Photos & Projects

Shooting in the Morgan Motor Company Factory

September 29, 2018

The Morgan Motor Company is located in Malvern, just a few miles down the road me in Worcester. I’ve been a professional photographer for over ten years now, and in that whole time it’s been an ambition of mine to be able to freely take photos inside the factory. I’ve enquired a few times, but as you can imagine, they get a lot of people asking the question…

A couple of years ago, me and another local photographer and friend of mine, James Greenoff, set up a little collaborative project called “Shoot Rewind”. The idea was that we were going to shoot and present a small selection of our work under this new banner, all of which would either be shot on film, or at very least with the more deliberate and considered approach we take to shooting film. Both of us do a lot of run-of-the-mill commercial work – events, corporate head shots, etc – there’s nothing is wrong with any of this type of work, but we both identified a different subset of commercial work that we enjoyed more than anything else. Both of us find shooting people doing hands-on, high-skilled jobs fascinating.

To me, there’s something almost indescribably interesting about watching people make things, especially when it takes a hard learned set of skills to do so. There’s a lot of things made in the modern world that are mass produced by machines with low levels of human input. There are arguments for and against these sorts of processes that I’m not going to get into here, but regardless of all of that, seeing something being made without a lot of automation and mechanisation is to me incredibly satisfying.

Me and James often reflect on the parity between this and the process of shooting film, or at least shooting with higher levels of forethought and consideration. There’s a possibility that some of our fascination comes from the fact that we take a lot of pleasure in the more hands on approach to photography that shooting film brings to the table. Critics of film photography often ask why people bother when the same (or very similar) can be achieved with digital so much cheaper and so much easier. You could say the same for a Morgan car. They might not be so niche if they weren’t so meticulously crafted by hand, but those who appreciate them – similarly to those who appreciate film photography – buy into the process, the consideration and the effort that goes into to them.

This has become the “sales pitch” for Shoot Rewind. We don’t attempt to sell it often, but sometimes, when you meet the right person who just gets it, it sells itself. This was how we ended up finding ourselves with free rein to shoot in a few of the rooms at the Morgan Factory recently. James got chatting to one of the guys there – someone who actually also happens to be a hobbyist photographer – he told him what we do, why and how, and it seems to have struck a bit of a chord, so he invited us for a bit of a shoot.

These were my final results. Shot on the Plaubel Makina with Ilford HP5+ at EI1600 and digitised with pixl-latr, my Sony A7riii and a Nikon 90mm macro lens. We were there for about 3 hours, and though I shot a lot more than 6 photos, these were the ones that made the cut.

This particular tool for making the wheel arches has been in use in the factory for longer than anyone can remember:

We’re now working towards a couple of projects with Morgan, with one of them being particularly exciting… Specifically as it involves this 1930 Leica 1:

…more on that at some point in the future as for now we are keeping the details of the project largely under wraps. But to say it’s given me goose pimples every time I tell someone about it is genuinely no exaggeration – I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it, and can’t wait to share the details!

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  • Reply
    Julian Higgs
    September 29, 2018 at 11:25 am

    Hamish, this is just beautiful. Everything I aspire to do myself. Great project. Well executed. Appropriate technology. So similar to my Vinyl Factory project it’s spooky. Great work.

  • Reply
    Adam Laws
    September 29, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    Great images Hamish. Really looking forward to following the projects – I’m not envious at all.

  • Reply
    Daniel Castelli
    September 29, 2018 at 11:59 pm

    This is a bittersweet set of pics for me. My brother restored a couple of Austin Healey’s {3000 Mk III} back in the 1970’s {how he cursed the carbs on the Healy!} When your article appeared, I would have loved to share it with him. He would have so enjoyed the story and shots of these unique, magnificent cars. He too, had an appreciation for the hand built quality that master craftspeople bring to a piece of machinery. But, he lost his long battle with cancer earlier this summer @ 72. He had a soft spot for any British sportscar: MGB’s, Bug-Eyed Sprites, MG’s. Over his life he owned them all.

  • Reply
    September 30, 2018 at 4:47 pm

    Story is ubercool! Visit to Morgan and ability to see the process had to be magnificent experience.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 3, 2018 at 3:23 pm

      I can’t even tell you – the one guy, I just watched him work for about half an hour. We had a chat about what he was doing, why, how long it takes etc. Fascinating stuff!

  • Reply
    Tom Aspin
    October 1, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    It is just an amazing place to visit.
    I went thee on business in the early 2000s ( to talk to them about engine mountings, if you must know). I can remember being in the main office building / reception. and being able to see both Peter and Charles Morgan in their offices.

    From the pictures, I’m pleased to see that it hasn’t changed much since!

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