Through the Lens of Larry Chen


In photographing cars and the culture that surrounds them, I thought I had experienced it all. I've shot every style of machine imaginable in many different countries around the world, but up until now I had never featured any cars digitally.

When Need for Speed asked me to take photos in the digital world of Ventura Bay, I figured it would be a piece of cake. I was wrong. It was very challenging, but a lot of fun at the same time.

Firstly, I needed to choose the locations.

Given there are so many picturesque environments in the game, this was a lot harder than I expected it to be. I set some goals to show off the scenery the designers have created, as well as what the Frostbite engine is capable of in the way it renders reflections and amazing detail like water running down a car's fenders.

Second, I had to choose the car I was going to use. With every single car that I shot I had the ability to add and remove parts to get the look that I wanted. I wanted to create cars that I would actually love to shoot in the real world.

I even had the chance to create my personal car in the game and shoot some photos of it doing burnouts without ever having to replace the tires!

Next up was positioning the car and the camera to shoot some statics – just not in the way I'm used to. Instead of being on the ground with my camera, I had a game controller in my hand, making tiny adjustments with my framing.

Just like in my normal nine to five job, I set out to make the most out of the light that was available to me. It helped that there are slightly different lighting conditions through the different parts of Ventura Bay.

Some of the areas allowed me to get some nice backlit photos through tire smoke, while others allowed me to show off the reflections on the fenders and sometimes even the carbon fiber bits.

At the end of the day, I was happy with the shots that came out. I tried my best to shoot the beautifully modelled machines as I would if they were life-sized and right in front of me, and I think there was a lot of realism in the final results.

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