The relationships between people and their cars are like few others in life, forged of sheer love and passion. Photographer Gerrit Glöckner, whose company Bildermeister offers bespoke private automotive photo shoots, realises the importance of offering owners the chance to have their prized cars professionally showcased. It’s an occasion that he says he’s seen inspire his customers time and again: “They look over my shoulder into the camera’s display and are fascinated by how their cars suddenly look”.
Glöckner often works for collectors on a repeat basis, for example before a car is due to be sold, but he emphasises that the core philosophy of Bildermeister (and, by the way, its unique selling point) is that it shoots for private customers, either as a group or on an individual basis. During group shoots especially, the photographer truly experiences the social dynamic of the enthusiasts, which you can feel in the short film above.
The shoots are deliberately organised as an event, which, in addition to the finalised photos, leaves lasting memories and often new friendships. “At first we thought Ferrari and Porsche owners would want to keep themselves to themselves,” Glöckner continues, “but quite the contrary – the warmth shown between them is striking and the lowest common denominators are the cars, regardless of whether someone owns a great classic, a modern supercar or a comparatively ‘normal’ car.”
In order to avoid unwanted weather interruptions, Glöckner chooses what he calls ‘lost places’ for these photographic events. They’re often disused industrial spaces that, with their vast windows, generous space and age-old patina, form a fascinating contrast with the shiny darlings of his customers. “For those customers interested in booking an individual shoot, we look for interesting architecture at a location near their homes.”
Sometimes the search for the perfect backdrop requires a simple stroke of luck. While looking for a spot in Hamburg to photograph a customer’s Mercedes-AMG GT, Glöckner happened across a depot where shipping containers are traded and repaired. After the GT’s owner bravely agreed, the sports car was lifted by a forklift and placed atop a container at a lofty height. “I was hoisted by a crane to take photos from above the car, but I also remember that the empty containers below my feet were wobbling!” If desired, a shoot can be repeated in this spectacular setting.
Glöckner founded Bildermeister in 2006. Before devoting his services to private customers, he photographed commercially and knows how elaborate and impersonal those shoots can be. He claims that’s why people are always pleasantly surprised when they discover shooting in a small group of like-minded people is so affordable. “It’s all a question of organisation,” Glöcker says. Bildermeister’s services begin with just one photo for just below 200 euros. Of course, you can stock up on portraits of your car – there’s an abundance of different packages, some of which include an entire gallery, a calendar, a mural or an opulent photo book. In addition, there are also exceptional offers such as the ‘Under Water’ special.
Other highlights in the Bildermeister repertoire include the elegant and beautifully packaged gift vouchers, which are especially favoured by female partners. “We’ve found that more often than not it’s the women who recommend our group events.” As a birthday surprise, one lady booked an appointment for her husband and his Porsche 911 GT2 in Zurich. He was reportedly surprised that his wife wanted to take him on a long trip to Switzerland and, despite his repeated questions, she revealed nothing on the way. Once they arrived at the location in Zurich, his enthusiasm knew no bounds. “She proudly told me her husband had never loved her quite as much as he had that day.”
Be them of a drop-top Porsche 356 or a more modest but no less beloved Ford Capri, the photos taken by Bildermeister impress with their light and attention to detail. In fact, they look as though they have come directly from a magnificent large-scale coffee table book. It’s perhaps unsurprising that people are so enthusiastic when they realise this aesthetic is an affordable proposition for their own cars. “My customers never want to be photographed with their cars. But if, for example, a father has booked a shoot and brought his son, I’ll insist on a family photo with the car. It’s a document of the day that the family will look back on with fond memories for many years to come. With a smile, Glöcker proclaims himself a magician.
The coronavirus pandemic has demanded the art of improvisation and flexibility from Bildermeister. An event is planned in Stuttgart for the end of May, while shoots in Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Berlin and Winterthur in Switzerland are also on the calendar. If you’d like to book your participation in any of the events in these cities, you can find more information at Bildermeister’s official website.