Get to Know the Artist: Q&A with Art of the Automobile Photographer Steven Edson

June 6, 2023

“The Art of the Automobile” is the topic and title of the most recent exhibit on display at the Bedford Free Public Library Artist Gallery. On display through July 11 are a dozen large photographs capturing the beauty in the design of automobiles through the ages – from antique to modern high-end performance vehicles. The photos are a small selection from “The Art of the Automobile” series by Arlington artist Steven Edson. 

We emailed with Steven Edson to learn more about the artist, his background, and photography subjects. 

Did you grow up in the area? 

I was born in NYC, and when I was pretty young, we moved to New Rochelle, NY, where my Dad continued to work in NYC. After attending and graduating from Mass College of Art and Design, where I got my BFA, I have stayed in the Boston area ever since. 

How did you get started in photography/art? 

We always had a camera around that was used for family occasions. Photography was always a part of documenting important milestones and holiday get-togethers. I got my first commercial job when I was 14 years old after a neighbor asked me to photograph her wedding.

Do you do any other forms of art besides photography? 

After more than 50 years of working in photography, I am still amazed at the ability of the camera to describe our environments, people, and objects with such extreme clarity. I certainly haven’t exhausted what I want to do with the medium, so I continue to look and wait for inspiration to reach out and demand my attention.

Is art your full-time job? 

Yes, it is. I sell my work to people who want my photographs to grace the walls of their homes and offices. Owning original art which resonates with a collector creates a special relationship and dialogue with the art.

I went to college and studied photography as a fine art medium. After four years, I realized that the only photographers selling at that time were either dead or had commercialized their vision. Since being dead wasn’t a realistic option, I went the commercial route, where I started working as a freelance photographer for magazines, corporations, design firms, and advertising agencies on a project-by-project basis. I always continued making my images while I worked on client projects all over the globe. In many cases, the ability to travel on a client’s budget enabled me to reach places I would never have explored.

What is your favorite subject to photograph? 

That’s almost like asking which of my two children I love the most. 

More concisely, whatever is in front of me at a given moment inspires me to look more closely at what I see. I have multiple personal projects that I continue to work on, and I am always open to exploring new subject matter. I love photographing people anywhere, on the streets, and shooting environmental portraits, maybe best of all, as the human face is always unique and full of emotion.

Why cars? 

  • Cars are all around us. They are beautiful and represent thousands of hours of research and experimentation regarding aerodynamics, speed, human comforts, and safety. 
  • There’s an incredible history of almost 150 years of car designs and innovations.
  • I love industrial design, and manufacturers continue to develop new styling and performance features while keeping the sales pipeline moving forward.
  • I have spent many a mile sitting in cars, shopping for cars, driving cars, and photographing cars, while also photographing at cross-country race tracks and drag racing tracks. 

What are your favorite cars? 

I love the styling that occurred in the 1930s thru the early 1960s. Both in North America and with European designs in France, England, and Italy. In many models, there wasn’t a lot of consideration given to the weight of a car as fuel was relatively inexpensive, so style features with excessive chrome detailing, tail-lights, dashboards and instrument panels, hood ornaments, massive bumpers, fancy grills were given over to abundance along with detailed consideration and execution. 

1950 Jaguar XK-120 Roadster. From “The Art of the Automobile” by Steven Edson. Copyright Steven Edson.

What do you drive? 

I have been a fan of driving Jaguars for many years, but not when GM bought and Americanized the line-up of Jaguar models. Unfortunately, they took an elite brand and added a bunch of plastic parts to it. Thankfully Tata Group, a multi-national conglomerate, bought them and brought the car back to a quality driving experience. Still glitchy at times, but a fun and powerful ride.

Do you have any advice for photographers? 

In some ways, photographing a car is easy because there it is, and in many cases, it isn’t moving. That said, many photographers don’t work hard enough or long enough to make a photograph their own, and that is truly where the art comes into play. It often takes going back to a subject and continuing working on it until a photographer can make an image their own instead of simply copying something they have seen elsewhere. In a world where everyone has a camera with them all the time, it’s essential to know what has come before us so we aren’t thinking that what we are doing is brilliant when we are only copying other people’s works and images.

“The Art of the Automobile” is open to the public during regular library hours and is made possible with support from the Library Arts Steering Committee and the Friends of the Bedford Free Public Library. Edson shares more of his art on this website:

The artist is also giving a giving presentation in Bedford on Tuesday, June 27 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Library’s first floor Meeting Room. The event is free and open to the public. Edson says the presentation “will provide anyone interested in seeing more of my work, hearing about my process, and learning about a brief history of the automobile as they relate to my images.” Information can be found on the library website:

And if you are interested in cars – The Bedford Citizen’s “Classic Cars of Bedford” is co-hosting a Coffee, Breakfast, and Cars event coming up on Sunday, June 18 from 8 a.m. to  11 a.m. at Peppers Grille. All are invited. 

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