Don’t ever go up to budding automotive photographer Hariharan Rajalingam and utter the words, “It’s just a car.”

“A lot of hard work goes into the modification of a car. Building engines and cars is a lot like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. Some people express their personality through their cars. So, no, it’s not just a car,” the 22-year-old offers during this interview at Menara Star in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

The final-year law student’s passion for automobiles was ignited when his mother gave him his first car four years ago.

“It’s actually the family’s old Proton Wira, with which I kind of have a love-hate relationship. The engine died on me recently,” he explains with a laugh. But that car spurred Hariharan to read up more on automotive mechanics.

“Now, I’m able to tell a car’s model by the sound of the engines,” he says, beaming.

Insatiable curiosity, coupled with a love for photography, soon pushed the man to set up H5 Photography, his own automotive photography business page, on Facebook in 2016.

“What started off as a hobby of taking pictures of my friend’s cars, quickly became a way for me to make a bit of pocket money,” he says.

The idea to set up a business also came about when Hariharan noticed a lack of automotive photographers in Malaysia.

So, what is it about automotive photography that makes it so appealing?

It’s all about one’s passion and perspective, says Hariharan.

Photographer“Some people document their fashion every day, and some people take 40 bathroom selfies. For car enthusiasts, photos of their car is a way for them to show their passion and pride.

“Some owners want to document the modification of their cars, while others simply love showing off their car to the public,” he explains.

On Hariharan’s part, he regards every aspect of a car as photo-worthy, and this boils down to even the bolts!

But while owners are willing to fork out thousands of ringgit for modifications to their cars, Hariharan says they are still warming up to the idea of paying for professionally-shot photos of their cars.

“That breaks my heart because a lot of automotive photographers in this country are hardly seen or heard,” he says.

However, he is optimistic about the future of automotive photography in the country.

Last year, Hariharan successfully organised a car meet in Shah Alam that attracted over 160 car owners. That success, he says, is indication of the niche but zealous car community in the country.

Moving forward, Hariharan will continue to hone his passion. Of course, one’s got to ask: What’s his dream car?

“That’s a very tough question! Any car person would have a hard time answering that. But I suppose anything Japanese,” he says.