While other photographers have been capturing porch portraits or ‘porchraits’ of physically-isolated families during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Hamilton, Ont.-based photographer has turned his lens toward parked cars.
For automotive enthusiasts and collectors, cars are something akin to family. And these aren’t just any cars that Lucas Scarfone is photographing.
Mr. Scarfone has been taking driveway portraits of luxury vehicles. His subjects include multimillion dollar Ferraris, a rare Dutch supercar called a Spyker Spyder, a Bugatti Veyron Vitesse whose top speed is 408 kilometres an hour, a Porsche 911 Speedster, a DMC DeLorean, a Lamborghini Performante and a couple of Aston Martins.
The owners pull their prized cars into their driveway and head back inside while Mr. Scarfone photographs the vehicles from a safe distance. In return for the contact-free car portrait – car-trait? – he asks owners to make a donation to the Starlight Children’s Foundation charity.
“Within a couple hours, I had 25 to 30 guys who wanted to do it,” Mr. Scarfone says on his way back from Barrie, where he had just finished photographing another pair of exotic cars.
In the two weeks since he announced the driveway portrait project on social media, he has captured 31 cars and helped to raise more than $10,000 for the Starlight Foundation. The charity is collecting donations to send activity packages with board games and crafts to immunocompromised children who can’t go outside during the pandemic.
“I’ve always kind of played with cars for a living,” Mr. Scarfone says. He began before he could drive, when his parents would ferry him to local track days so he could photograph cars from the sidelines. Now, he works as an automotive photographer for car companies and as co-publisher of Autostrada magazine.
The magazine profiles car collectors and enthusiasts, which is why so many exotic machines that rarely see the light of day came out for these driveway portraits.
You don’t need a million-dollar car to sign up for a driveway glamour shot; any car is eligible, so long as there’s a charitable donation to go along with it. In addition to exotic machines, he has photographed a friend’s Jeep, some SUVs, a GMC pickup, a Ford Fiesta ST and a Fiat 500 – though the Fiat was the Gucci special edition, so not exactly pedestrian. The owner of a Kia Stinger even took a photo of his own car and submitted it to Mr. Scarfone, along with a donation to the charity.
To those without any kind of affection for automobiles, it may seem strange to have a portrait taken of a car. You might as well take a photo of your toaster or your fridge while you’re at it. But to automotive enthusiasts and collectors, their beloved cars are not just machines.
People occasionally ask Phil Trigiani, a collector based in Burlington, Ont., to pick a favourite from his collection of around 20 cars, but he can’t do it. It’s a bit like being asked to choose your favourite child, he says.
Cars can also be easier to photograph than families. “When you’ve got to corral the kids, it’s different,” Mr. Trigiani says. “When it’s a car, I can just bring it up and it’s ready to go – nobody’s bickering about what to wear.”
Mr. Scarfone took pictures of Mr. Trigiani’s two Ferrari F40s: one red, one black. “It was my poster car,” Mr. Trigiani says. The 1987 F40 was the last model overseen by Enzo Ferrari himself. Today, Mr. Trigiani estimates an F40 in good condition is worth around $2-million.
Rene Monaro, a collector who lives in Oakville, Ont., has just less than 30 cars. Mr. Scarfone photographed Mr. Monaro’s LaFerrari, the brand’s first hybrid, of which only 499 were ever made.
“I didn’t buy a nice car because I wanted my friends to see,” Mr. Monaro says. “For me, it was the sheer love of cars.” Cars are a passion first and, occasionally, an investment second. Some models, such as his 1973 Ferrari Dino and 2015 LaFerrari, have shot up in value since he purchased them.
“In Canada, we only drive [exotic] cars maybe half a year, if we’re lucky,” Mr. Scarfone says. So, collectors and enthusiasts often put up a photo of their car at home or in the office. “A lot of the guys, their wives will make fun of them, saying, ‘You don’t even have pictures of your kids up, but you’ll have a picture of your car,’” Mr. Scarfone says.
He admits the enthusiastic response to the charity driveway project surprised him. He has another 40 or so car portraits still to shoot. Originally, his plan was simply to use the project to keep busy while helping out a good cause. Now he says he’d like to continue taking driveway portraits to raise money for charity even after the pandemic ends. Those interested in participating can reach out to Mr. Scarfone through his Instagram account, @scarfonephoto.
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