Over time, the number of cars at the events increased from about 100 to 2,000. But it was the people, not the cool cars, that grabbed Brainard’s interest and inspired his black-and-white photo book “All Tore Up: Texas Hot Rod Portraits.”
“I find pictures of people more interesting than anything else,” he said. “The people at these car shows I just thought (were) really, really interesting and cool-looking, and so I wanted to capture that. Also, it was something that nobody else was doing. You know, there were a bunch of people taking pictures of the cars, but there was nobody who was really documenting the people and the culture in the way that I ended up doing.”
When Brainard started creating these portraits, he used only white seamless paper as the backdrop. This later created weather-related challenges, such as movement from the wind.
So he decided to paint a large piece of canvas white to use as the backdrop, and then he secured it to a box truck so it would stay in place.
“In April is the big car show where I’ve taken a lot of these pictures,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to taking the book to that and to the people who are in the book and the people who are part of the culture seeing the book and getting their response.”
“All Tore Up: Texas Hot Rod Portraits” is Brainard’s first photo book and will be released on March 1.
“I would say the overall message of the book is … about how we’re all more similar than we are different and about the connection and real honesty and rawness in these images,” he said. “I feel like (the subjects) are really real, and it really comes across. I feel like they’re very open with me in these pictures. I hope that (this) comes across to people.”
George Brainard is a photographer based in Austin, Texas. You can like him on Facebook. The book “All Tore Up: Texas Hot Rod Portraits” is available through the University of Texas Press.