Fastlane

April 16, 2014

New York Students Have First Shot At The 2015 Corvette Z06 Convertible – Brad May

Three exceptional galleries, you decide who earns the $5,000 grand prize

Journalists and media from around the world will get their chance to photograph the new 2015 Corvette Z06 Convertible this week at the 2014 New York International Auto Show. However, we gave three New York-based students the unique opportunity to shoot the supercar before it was shown to the public.

To help celebrate the launch of the new Z06 Convertible, we challenged Mike Finkelstein of the Pratt Institute, Nico Sforza of the School of Visual Arts, and Dan Wang of the Rochester Institute of Technology to produce four dramatic images showcasing the new Z06 Convertible. Each student was given 12 hours of studio time and the freedom to be creative.

This was a challenging assignment; even more so considering none of the students had ever photographed a vehicle before.

I was on hand at the photography studio to help the students achieve the look they wanted without actively directing their shoots. It was crucial that their final photos represented their skills and talents alone. That meant allowing them to stumble a bit and make adjustments when a technique wasn’t working.

The chance to shoot the new Corvette Z06 Convertible wasn’t just the opportunity of a lifetime– it was also a chance to break new ground and learn valuable lessons along the way. For example, these students typically photograph small products like perfume bottles, handbags or perhaps a fashion shoot. The Z06 was by far the largest object they’ve framed up with a camera before.

Size wasn’t the only challenge. Unlike small products, cars incorporate multiple materials and finishes that require different lighting styles. The 2015 Corvette Z06 Convertible, with its carbon-fiber aerodynamic elements, glossy paint, fabric roof, and semi-transparent rear spoiler, is a more difficult vehicle to photograph than others.

Another complication? All three photographers were forced to shoot the same silver Z06 Convertible within the same studio. While this limited their creative options, I found that it forced the students to develop solutions to make their photos unique. Elements like lighting, atmosphere and post-production became essential for differentiating their images from the others.

At the end of the three days, I believe each photographer was successful in creating three unique galleries.

Wang opted to portray how the Z06 Convertible would look on the road by creating aesthetically lifelike images. Sforza opted to use negative space and strong shadows to portray the birth of a new car, driving out of a ray of light. And Finkelstein eschewed a digital camera and instead used film, giving his photos a sense of history.

The students had a challenging assignment, and I think all three succeeded.  Starting today, you can decide who will walk away from this competition with the $5,000 prize. View all three galleries on the official Corvette Facebook page and vote for the best by Tuesday, April 23. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, April 24.

Want to see the 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Convertible – in person? Make sure to visit the 2014 New York International Auto Show from April 18-27.

Update as of April 23: Dan Wang from the Rochester Institute of Technology has been announced as the winner of the Chevrolet Corvette Student Showcase Challenge. Wang received the most votes for his images on the Corvette Facebook page, earning him the $5,000 grand prize.


Brad MayBrad May has been at General Motors Design for 13 years. He currently supervises the CDI photography team which is responsible for all the photography at GM Design, from clay model prototypes to production vehicles and show cars.

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