x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Photographer gives cars a magician's touch in ethereal portraits

Dubai photographer and illusionist Fred Fogherty combines his unique art style and obsession with cars into a petrolhead's version of fine art.

Fred Fogherty, magician turned photographer.
Fred Fogherty, magician turned photographer.

Fred Fogherty is a man who believes in extremes. The French magician doesn't do things by halves. If it's an illusion, he'll make a complete car disappear or levitate an entire building by a whole metre.

Then there's photography. Not content with just managing a decently framed shot on a compact camera, the 39-year-old went from barely ever having lifted an SLR camera to high-art extreme HDR (High Dynamic Range) images and his own unique style in just six months.

In fact, Fogherty's passion and zeal for new concepts and taking on new challenges is the impetus for a new goal, particularly when it comes to cars in the UAE.

"The cars here are amazing," says Fogherty, who is based in Dubai and Barcelona and who wants to be known as an artistic photographer. "I'm planning to shoot as many cars as possible, over the course of one year, and then produce a coffee-table book for car owners, enthusiasts and car collectors."

His technique involves shooting images using HDR, which boils down to taking several images at a light, dark and medium exposure and then compositing them to bring out details. Then, using photo software, he produces images that are deep and rich, almost fluid and syrupy in their deployment of colour. The overblown effect is not unlike a combination of impressionist paintings and French comic art, although Fogherty claims not to have been a big comic book reader. "People have compared my work to cartoons," he admits, "but certainly I'm inspired by my life, my travels and all the people I've met along the way."

It's quite a departure from what he's known for, having been an illusionist for more than 20 years - just search his name on YouTube or Google and you'll see an incredible array of tricks.

Three years ago, however, he decided to move to Dubai and, seven months ago, he embarked on an adventure around the globe, taking his magic on tour and raising money for children's charities. "It was an incredible trip, very successful and people helped me all around the world."

Cars do seem to pop up frequently in his range of tricks; they seem to have become an obsession while he was growing up in the Alps. Hurling them around in the snow clearly helped develop his car control skills, too. "I was working with a guy from the motor industry and that got me a chance to drive at tracks like the Nürburgring and Spa Francorchamps, I was pretty fast and ended up entering a few races, too."

But when it comes to cars, he's definitely a fan of the classics. "Definitely old cars; I'm old-school. But there is one modern car it is my dream to photograph: the Bugatti Veyron, I just love that."

Lucky for him, if there's any place in the world for his dream to come true, it's here.

For more information, contact Fred Fogherty at fogherty@mac.com