Last month, BFA Photography student Nico Sforza was hard at work on his thesis project, which documents his father’s collection of toy cars. Then, just a few weeks later, came a call from BFA Photography Chair Stephen Frailey: Would Sforza shoot the 2015 Corvette Z06 Convertible for its public debut at the New York Auto Show?
If Sforza was taken aback by the coincidence, he didn’t waste any time gearing up for the shoot. A fourth-year student with a concentration in still-life photography, he immediately found his concept in the lighting design for a photograph he had made for his thesis project. He also sought advice from veteran still-life photographer and onetime SVA student Halley Ganges, whose clients include leading American magazines and retailers.
“I wanted to capture the birth of something new, using a ray of light,” Sforza says. He found his calling in still-life photography because, “it’s really the art of lighting. Like sculptors use their hands and tools, I sculpt with light.”
In late March Sforza was flown to GM Design in Warren, Michigan, where he received the brief and a 1/18 scale model of the Z06, and met the GM team. This was an opportunity to make a photograph that would hang on kids’ bedroom walls, he was told. Back in New York, he was given just one day with the actual car at Windmill Studios
in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He borrowed $100,000 of equipment from the BFA Photography Department, and GM lighting supervisor Brad May was on hand. Assisting Sforza on the shoot were brother Luca Sforza (BFA 2011 Photography), BFA Photography students Jeremy Cohen and Kyle Thompson, and Alex Lopez.
Sforza was one of only three New York-based college students invited to photograph the Z06. This was the first time Chevrolet commissioned students to photograph an all-new vehicle before its public reveal, but by all accounts it was a success.
“The students had a challenging assignment because the work I see being done on a daily basis by our design team is so good. So for the students to go into this area was obviously going to be tough by comparison. But they came through,” said GM Vice President for Global Design Ed Welburn in a letter to the students.
For the final phase of the competition, Sforza’s photographs of the Z06 are online on Corvette’s Facebook page, as he vies for the Grand Prize. Fans can vote here as often as once a day through Tuesday, April 22. Sforza’s photographs are also on view at the 2014 New York International Auto Show through April 27.
Images from top down: Sforza’s toy car photo; photo of 2015 Corvette Z06 Convertible by Sforza; design students Dan Wang (Rochester Institute of Technology), Mike Finkelstein (Pratt Institute)
and Nico Sforza (School of Visual Arts) meet with General Motors Lead Interior Designer Performance Cars Ryan Vaughan and Corvette Design Director Tom Peters with the new 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Convertible Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at the New York International Auto Show in New York, New York. (Photo by Steve Fecht for Chevrolet)