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ADV1 Wheels – The Beard

In 2008, ADV1 didn’t exist nor did the re-invention of the concave wheel. Instead a different company owned by Jordan by the name of 360 Forged had emerged, slowly taking over the wheel industry with amazing wheel designs but more importantly had done what no other wheel company had so far, which was bringing an amazing lifestyle feel to their projects through the lens of one man’s camera. Today as ADV1 leads the wheel industry to new heights, they do so by capturing each, and every one of their vehicles through that same lens.

The man behind the lens became known as “The Beard” and today we share with you how one man re-invented the world of automotive photography as Top Gear re-invented car reviews. Meet William Stern, the man behind the lens of some of today’s most amazing automotive photography…

We had a unique opportunity to get to know more about the man and how he became as great as he is today as well as witness some of William Stern’s work including never before seen pics.

Do you think you re-invented automotive photography by putting 360 Forged on the map with photography?

I would not go as far as saying that I re-invented automotive photography. I just went in a different direction.

I came up with what later on Jordan Swerdloff and I called the Bird Flu, basically it consists of me signing up to a lot of forums and spamming them with my images. Every shoot was spammed and no one put a stop to it for a very long time. If anything, I continued getting emails and messages from administrators and moderators to please continue posting my work as they enjoyed it very much. My mission was to get my name and 360 Forged out to a broad audience. Once it was all said and done I must have been a member to at least to 200 to 300 forums that I would review and update on a constant basis. The pictures came out amazing and held a high level of lifestyle to them making them look much more appealing than the typical car in a parking garage look.

Give us some background on how you joined Jordan and 360 Forged back in the day and how that changed your perspective on the industry.

Before I met Jordan I was shooting for a wheel company called Sevas. Apparently Jordan had seen my work through a mutual friend and requested my contact info. We met, fell in love, and the rest is history.

I know that you have ties to Webb Bland, explain and are you guys still connected?

I started chatting with Webb in late 2010. In December of that year he had a shoot for Chrysler in Miami, and asked if I would like to assist.  We worked together for four long cold days. Yeah, I know… cold in Miami? Yeah right! Seriously it was freezing, and working right off the water didn’t help at all! We clicked and became good friends after that. Now I continue to assist on his commercial shoots thought the states when I get the chance. He is talented and passionate but we both share a common vision for photography excellence.

What advice do you have for the thousands of aspiring car photographers that only wish to be as good as you?

First and foremost you must have a love for it and shoot as much as possible. Me personally, I read books, Googled, watched YouTube tutorial videos, and did tons of research. I absorbed as much information as I could to become a better photographer, and even reached out to other photographers for knowledge and advice. You cannot be afraid to try new things and cannot be afraid to take chances. It is those chances we take that enable us to find certain styles and traits that makes our own photography unique to the world and gives us a new level of never before seen style.

What was it that made you get into that line of work?

Automotive photography literally fell on my lap. A buddy of mine that owned a wheel company called Sevas knew that I was dabbling in photography and asked me to shoot a car with his line of wheels. The car was a Mercedes S550 and black of all colors. He must have liked the photos because he continued calling me back for more shoots. I started posting my work on Flickr and enjoyed the comments that I was receiving. Automotive photography and I became one.

How do you see photography evolving in 2012 and on, any new trends you see yourself setting?

Man what a tough question!

Things are always changing at such a rapid pace, it’s hard to keep up with it all. I’ve taken note though that a lot of photographers in my line of work have been experimenting more and more with a technique called light painting. It is extremely time consuming, to complete one image alone can take a few hours. If done correctly it can leave you with a fantastic final image.

As far as me setting any trends this year, well at the present moment I have a few things that I am working on,  but I do not wish to reveal them as of yet.

What equipment do you use? Why? Any experience with other brands? Any suggestions around gear for new automotive photographers?

Everyone knows I am a Nikon guy, currently I shoot with a Nikon D300s, which if everything goes as planned, I will be upgrading to the D800 or D4. I have a wide range of lenses, but find myself using my 24-70mm 2.8 the most.  I plan on switching out my current lenses and moving on to primes, as the will give me a sharper looking image in the end. I could have gone with Canon but enjoy the button configuration on the Nikon bodies better.

My suggestion for the new guys would be to go with what feels right for you, remember it is not always the more expensive gear that is going to give you a better looking image. It is the artist within that is going to do that for you.

What is the absolute best pic you ever took, tell us about it and why it means so much?

Another tough question.

I don’t know; I have so many that I enjoy to just pick one. What I can tell you though, is the shoot I did with Ben’s Ford Raptor and how I loved some of those shots. Not only did I love some of the shots but the day was chaotic and fun all at the same time. It was the first time in a shoot that I had no care in the world that the car was dirty. I knew going into the shoot that I wanted some farmland, dirt roads, or crop fields. What I didn’t expect was heavy rain, soft grounds and getting the truck stuck for a little bit. Shit even I was knee high in the mud for some of the shots it was insane!!

What could have been any other photographer’s nightmare, I somehow made it work.

Rains, mud, and chances of ruining some equipment are not normal. I was worried about my gear but at the same time, I did not know if I would get the same chance to get the same look to that you see in those images again. It just came together pretty well.

A big thank you to William Stern for sharing his story with us and inspiring other young photographers. You will definitely be seeing some more of Will’s amazing photography in our upcoming ADV1 articles as well as in our next phases of our 997.2 C4S project car.