1. People know you as a director, racer and photographer. If you could only be one of them which one would it be and why?
Probably director, because being a “director" has been influenced by everything else. My vision on things and attention to detail such as design and graphics has been heavily influenced by my photography background. My perspective of high action and the visual translation of speed has be shaped by my first person experience of racing. So really my title of director contains all the elements of racing and photography.
2. You have been a huge inspiration for many young photographers, what would be your advice for them if they were looking for a career in automotive photography?
Stay focused and chose an area of automotive category to focus on. Action, studio, static, lifestyle… choose one and try to give a unique perspective to that area, all the while understanding that you need to do everything well, but look for one area that will define you. Also remember its a craft and not just hobby… you need to “craft” every photo with a “point of view" and not just shoot a volume of photos.
3. If you say Jeff Zwart you say Pikes Peak. Why is this ‘race to the clouds’ so important for you and what makes it so special?
Every year it's an adventure, there are no two years that are the same or a road that is predictable to race on. You race against the elements and the road surface and your own fears so it really becomes a personal experience. I love the commitment to put everything together for just one run, there are no pitstops or “next laps” to lean on,… its just lay it on the line and make one run to the summit, no second chances. Its definitive, much like my own career in filmmaking.
4. If you look back at your career with Porsche as a director and photographer, what are your best memories?
In photography it would have to be jumping the turbo for the ad that said “One ride you'll understand why most rocket scientists are German”. We only shot the car jumping twice and we were so worried about damaging it. We had to walk away from the shoot saying that we “got the shot’ with really only one jump because the first time the car barely left the ground. It became one of the most iconic photographs I have ever shot and it even was on the wall on the Seinfeld show for while. In my directorial world it would be the Panamera launch commercial since it combined the history of Porsche in both the road cars and race cars with 36 historically significant cars. It allowed me to use all I knew about Porsche and all the contacts I had gained through the years to bing all the cars together.
5. You had many Porsche over the years, which one gives you the most satisfaction?
So many great cars for both the road and racing, but I guess I would have to say, my “first” car which is a yellow 914-6 which I have now owned for 48 years and has given me so many life experiences. It took me to college and it was a subject of may photos in school, I met my wife in it, and it provided one of my greatest racing adventures racing in the 1997 Panama Alaska Rally. My dad was the one who made me start saving my money for a car way back when I was 12 years old and investing in the stock market and when I graduated from high school I was able to spend it so I bought the 1970 914-6. My dad went in the service car for the Panama Alaska race so it was a "full circle” moment to have him chasing the car he had made me save my money for back when I was a kid. I still drive the car today and it is just a car that feels like home.
Find Jeff Zwart in A Flat 6 Love Affair - VOL 5