Visiting a Japanese owner with the largest private collection of M cars anywhere in the world.
I’ve been working with German publishing company, Delius-Klassing, for some years now. As well as the books they produce, they also contract publish magazines. We in fact first worked together on their AMG-Mercedes magazine. Shooting a feature on samurai and sword-makers. That was almost ten years ago. God, where does time go?
We’ve also worked together on a couple of 50th Anniversary books. The first being their commemorative book for the Porsche 911’s 50th Anniversary. This time around, it’s BMW’s M series of cars that is our focus. The way they tend to theme their publications is through the lens of owners. With the Porsche book, it was the iconic Japanese racing driver Ikuzawa Tetsu. The owner I’d be photographing for the M book would turn out to be very different but no less fascinating.
The cars, the people, their environment….
I’m really lucky to always work with such a great team at Delius-Klassing. They know my work, they know I’ll never promise anything I can’t deliver and they just let me get on with things. They send me a brief and a general style guide for the book or magazine we’re working on. After that, all they really want is for me to go, see what I see and bring it home for them.
In the case of the M Love book it was as much about the owner and their living environment as it was about the cars. Someone who owns literally one of every M car ever made is not going to be boring. And readers want to see the character of the people who are the custodians of these amazing cars.
Hosobuchi-san is one such person. He and his wife run a packaging company, with factories across Japan. Their home, in Saitama Prefecture, is traditional. Site of a shrine that dates back many hundreds of years. It’s been in the family a long time. In the garden there is still a small shrine along with a number of stone artefacts and sculptures. The entrance is a wonderfully characterful gatehouse.
It took a little ballet to get the 3.0CSL in the opening of the gate. But it’s where I really wanted to shoot the car. As soon as we saw Buchi’s house, with the gate and walls, I knew I wanted to pair the M1 and the 3.0CSL together there. These two cars, after all, are the most extraordinary and gloriously designed ‘wrappers’ for one of BMW’s most iconic straight-6 engines ever.
Some shots from the day and news of the book
The light on the day was a bit brutal. We started shooting near the middle of the day and that’s usually a time I’d try to avoid. But, the strong light made crisp shadows and as you’ll see from some of the shots below, allowing my eye to explore the architecture, car, shadows and use the strong contrasty light really, I think, worked out well. You just have to work with what’s there. No point ever wasting time or energy wishing things were different.
Delius-Klassing’s ‘M Love’ book is released in June. It comes, as far as I know, in both German and English editions and from what I’ve seen so far, the designers have done a wonderful job. In amongst my shots of the cars, below you’ll find a couple of screenshots from a PDF I was sent very early into the design process. One of the earliest draft layouts of the pages featuring Hosobuchi-san, his wife Masako, their house and cars. These are un-edited shots. And a draft layout. But it’ll give you an idea of the way the the book will flow.