Smoke & Mirrors is a photography book written by Adam Hay-Nicholls, produced by Hoxton Mini Press and published internationally by Penguin. The stunning visuals and artful text remind us that automobiles are more than mere metal and machinery. Drawing together world-renowned and up-and-coming photographers, this book uncovers our relationships with cars.
Car photography often evokes the same recycled tropes. Predictably slick, hi-spec images on the front pages of glossy magazines, or huge blow-ups on giant billboards which have one designed aim: to sell a lifestyle. But our relationship with cars is so much more meaningful than these images might suggest. Like the camera, the car has changed the way we explore the world. With cars came road trips, and with road trips came some of the most important photographic documentaries of our time. A car is a vehicle not just for transport but for our hopes, desires, and dreams.
In Smoke & Mirrors, a selection of photographers come together to pay tribute to the car. From Todd Hido’s painterly landscapes taken through wet windscreens and William Green’s shots of sleeping Tokyo taxi drivers, to Nick Turpin’s images of ‘donut’ skid marks: his eye was caught by arcs of burnt tire rubber on the asphalt. “I love how the marks interact with the official white lines and symbols,” he says. His project Donuts is named for the skill of spinning through 360 degrees in a handbrake turn.
These photographs display cars at their most playful, introspective, and meaningful, reminding us that there is more to them than just metal and machinery – for cars are emotionally intertwined with the lives we live.
Abut the Author
Adam Hay-Nicholls is a writer and media consultant specializing in motoring, Formula One racing, culture, travel, luxury, and adventure. An editor, visual director, and producer who has worked with some of the world’s most talented writers, photographers, and designers.
The cover picture of this article is by Nick Turpin.