Los Angeles based automotive photographer Richard Thompson III draws on a life-long love of cars to create high energy, atmospheric imagery for his clients which can be described as nothing less than car porn.

“I’m a car photographer because it is what I love to do. And life is too short to do anything but what you want to do. I love cars for so many reasons: The aesthetic beauty, there is the mechanical dimension; it is a form of art. It is a highly complicated, mechanical kind of sculpture.

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Richard has photographed some incredible cars during his career but his latest shoot was something special even for him. He was given the chance to shoot a rare Ford GT40 Mark IV racing car used at Le Mans in the 60s. This was an opportunity Richard wasn’t going to take lightly so he chose an incredible location in the desert.

“Today is going to be really special. I have been planning this for a long time. It is an iconic, legendary car. There are very few of them, I think 10. To be given the opportunity to work with this car, it is hard for me to keep my feet on the ground when we are doing this kind of work.”

Richard and his team left LA early to photograph the car in the raw desert’s beautiful sunrise.

“It is 5.20 AM and we are pretty close to ready. The car is in position and looking as good as it ever has. The beauty of a situation like this; the hard work of this kind of production, coming to this place at this time of day, and bringing this vehicle, and creating a really magic moment. It is very simple but it doesn’t take much beyond that.

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Richard brought Phase One’s new 40-80mm LS f/4.0-5.6 zoom lens to the shoot, and tested its quality.

“I’m really excited to try it out.  This is a very impressive piece of glass. The feel of the zoom, the rings, the weight, is just really heavy and fluid. Coming from a bit of a film background where you work with really nice Panavision and Cooke lenses and things like that, they don’t breathe when you zoom, the focus doesn’t shift and you don’t have that movement at the side of the lens, because they are designed for motion. When I zoomed the whole way out with this lens and I fixed the focus, and then zoomed the whole way in, it is holding focus the whole way across, which means that the innards of this glass are cut above. This is really nice!”

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When the shadows from the sunrise, which Richard set out to capture, had disappeared the team closed down the set. But the day was for sure not over…

There was still one more very important thing on the agenda; booting up the car.

“To be given the opportunity to shoot that car is enough in itself but to see it run and hear it, and not only that, but for them to have modified it for our shoot to return the exhaust to the original 60’s Le Mans spec exhaust which is just brutally loud. Very impressive to see this thing do what it was meant to do in the mechanical condition it was raised in.”

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Watch Richard Thompson III work with the new Phase One 40-80mm LS lens, and experience the sound of the legendary Ford GT40.

“It is pretty hard to deny that this isn’t one of the most beautiful, iconic racing machines of all time. What a pleasure to work with this thing today.”

Trained at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Richard’s background combines elements of film, photography, and graphic design with a genuine passion for all things automotive.

Check out more images from Richard’s shoot here.

All images in this post are the property of the artist and used with permission © Richard Thompson 2014