Meet the Automotive Photographer: Rick Noël

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Bedfordshire-based Rick Noël is the second automotive photographer to supply his automotive art through Limited100. An established professional with over 10 years' experience, Rick works in and alongside motorsport and automotive brands. With good access to many circuits and motoring facilities, including Silverstone, Millbrook Proving Ground and Bedford Autodrome, Rick specialises in automotive, motorsport and motoring events coverage.

In this article, Rick answers some questions so you can find out more about how he takes and develops his iconic automotive photography.

How did you get into photography?

From a young age, roughly 12-15 I was interested in taking photos of aircraft at museums and airshows. I’d always use my parents' cameras at the time and once I was a little older, I was gifted my own Fuji digital camera for my birthday and my passion grew from there!

Have you always been a petrolhead?

One of the first toys I remember playing with as a child was a James Bond DB5 die cast, the one with the ejection seat and pop up bullet shield in the boot. I think my fascination with all things automotive started there. I had a fine collection of Matchbox cars and to this day I still own a fair amount of larger die cast models too. The culmination of my passion for the automotive and the capture of light was a natural convergence that brought me to where I am today.

Pictured: Edition 1/100 of 'Zero6 Alfa Romeo GTV2000' by Rick Noël

What is the key to taking a great photo?

Composition, an understanding and passion for the subject matter and light. Composition is what draws the eye in to the image. The understanding and passion ensures you capture what is most important. Light is what we as photographers play with to make the image as inviting and interesting as possible.

What’s the most interesting car photoshoot you’ve ever done for a client?

This is a difficult question, there are a few that will stay with me for a long time!

Shooting the F40 with the Spitfire was pretty incredible. Literally two of my favourite things in the world parked in front of my lens.

Pictured: 'Ferrari F40 at Sywell Aerodrome' by Rick Noël

Being strapped into the back of a Range Rover and photographing a Formula One car, at speed, mere inches from the end of my lens is a particular favourite.

More recently, I was asked to shoot a 1 of 50 Shelby GT500 Super Snake. This particular car is thought to be the only one in the UK, possibly Europe. The twist in this shoot was a 13 foot king cobra… so I found myself around 4 feet away from a slightly antsy king cobra that has the capacity to render me lifeless around 6 minutes after giving me a little nibble. Fortunately there were incredibly skilled handlers on site to make sure that didn’t happen!

What is your dream three-car garage and why?

Dodge Viper ACR – Always loved the Viper, it ticks all the boxes for everything bonkers about the US; massive displacement, massive tyres, massive potential for everything to go very wrong at every corner.

Impreza 22B – I’m a huge fan of most things Subaru; the first time I got to witness Colin McRae lighting up the forest stages in the WRC cemented the blue oval and Pleiades constellation forever in my heart. I’ve owned several, and fully expect I’ll own more at some point.

A fast estate, Audi RS6, Volvo 850 T-5R or similar. I love the practicality of a wagon and being able to carry assorted white goods at 150+mph appeals to my silly side.

How important is the editing in getting that perfect shot?

This is a really difficult question. I know photographers that shoot solely to edit and I know photographers that feel they must get the perfect shot straight from camera. I try and apply both principles where necessary.

Do you have any tips for aspiring automotive photographers?

Practice, learn your equipment, play and have fun. Photography is a creative art. You will hit creative ‘slumps’ but by keeping it fun and trying new things that push you out of your comfort zone, you will learn new skills and improve your art.

Learning your camera, flash, and tripod, even how you’re packing your camera bag will help you immensely when shooting. If it’s dark and you need to change lenses, knowing exactly where to look in your bag will save having to dig around for a torch. Learning exactly where and what each button does on your camera will help you become more efficient with the images you create - as you can imagine the list is near endless.

Practice is everything - practice with your own car or toy cars, practice with traffic, practice in a car park, it will only help you improve!

Is there anyone in the automotive industry who really inspires you?

I draw inspiration from many different people, whether fellow photographers (Amy Shore, Dave Rook, Ian Skelton etc.), through to artists who create unique pieces (Ian Cook, Mike O’Connor, Paul Oz for example). I find inspiration in trying to find the story in each piece I see, obviously it’s often down to personal interpretation but if you create something evocative enough then it will generate its own stories.

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Which other services can you offer car enthusiasts?

Through my own company Sprite Photography, I can offer a range of automotive and aerial imaging solutions, as well as being an automotive photographer I am a fully CAA-licensed UAS (Drone) pilot!

Where do you see yourself in three years’ time?

Hopefully still doing what I love, taking photos of all things automotive. Hopefully I will continue learning and finessing my craft!

Explore the Rick Noël Collection here.

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