Reduction and Magic

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The 2017 Audi Q7 receives photographer Panitz’s creative treatment.
Igor Panitz considers the Audi A7 a milestone in automotive design.
The passion began growing in his childhood, when internationally known automotive photographer Igor Panitz spent hours in the Stuttgart workshop where his father worked as a camera mechanic. “So cameras were around me constantly,” he said. “I soon started to feel a strong interest in these mechanical masterpieces. To freeze time by pressing a button felt like magic to me.”
Then when he was six years old, he experienced an even stronger connection during a moment with his brother, who was sitting on a swing under a blooming cherry tree. “I had that little Kodak Instamatic camera,” Panitz said, “and to avoid blurring, I shored up the camera on a fence post. My brother smiled at me, and I pressed the button. In this moment, there was not only a click in the camera but an even bigger click in my head.”
From then on, on-the-fly photography clicked with Panitz and strongly influenced him. “Street photography has a certain magic because it’s all in this one little moment,” he said. “You frame the situation, you make your exposure settings, and all these things have to be really perfect in that single moment. It’s a ‘magic moment’ thing. This is really challenging and thrilling.”
After embracing product imagery, Panitz’s challenge is to carve out the character of everything in front of his camera lens, he said: “Key to me is reduction, a graphic strength and a brilliant thought. What is this specific product standing for? They are both the sum of their history and they have their own vibration. I think the challenge is to get their swing and their vibration as deeply and as quickly as possible.”
The sought-after shooter—who created the cover images for the 2017 Audi of America model brochures—feels thrilled by the multifaceted role of car photography within product imagery, with cars typically their own personalities. “To find their perfect angle is definitely a challenge,” Panitz said. “To transport this angle in the location is another challenge, and to create or catch mind-blowing lighting that reflects the impression you have in mind—that, in my opinion, is pure art.”
Art completely captivates him. “The older I get, the more I understand that art is the key if you want to be successful as a photographer,” Panitz said “That’s an awareness that the Audi shoot has even deepened. Influenced by the ‘NY Upstruct’ series [], they came to me and said, ‘What would this look like with Audi vehicles in it?’ First, do art as good as you can, and that’s the thing.”
Panitz admitted that the long, elegant Audi A7 is his favorite model and represents a milestone. “Its flowing lines seem to be shaped by wind,” he said. “What Audi does reflects perfectly my understanding of excellent design. They don’t do too much. They have this perfect mixture of reduction, line and dynamics.”
Featuring a background from his NY Upstruct series, Panitz titled this image “Kombination.”
Based in Stuttgart, Germany, Panitz works in a studio with a bar area that he designed himself.
One of Panitz’s latest projects includes “Homeland of Your Soul.” His self-portrait appears below.
One Last Word,
Mr. Panitz
What kind of camera would you choose if stranded on an island?
Leica Monochrom
How has photography changed since smartphones began including cameras?
People shoot a lot. The source of inspiration became bigger.
Which person would you most like to take photos of?
Pat Metheny, guitarist
Which site or city do you want to shoot next?
Homs in Syria. A destroyed city where buildings changed to skeletons.
Do you prefer black & white or color better?
Black & white