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When Anna Heupel drives the BMW 220i Coupé in Portimao Blue Metallic, she likes to think back to her first road trip through Sweden: straight along the country roads, leaves blowing across her path, the sun low in the sky in the distance. The German photographer fell in love with the landscape instantly, with its dark-green trees and rust-colored houses. The sheer driving pleasure was immense. On the wide, often empty roads, the vehicle, her thoughts, and the scenery became one (➜ Read also: Norway road trip).
The 32-year-old often spends time in Scandinavia, as she bought her own vacation home there soon after that road trip, when her career was taking off: At her vacation residence in the northern Swedish district of Västernorrland, Heupel wrote her autobiographical guide “Fotografie – Inspired by life: Wie du in deinen Bildern Geschichten erzählst” (How you tell stories with your pictures), which made it to number one on the “SPIEGEL” best-seller list. She has produced work for well-known brands in both Sweden and other countries. Heupel recently visited the coastal landscape around Stockholm for BMW and made a guide for car fans in her own style.
Heupel explains how to best photograph a vehicle in a contribution for the My BMW App (➜ Read also: Connect your life with the My BMW App). There are four videos in which she talks about suitable light, special details and finding backdrops and angles. But before she gets started, the photographer needs to get a closer look at her model.
She parks the BMW 220i Coupé at the edge of a small lake. The paintwork shines, while the deep-blue water shimmers in the background. Heupel moves around the car as if dancing. Each step is followed by a click, each arm movement by a clack. She blinks another few times through the lens, then presents the results on her camera (➜ Read also: Brooklyn Beckham and his camera).
Most vehicles are still photographed by men.
“Most vehicles are still photographed by men,” explains the expert. Rims and exhaust pipes are always the focus – her photos challenge those clichés and show other angles. “How can the automobile be assimilated as it currently is into everyday life?” Heupel wonders. She wants a “down-to-earth” angle. She wants to zoom in on the BMW in the same way she captures people: dazzling, natural, genuine (➜ Read also: Nick Knight and the new BMW i7). For her first image, this results in the BMW 220i Coupé becoming one with the water and the sky.
Heupel discovered her love of photography during her childhood. Her parents owned a digital camera, an expensive one for the time. The young girl was not meant to use it unsupervised, but the temptation was too great. Secretly, she took it and photographed the surroundings of her hometown of Siegen in Germany. In time, she had had a bit of practice, and following her first jobs, she made the leap into self-employment (➜ Read also: The unknown Wikipedia photographer).
Heupel’s 155,000 Instagram followers know that travel was a major motivation for her job. Whenever Heupel visited a country that she was curious about, she captured fleeting moments in warm images. This attracted more and more fans and, eventually, customers like BMW.
A few kilometers from the lake, Heupel turns into the forest. She wants to know how the BMW 220i Coupé will look amongst the greenery. The blue of the BMW should go well with dark tones, while light green will be challenging. But if she does manage it, depending on the light, she will motivate other BMW drivers to give it a go (➜ Read also: Steve McCurry in the Scottish Highlands).
One BMW enthusiast that Heupel knows very well is her father. She made her first small trips in a BMW 318i (E30), followed by later trips with the BMW 320i (E36). Heupel learned what sheer driving pleasure is from her father. The BMW 3 Series models were always sporty and practical to drive (➜ Read also: A journey through time with the BMW 3 Series) – just like the BMW 220i Coupé.
The photographer kneels down to include the stony ground in her image and provide contrast to the blues and greens. The light comes in from the side, and as Heupel clicks the shutter, the back of the car shimmers almost as enchantingly as it did on the shore of the lake. “Really it’s all about movement,” reveals the expert. “The view of the subject changes when I change – when I kneel down or stand up. The light sets the pace.”
In the foreword of Heupel’s book by photographer Bob Sala, it says that she manages to combine lightness with melancholy; the search for the light is always a part of that. In other words, this means that Heupel always works with daylight.
The photographer gets into the BMW 220i Coupé and enjoys one more drive before the sun goes down (➜ Read also: Nightride through London in a BMW 2 Series). She accelerates slightly and smiles. It’s like everything fits together perfectly: her love of photography, light, movement, travel, and driving. When she says that she captures “fleeting moments,” she means the moments that make us feel good and evoke positive memories – whether these are of the first road trip to Sweden or the most recent day trip with the BMW 220i Coupé.
Author: Nadja Dilger; Art: Verena Aichinger, Ha My Le Thi; Photos: Anna Heupel; Video: Ludwig Bütow, Anna Heupel, Julia Isabella Niedermeier, Niclas Schönwälder