Sleek, domed, square, round, wrap-around, forward-facing, continuous, bright. Headlights are utilitarian… mostly. They illuminate the way. An obvious necessity, they might not appear as the most important design feature on a car, but as The Verge’s staff photographer, when I shoot cars, I have noticed that they determine the personality of the vehicle. The shape, type of bulb, and amount of omitted light have come a long way since the birth of automobiles — in fact the first cars didn’t even have headlights. They became commonplace in cars in the 1920s.
Contemporary cars generally use a variety of lighting systems. More economical cars have traditionally used halogen bulbs, a practical choice because of their low cost, and rugged, reliable nature. High intensity discharge (HID) bulbs are expensive, and high-definition LEDs even more so, which is why we see them on luxury vehicles, such as the Mercedes-Benz E400. Whatever the wattage or the bulb, I was drawn to photograph headlights because of how different they are from car to car. The closer you get to them, the more abstract they become, with layers of reflective materials, swoops of metal, or, in one case, an octogonal shiny casing around a bulb, and another that used patterned silver-white material surrounding it. There is immense visual variety and it’s always interesting.
At The Verge we cover a wide range of cars — from popular Hondas to exclusive Rolls-Royce models. Here are some of my favorite headlights from the many cars of 2017.