The Nissan Townpod and why the Dernbach studio is ideal for injured photographers

The Nissan Townpod and why the Dernbach studio is ideal for injured photographers

John Lennon once wrote: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

These prophetic lines came to haunt me a couple of years ago, just as I was planning a shoot for the Nissan Townpod prototype in Germany.

And I blame it all on my wife’s turnips.

It was a few weeks before my flight to Germany and I was cajoled into digging a trench in her newly created vegetable garden. I was persuaded that work in the garden would involve much fresh air, contribute to a healthy rustic countenance (I was leading a troglodyte existence in my studio) and give the family organic vegetables to boot. A no brainer all round.

Trouble was that as soon as the spade hit solid dirt the cartilage in my knee decided it had had enough. The pain was intense and the following knee operation was a failure. I was – temporarily at least – an invalid. Only able to hobble at best.

Despite the incapacity, I decided to chance a trip to Frankfurt to the Dernbach studio where the Nissan Townpod shoot was to take place – and was hugely relieved and impressed the moment I saw the place.

Dernbach Studio

Image Courtesy Dernbach Studio

This studio is essentially a state-of-the-art cone with a turntable for the car. It was a dream for a temporarily disabled photographer like me.

The lights down the cone were in the floor and recesses, so I was able to place them in the drop down sections without having to do too much physical work; for example, putting up felt walls from the floor for the reflections. It had all been really well thought through. Very German.

Reminded me of that 60s kids scifi show, Time Tunnel. All lights and reflections and odd perspectives

The Nissan Townpod was a prototype, not made for production, so essentially a car that isn’t roadworthy. Usually in such cases you have to push the car into position and maybe sometimes drive it. None of which I was in a position to achieve.

But in the Dernbach studio I had a 360 degree turntable I was able to rotate with an on-off button. Everything at the flick of a switch.

We got the standard shot of the front and rear 3 quarters. Then had time spare and got a bit arty. Went low.

Nissan Townpod

Nissan Townpod

Nissan Townpod

Nissan Townpod

Nissan Townpod

Nissan Townpod

We then made a video afterwards.

The shoot was featured at the Paris Motor Show and then at Madrid. Nissan was happy and so was I. In fact, I got my recent Nissan Taxi job as a result.

As a footnote, I’ve since become an obsessive cyclist, nowadays between jobs I try to cycle 50 miles each morning to help mend my knee and keep it in shape. And I will never again dig in our vegetable garden – which is now rather forlorn and overgrown.

Our vegetables are still organic, but we buy them from the local farm shop.

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