Thomas von Salomon
was born in Düsseldorf in 1958. He has worked in photography since 1975. A photographer and gallery owner, he lived and worked for 20 years in Munich before moving to Frankfurt in 2012. His customers include renowned brands such as Opel, BMW, Audi, Renault, Viking, and Sattler timepieces.
About the Book
52 pages, panoramic binding,
32 color images, embossed/debossed front cover
98,00 Euro incl. VAT and shipping,
limited edition of 100 copies
Opel Post: How did you get involved in such an unusual project?
Thomas von Salomon: I had already enjoyed a successful collaboration with Opel on the ‘150 years of Opel’ calendar, which featured groundbreaking prototypes and portraits of developers and designers. It won the GREGOR award in 2012, a prestigious prize for calendars.
After working with Opel Classic, we decided to start a project on the company’s brand and racing history. The concept was to portray cars from each era. So we went ahead and photographed them from the side and from above.
Were you not satisfied with the results?
We were. The cars looked beautiful. As a photographer, I was particularly fascinated by how the cars were wrapped. Back then it was done in such a way as to enhance the shape of the car rather than covering it up. Once the photos had been taken and we were going through the results, it occurred to me that it would be really amazing to show the cars from underneath. Everyone thought I was joking at first. You should have seen Uwe Mertin’s face when he realized I was serious! You could see what everyone was thinking: “He’s really lost it now. What a crazy idea!”
But that wasn’t the end of the story.
Fortunately not. The people at Opel Classic could not let go of this crazy idea. So I got a call from Mertin a couple weeks later. There was a hall available on the plant premises with a five-ton portal crane. If I could be there the next day, we could do the photo shoot. I was still living in Munich at the time, but I just grabbed my gear and took off with my assistant.
„The history of the brand is totally fascinating. Other car brands have simply distributed racing licenses just to have their name represented. On the other hand, Opel wrote racing history.“
Thomas von Salomon
And how did you actually take the ‘DOWN’ photos?
We hung the race cars from their axles and hauled them up eight meters with the crane. Then I positioned myself underneath in the middle, set up the lighting, and shot away.
Was it worth all the effort?
Absolutely! I had assumed that all cars looked more or less the same from underneath, but I was totally surprised to find out that they are not at all alike. That is one reason why I find free projects so exciting. Crazy jobs like this are a welcome change from my advertising work, which has to follow precise specifications.
What do you appreciate about Opel?
The history of the brand is totally fascinating. Other car brands have simply distributed racing licenses just to have their name represented. On the other hand, Opel wrote racing history. Opel builds amazing cars and is a strong brand. It has made impressive achievements over the last several years since the ‘Re-Park in Your Head’ campaign. The brand awareness has developed in a very positive way during this time.
How did the collaboration go?
Very well. The people at Opel are true car fanatics. They are crazy about cars in the best sense of the word, and they live and breathe cars. They make it possible to do things you can’t do with other customers. This project is a good example. When they are convinced about an idea, they just say, “All right everyone, let’s do it!” I am eternally grateful for this attitude, which allowed us to work on together on this extraordinary project.
How did the photos end up being published in a book?
I keep the photos from this project in my portfolio, which I take with me when I go for interviews with agencies or editorial offices. The feedback was so positive! Art directors kept talking to me about the photos and asking me whether I wanted to do something with them. Florian Stürmer of the ‘Raum Drei’ design agency and I came up with the idea together to put together a book using the photos. We really wanted to produce it in a high-quality format with details such as panoramic binding, which has no gutter to disturb the flow of the images, and the embossed cover, on which the word ‘UP’ is raised and ‘DOWN’ is indented. The print run has been limited to 100 copies. Our intent was to make this a true collector’s item, and we succeeded.
Speaking of collector’s item, which of the models did you like the most?
It is very hard to say. Each of the race cars has its own special details. Off the top of my head, I would say: the 1913 12.3-liter race car, the Eco Speedster, the Ascona B400 ‘Rothmans’ and the Kadett Rallye 4×4 ‘Bastos’.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us.