Gallery: Famed Director/Photographer Shares His Best VW Ads

Instagram is a lovely place for photos of VWs, but we can’t think of the last time a post has been quite so laser-focused on our interests. Photographer Jeff Zwart is sharing collections of his ad work from the ‘80s and ‘90s on his Instagram page.

“I spent 10 years shooting high-performance advertising campaigns for companies all over the world,” writes Zwart. “I thought for the next 10 days I would share 10 campaigns that we worked on that ultimately shaped my world in film. I lived in a high action world and it motivated clients to allow us to interpret their products in a ‘reality’ that made that era special.”

The post is part of a ten-day series that covers several performance brands and today’s post features his work with VW. The gallery has Sciroccos, Jettas, 16V GTIs, Vanagons, and everything you might remember fondly from the old magazines you had lying around when you were growing up.

According to the post, Zwart loved working with VW.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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“They had a wide range of cars back then ranging from the Scirocco to the Vanagon with a GTI in-between. The first series of ads here are from another one of the “inserts” that were very special to shoot. An insert allowed the client and agency to control the paper stock, the printing and the placement in the magazine, so as a photographer they are the most aspirational projects to work on. The agency came to us and asked where we would want to shoot the full line of Volkswagens and I suggested going to Aspen Colorado, since it had such diversity in backgrounds and I felt we could get the clouds we needed for the last shot. We had a helicopter and camera cars and plenty of great landscapes to shoot with, so Colorado worked out perfectly. I was so impressed by the mountains that we moved the family there a few years later. The next series of ads are slightly more typical of the times but the “Autobahn Society” ad was fun since we shut down both sides of the highway and shot with Volkswagens going both directions, so timing was somewhat tricky to get all the cars in the right position for the shot. The oncoming traffic was actually moving very slow, while the hero Golf was at speed. This image was shot with gyros and Canon F1s on Kodachrome 64 film. Same with the 16V Scirocco action ad, it was shot from our Volvo station wagon camera car with a gyro on the Canon F1. The last shot was just a fun vintage shot we shot on 8×10 at a ranch in Northern California of a classic old bug.”

AS well as being an accomplished automotive photographer, Zwart races competitively has directed ads, and was involved in the film adaptation of The Art of Racing in the Rain. He also worked with Porsche and BMW, among others.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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# 5/10 Ad Campaigns. Porsche has been one of my most consistent clients, and I have now worked with 5 agencies over the last 35+ years. There was a special time in advertising where clients did “inserts” in magazines. This way they could control the printing, the paper stock, and the position in the magazine. They were usually lavish communications, and I worked on several for Porsche, back in my print career. The first series here is an insert that I did with Chiat/Day and I also included one of the original comps we were shooting to. Funny enough, back when I shot this, the car in the comp did not exist and now thanks to Cameron Healy and the incredible restoration by @rodemory, we can now enjoy the #46 as it was when it gave Porsche it’s first class win at Le Mans. We shot this campaign @staudstudios and every day we were delivered different cars from the museum, it was pretty cool to just walk though the museum and pick the car we would shoot the following day. We also actually laid asphalt and concrete and gravel in the studio so there was quite a bit of production going on to stage these photos. This whole insert led you to the Indy car program that Porsche was launching that year. We even recreated the brick start finish line at Indy in the studio. The next series of photos on the 944 Turbo was to show all the differences that went into a Turbo from the standard car. We spent several days laying out all the parts on the concrete we poured in my studio, making sure that everything was in the proper position. We were shooting this in my studio in Orange County and of course the night before the final shot, we had an earthquake. We walked in fearing that all the parts we had balanced on props would have fallen down, but there was very little damage and we shot the layout of all the parts on an 8×10 view camera. The last shot shows all the people that it took to capture my shots, with my US crew @guyspangenberg, Ron Smothermon (standing in for Hans Stuck), our agency, the @renestaud crew, the Porsche factory racing team, and even @zterri joined us and cooked up some great California style tacos for the whole German crew. #PhotographedAtZwartSpeed

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