The McLaren GT at the Tara Undersea Road in Kyushu, Japan

Photography for McLaren Japan’s social sites & Instagram

A modern tale of learning to love the 5×4 aspect ratio, vertical crop.

Love it or loathe it, Instagram has an important place in the marketing and PR strategy of any brand. And McLaren are no different. As a photographer, I have some issues with Insta. But none more so, perhaps. than the way it has effectively forced one specific aspect ratio – vertical 5×4 – into our creative lives.

As attention spans have waned to almost nothing, it’s become even more critical to get people to stop scrolling and actually look at the photos you’re posting. Analysis of all the major supercar brands shows that the 5×4 vertical crop is the predominant creative tool for doing that.

That’s ok. Most of the time.

Some scenes totally lend themselves to it. Others can be made to work great with it. Sometimes you’re stretching to nail it. And there are a few times where you really want to shoot something widescreen, cinematic but it’s never going to work on Insta that way. It really is amazing to me that, after all this time, Instagram still has no dedicated iPad app. That the photos are such low resolution.

Still, we make the best of it….

Themes, plans and finding the best locations

Despite my personal feelings or creative wishlist, I’m all for making the best of what I have and getting the job done well.

We work closely with every client to develop a theme for each shoot and find locations to match. Often with McLaren that theme starts with the type of car we’ll be shooting: if it’s the GT, it’s a different sort of theme to if it were the 765. One’s a tourer. One’s more of a racing machine.

Once the car’s been decided, it’s then just a case of wrapping a theme around it: a day at the coast, a sightseeing trip, dinner in the evening, some shopping etc etc.

Across the shoots we’ve done for McLaren’s social campaigns, we’ve done a little of everything. Across a large swathe of Japan. From Nagasaki in the far south, to Kyoto and Osaka, Kanazawa, Tokyo.

Wallpaper Wednesday and exercise for our eyes

As well as the shots we’re creating with McLaren for regular Insta posts, we’re also shooting stuff specifically for them to give away as phone wallpapers. These are scenes which are a little more vertical still than the 5×4. It’s all good brain exercise. You need to think and be disciplined on location, to get the shots you need in the crops you want. But, still remain flexible enough to think freely. Keep your eyes and mind open, to capitalise on opportunities you hadn’t foreseen.

There’ll be more posts about McLaren coming soon, as we’re doing a lot of work with them at the moment. But, for now, enjoy a few of the pieces we’ve made for them, visualised in screengrabs from the McLaren Japan Instagram account.

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