Present MagentaDot Brands, Advertising and promotional, Advertising or lifestyle photography, Auto Restorations, Automotive, Copywriting, Documentary photography, People, Photojournalism, Photoshop compositing, Portrait photography, Rebrand, Web content development, Web content management, Website

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