A Matchbox Car Collection Becomes Art

Showable Art - Mercury White Police car Matchbox Series No. 55/73
Photo ©Jeff Kauffman, All Rights Reserved

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Until the early 1970s, Janet worked most of her adult life at a corner store in a rural Pennsylvania town. As each new toy reached the store, Janet purchased it for a growing collection. “They might be worth something someday”, she would say. When I grew up and moved away, she proudly gave me the collection of over 100 toys, coupled with a wood display case hand-crafted by her husband George. Janet (1917-2019) and George (1915-2016) are my grandparents.

The Carface project is a series of photographs of the “faces” of these toy Matchbox cars from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. I chose a head-on view of the toys to portray the strongest, most unique part of any subject, the face. The use of square composition, shallow focus, and a rich black background together emphasize the power of this portrayal. The vintage toy cars are nearly as old as I am, and they too bear the scratches, chips, and accumulated imperfections from life’s wear and tear.

The first print edition of the project features 16 signed and numbered pieces, each limited to 15 prints. Each 16×16-inch image is printed on Hahnemuehle Fine Art Pearl archival paper. Pieces from this edition can be purchased as fine art originals at Saatchi Art.

Selections from the project were shown at SCOPE Miami 2018, and the project has been featured in Float MagazineISO1200 Photography Magazine, and Ed Verosky instructional videos.

Artist’s Notes

I shot and produced in my home studio. To capture the images, I used a Nikon D800 camera with the Nikkor 105mm macro lens, tethered with TetherTools cabling to an Apple MacBook Pro running Adobe Lightroom.

The primary light source was a Dynalight flash head inside a small Profoto softbox and triggered with a Pocket Wizard. I used white and black note cards from an office supply store for both positive and negative fill. The background was a black foam core. I positioned the cars on an 18-inch black ceramic tile from a home store, providing a bit of gloss to reflect highlights.

Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop served as my retouching, raw conversion, and printing tools. The first edition was printed using the Epson 3880 Stylus Pro printer and Epson K3 inks.

The Artist

Jeff Kauffman is an art photographer in Austin, Texas USA. His work has appeared worldwide in publications, art festivals, and commercial venues. Selected works are available for purchase from Jeff’s online art store as well as these fine-art and image licensing outlets.

You can follow Jeff directly on FacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn social media platforms, as well as his website.

Volkswagon 1600 Saloon, Matchbox Series No. 15. Photograph by Jeff Kauffman.
Volkswagon 1600 Saloon, ©Jeff Kauffman, All Rights Reserved
Ferarri Berlinetta, Matchbox Series No. 75. Photograph by Jeff Kauffman.
Ferarri Berlinetta, ©Jeff Kauffman, All Rights Reserved
Showable Art -Pontiac Convertible, Matchbox Series No. 39. Photography by Jeff Kauffman.
Pontiac Convertible, ©Jeff Kauffman, All Rights Reserved
Mercury White Police car Matchbox Series No. 55/73. Photography by Jeff Kauffman.
Mercury White Police Car, ©Jeff Kauffman, All Rights Reserved
Ford Cortina, Matchbox Series No. 25. Photograph by Jeff Kauffman.
Ford Cortina, ©Jeff Kauffman, All Rights Reserved
Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, Matchbox Series No. 69. Photograph by Jeff Kauffman
Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, ©Jeff Kauffman, All Rights Reserved