Behind the lens: a quick chat with one of MCM's camera gurus

Behind the lens: a quick chat with one of MCM's camera gurus

This week we’re sitting down with one of the BTS homies who help make MCM happen every week. From shooting video and stills, to spannering on projects, washing cars, and helping edit videos together, to being part of our race team in Chasing Midnight, James Greig has been there to help. He’s also an absolute car fanatic who loves Kei cars, Civics, JDM 90s icons, and mega-power late-model machinery. 

G’day James, tell us who you are and where you’re from.

“I'm James, I’m 28 and I live in Sydney but am originally from South Africa. I shoot photos and videos for Mighty Car Mods, and help edit episodes together, too.”

How long have you been shooting stills and video?

“I've always preferred shooting stills over videos. I reckon before working at MCM it was like 90 percent stills, and maybe 10 percent video.”


Have you always worked in automotive media?

“Before working with MCM I worked for Channel Nine as a video producer, doing basically everything except for cars. So, I made videos for Channel 9's website but in my private life I concentrated on shooting photos in the automotive scene. Today I’m doing everything automotive but the ratio of stills to video is now probably 80% video to 20% photos.”

Do you have a big kit for stills and video?

“The Stills and video kits are actually pretty pretty similar. We're lucky now that stills cameras are so good at shooting video. I have two top-of-the-range Canon R3s, one set for video and one set for stills, especially when I'm working on the show; we need a lot of stills for social content. I’d say 95% of the video shot for the show is on a Canon R3 with an RF24-70.”


Did you start with a very simple camera set up?

I started off on a Canon 7D and a 50mm 1.4mm lens, which is mid-range stuff. I was lucky that my school spent quite a bit of money in equipment so I got friendly with the Visual Arts department and they bought a lot of very nice gear, like a Canon 5D Mark III which was current top-stage stuff. Then a whole slew of L-series lenses. We had to do Saturday sport, but one of the sports was Media Group. So my sport was taking photos of all the other Saturday sports using all of Waverley’s very, very fancy Canon gear.”


What do you prefer?

“The photographer in me still prefers photos by country mile, but I like making videos too.”


You've shot a lot of GT-R events, roll racing, and stuff like that, too.

“Yes, I've been freelance shooting for Motive Video for probably six or seven years now. I've shot almost every GT-R Festival and I've shot their Cootamundra events for the last six years. So, I think I've done like 20 or 30 events at Cootamundra now. I've also shot Powercruise and World Time Attack Challenge, and a few big events like MotoGP as well.”


Anyone around the MCM scene a long time will know your cars. Run us through some of your favourite builds, because you've had a lot of cool cars.

“Yeah. I've had a lot of cars [laughs]. I've actually owned a lot of the same of model of car, like I've had seven Cuores and they’re still one of my favourite cars. Actually, the little red Cuore that was given away on the show a couple years ago was actually mine.

“People around the car scene would recognise my SKD55S plates which have been on pretty much every car I've owned and, if it's not that plate, my SKD555 plates will usually on the second car.”


There have been some special cars in that line-up though, haven’t there?

“The Cuore was one. I was originally inspired by the blue turd on the show all those years ago and when I was looking for my first car, that's what I really, really wanted. I ended up getting a hold of a Barina as my first car, which lasted three weeks and then, after that, my Cuore.

"My blue one was originally an auto and had 40,000km. I bought it from the second owner, who'd barely ever driven it, did a manual swap on that, and sort of pushed it to track use."

"That was a really good car I had while I had a lot of other big cars. But then, after three or four years with it, the red one popped up and it was a one-owner car with 29,000ks and it was factory manual. It was the facelift model, had air conditioning and I decided to do a no budget build on it to do the car that I always wanted when I was younger.

“I reckon I spent like probably close to $30k on that little Daihatsu, which is a bit silly, but I loved every second of it. I've met some of the closest people that I'm friends with now because of that car, and that's always my favourite thing about cars.”


Your Evo was pretty wild, too.

“Yeah I had a Tommi Makinen Evo, which had no bolt untouched. It had a built engine had some really crazy rally suspension on it so it was a cornering machine around Luddenham. It was really, really quick.”


MCM viewers will know your latest project, too.

My most recent build is my turbo D-series EK Civic, which is a lot of fun. I've always been into Civics but since actually owning one, like I fully, fully get it. I actually recently bought another one to hopefully do something special with, too.”

Bikes are are a big part of your life, too, right?

“Dad loves cars, but he's a bike person through and through, like he used to race bikes in South Africa. But I was banned from getting a bike… until I was old enough to do what I want and I got myself a Triumph Street Triple. I've now upgraded to a 765 Street Triple RS, which I absolutely adore.”

Where do you like taking photos of cars?

“A couple of my favourite spots would be in the city, especially at night. Through China and Koreatown are pretty awesome spots. I love I often try and find the right environment for the car.”


Do you have a bucket list of things you’d like to achieve with MCM?

“For me, the biggest thing I wanted to do was shoot international trips, which the show has given me the opportunity to do. I've been to Malaysia, France and Japan for MCM now and I was really fortunate to be able to put a book together on the Japan trip for Turbos & Temples III. It turned out really well and I'm massively proud of that.”


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