Last month the luxury car manufacturer Rolls-Royce revealed the Cullinan – the very first SUV and all-wheel drive vehicle ever produced by the iconic British brand. Named after the largest gem-quality rough diamond ever discovered, the Cullinan is a masterpiece of craftsmanship and design. Photographer Cat Garcia visited the Rolls-Royce assembly plant in Goodwood, West Sussex in England, to witness first-hand the assembly process and fittingly documented her experience with the Leica SL. We spoke with Cat about the people behind the production process, the value of hand-crafted luxury and shooting available light with the Leica SL.
How did your passion for photography develop? And is there anyone in particular, who influenced or inspired you along the way?
I’ve loved taking photos since I was young. I didn’t start looking at other photographers’ work until much later, but growing up I remember that my parents always made sure to take their camera out with them (their trusty old camera that they really loved, with a brilliant denim strap). Any moment, place or person they thought important, or that was special to them, they made sure to capture. This rubbed off on me, wanting to capture, document and save special moments.
Your work often celebrates the beauty of the individual, what is it that attracted you to the craftsmanship of Rolls-Royce?
The series I shot with Rolls-Royce was about the people and hand craftsmanship behind their new Cullinan car. I spent two days at Rolls-Royce in Goodwood shooting portraits and details across the different stages and departments. I liked the idea of the series being a mix of simple portraits celebrating the individuals at Rolls-Royce, and observed details of them at work.
This series is an inside look into production that’s not often granted to outsiders, was there something that you set out to capture or did you simply allow the surroundings to guide you?
It was an exciting time to be there, it was ahead of the official release of Cullinan so everything was strictly under wraps with preparations being made for its reveal. I worked with a great guide at Rolls-Royce, David, who taught me about the history of the brand, showed me the process at each stage of development, and introduced me to teams within each department. The structure of shooting was based on spending time across each department and capturing the different stages and processes, with the aim to capture natural images of people and their craft.
Do you have a favorite image in this series? And why?
My favorite portrait from the series is a simple portrait taken quickly between the craftsman’s focused work, based on it feeling warm and natural.
You shot this selection of photos with the Leica SL. What is it about the camera, which you appreciate the most?
I shot the series with the Leica SL and SL 75mm, 50mm and 24-70mm lenses. Most portraits were shot with the APO SUMMICRON SL 1:2/75mm. This series was about getting natural moments and working quickly with the natural and available light at the Goodwood location. The electronic viewfinder of the SL and small bag with all lens options I want for the wide variety of subjects, allowed me to be quick and mobile on location.
Apart from this fantastic series, what can we look forward to seeing from you in the near future?
I will be continuing to shoot portraits and working with a mix of black and white and color photography and I’m looking forward to shooting out on location in London this summer.
What advice would you offer to anyone looking to improve their photography?
Keep it simple.
The full “Crafting Cullinan” series, including extra prints, will be exhibited at the Goodwood Festival of Speed from 12-15 July.