Over the past five years, he has attended hundreds of car shows and taken photos of some of the most legendary cars in the Japanese automotive scene.
Growing up, Marcus Lam used a compact camera to take pictures of his Hot Wheels toys. Now, he photographs automotive legends in Metro Vancouver to continue the history and tradition of Japanese supercars.
Interested in cars from a young age, Lam attended his first car meeting about five years ago and packed his camera. Hundreds of cars meet later and Lam is well known in the Vancouver automotive scene for his work. Even with his evocative images of some of Metro Vancouver’s cleanest construction combined with stylized editing, Lam says there’s still a lot to learn and master.
“A good photo should make you feel something”
“In photography you can never learn too much, you will always learn something new,” Lam said. “It’s about putting your car in a really nice background and a really nice foreground so you can tell the foreground subject and the background apart and a good shot should make you feel something.”
After seeing so many highly sought-after cars, Lam says that over time, he sometimes becomes numb to a vehicle’s fame. That was far from the case when he saw the car that was so formative for his passion for Japanese cars, the orange and black Veilside RX7 that drifted onto screens in 2006. Fast And Furious: Tokyo Drift.
“It felt like the only car that had been kind of like one of my childhood dream cars,” Lam said, adding that it’s often the people behind the wheel that make the experience that much more interesting. . “It’s not even about the cars because most of the time a shoot is like a date with the owner, we chat, become very good friends.”
Lam noted that there are a few “bad apples” in Vancouver’s motoring community who he believes can give others a bad name due to reckless driving and a general lack of common sense. Deep down, he says, most enthusiasts are respectful people and just want to have fun and share automotive culture.
“Keeping the tradition of Japanese automotive culture alive in Vancouver”
Through his photography, Lam has partnered with a friend’s brand called revive199x.com which focuses on bringing ’90s styling back to modified cars.
“It’s just about carrying on the tradition of Japanese car culture in Vancouver. Trying to promote it to the new wave of enthusiasts,” Lam said, explaining that many people buy the brand’s stickers to get into the scene.
“The brand exists to try to give them a taste of what is proper Japanese styling for cars,” Lam added.
Lam attributes the fascination and obsession with these cars to the large Asian population of Richmond and Vancouver. He says many of his friends are from Hong Kong, which has a big scene for Japanese cars from the 80s and 90s.
The lure of the inaccessible
“A lot of them come here with that interest in mind,” Lam said. “They’ve been kind of inaccessible because they’ve never been sold here so to get one you have to import one or find one that’s been imported and I think that’s the fascination of having things that we didn’t easily have here as one thing.”
Like most things, Vancouver’s automotive scene has been heavily disrupted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with automotive encounters becoming a rarity. Interestingly, the pandemic has also offered unique benefits to car enthusiasts. With fewer people commuting to work each day, the streets of Metro Vancouver carried significantly less traffic and paved the way for longer, more enjoyable commutes. Lower fuel prices were also a boon for those with heavier gas pedals.
Lam says that as the restrictions open up, the motoring community is eager to gather again to show off their rides.