The automobile is the subject of Los Angeles-based photographer Andrew Bushʼs

hypnotic chromogenic photographs of that most beloved of American objects. In his

celebrated series of mobile portraiture Vector Portraits, Bush documents the car

culture of Southern California and of middle America too: Camaros, Impalas, Trans

Ams, Porsches and VW Beetles and the drivers who express their personality through

the cars they drive. In this strange limbo space, both public and private, Bush captures

the inherent mystery and fascination of other people. The evocative work has been

compared to Walker Evansʼ classic, equally voyeuristic photographs of New York City

subway riders from 1938-1941. Using a medium format camera on a tripod both placed

in the passengerʼs seat and a strobe light for a flash, Bushʼs photos are guerrilla

chronicles of people in the midst of driving (and often unaware they are being

photographed) down the highway. Bush records the diversity of people and the cars that

contain them in a highly narrative, seductive style that suggests film stills: an African

American family in a tomato red Cadillac, a tattooed mustached macho man in a yellow

Camaro, a Barbie-like woman in a hot pink car. Created from 1989 to 1991, Vector

Portraits shows how intimately American self-identification is tied up with the

automobile. He renders his drivers with a blend of voyeuristic fascination: quirkiness,

comedy and sometimes even despair are all present, depending upon the attitude of the

driver. The title for the series comes from the dual meaning of vector, as an agent that

contains or carries and the physics concept of the distance between point A and point

B. “Cars represent many things,” says Bush “style, fetish, and will always be an index of

social status. If I see someone driving a Bugatti Veyron I am curious—I want to see who

is driving that million-dollar car.”


Bushʼs work has shown alongside some of the most revered photographs of our age

including Larry Sultan and Philip-Lorca diCorcia. His work is included in many prominent

collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art,

the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. His Vector Portraits

were assembled in a 2008 Yale University Press book Drive.