Introducing Wangan Warriors photographer: Alex Kamsteeg

Hi, my name is Alex and I’m a 25 year old guy from The Netherlands. Since I was little I’m fascinated by science and engineering. Instead of playing soccer or joining the boy scouts I went to a little hobby club in my hometown where I built stuff like a 1:10 scale model of a boat driven by an electric motor from an alarm clock. It almost sank on its maiden voyage due to water entering the hull via the shaft tunnel which prompted me to start building a working model of one of those big floating cranes they use to salvage sunken ships.

Cars always attracted my attention and I had a huge collection of those small Matchbox cars. My favorite one was a model from an AW11 MR2 with weird plastic suspension that I took apart many times in an effort to understand how it worked. I later upgraded that car with rubber tires from one of my dad’s 25-year old Dinky Toy truck which looked ridiculous but greatly improved the handling on the smooth wooden floor in my parents’ house!

When I grew up I completely skipped the scooters and mopeds, I’ve never ever owned one in my whole life. They lack 2 wheels and computers were way more interesting at that time. I quickly mastered the Art of Overclocking, which is basically the same as engine tuning: Try to get it as fast as you can. It’s amazing what you can achieve with a soldering iron, some resistors and a few bits of wire in terms of speed, smoke and fire. I later moved on to writing software, something I now do for a living.

I bought my first car, a Toyota Yaris, when I was 22 and it got me in the whole car thing again. Because I had a few questions about my Yaris I joined the Dutch Yarisclub and I started visiting meetings and car shows. I had an old digital compact camera at that time which I used to take photos of the work I did on my car, to write tutorials and shoot pictures at meetings. One thing led to another and after another compact camera I bought my first DSLR.

At Automaxx Streetpower 2011 I attempted to shoot cars on the track for the first time. And well, the results sucked. Because some friends and I were planning to go on a petrolhead road trip to the UK and I really wanted some nice pictures of that, I started reading everything I could find about automotive photography. I bought a new lens and when we went on our epic road trip, I tried to bring everything I read in practice. We visited the British Drift Championship and a truck racing event at Donington Park and the Easter Thunderball at Santa Pod and I shot an enormous amount of photos.

When I got home and looked through the pictures, I was pleasantly surprised by the results. But more importantly, it jumpstarted my interest in drifting. After a visit to an event in Denmark with a drift track and some cars of the Scandinavian Drift Series, I decided to contact the Dutch NL Drift Series to ask if I could shoot at their next round. Against all my expectations they said yes and I’m a regular NL Drift Series photographer ever since. I visit almost every round of both the summer and the winter championship and I think you´ll see some coverage of that in the near future.

Although I prefer to shoot cars doing what they’re build for, driving and racing, I occasionally shoot stationary cars. I think I´m a rare breed of photographer because I like to shoot cars that are not the fastest nor the most notable. Those cars are often overlooked but sometimes they can be quite surprising in terms of modifications or performance.

I try to reflect a certain mood or tell a story with a photograph. Using the background can be very important, it’s part of telling the story. What kind of car do you see on the picture? What’s it used for?

Although I almost exclusively shoot automotive stuff I try not to forget the human side of our hobby and I like to include people in a photograph, preferably without them knowing. They can direct the attention of the viewer to parts of the photograph or reflect the mood at the time I pressed the shutter.

I´ve got a strong preference for Japanese cars. Their design philosophy of building cars that just work as reliable and simple as possible is something I, as an engineer, admire. And of course they build some of the most iconic cars and engines of my generation. Everybody even remotely interested in cars recognizes the codenames 2JZ, R34 and JZZ80 or knows what “Type-R” means.
Wangan Warriors is a community built around those Japanese cars, with a strong focus on performance. So when Rens approached me and asked me if I would be interested in writing and photographing for the Wangan Warriors blog I said yes without thinking twice. It’s the only Dutch JDM car community not brand or type-bound and contributing to it will be awesome. I hope we can bring you some great event coverage, car features and other exciting stuff you like to view and read!

– Alex Kamsteeg

Photos by Alex Kamsteeg