Photographer Sam Christmas leans against the side of a Volvo XC40 in Oslo, inspecting his camera

City

Behind the lens: the XC40 in Oslo

The smart, practical XC40 is both enabler and star as we join photographer Sam Christmas on a photo shoot in Oslo.

PHOTOGRAPHY: BRUCE HORAK & SAM CHRISTMAS

Plenty of room for photography kit in the Volvo XC40

Space is something that is often in short supply for photographer Sam Christmas. For starters, at 1.93m tall, Sam isn’t an easy fit for some cars. And in his job as a photographer, working for brands such as Barbour, Edwin Jeans and GQ, he’s required to carry around lots of bulky, oddly-shaped equipment. It’s not just cameras: batteries, cases, flashes, lighting and tripods are all part of the photographer’s lot. All of this, and more, is on board as we join Sam and his assistant Bruce Horak on location in Oslo, shooting the new XC40.

Thankfully, the XC40 packs a lot of space – and versatility – into a comparatively compact package. All of Sam’s kit fits in with ease, which is just as well since our first stop is Krypton film, a photography and film studio in Oslo’s Torshov district, where we pick up even more lighting and camera gear. The wide tailgate opening and flat load floor of the XC40 are particularly helpful as Bruce slides boxes and bags into the car. Loading and unloading the car is made even easier by the power-operated hands-free tailgate. It allows us to open or close it using a button on the car’s remote control, tailgate or dashboard, or even by a gentle kick under the rear bumper – perfect when you have a pile of heavy or bulky items, like camera gear, in your arms.

As we move from location to location, we make full use of the smart storage features that make the XC40 as versatile as it is spacious. The folding load floor is particularly useful because it can be set up in different configurations, to adapt to changing needs. For Sam, it’s a great way to keep kit of all shapes and sizes organised. “It’s really useful,” Sam says. “You can pack it so that delicate items are safe and others are easy to access. It also means you can keep larger and smaller things separate from each other.” The load floor can also be removed, creating a space deep enough for tall, bulky items.

The storage in the front of the cabin is equally impressive, and Sam singles out the unusually large door bins for praise: “The front door pockets are amazingly spacious,” he says. “They’re really handy because you can stash things such as laptops and notebooks there when you’re jumping in and out of the car a lot.”

Photography Assistant Bruce Horak loads a large case of photography equipment into the trunk of a Volvo XC40

As we explore Oslo in the XC40, its centre console becomes an extension of Sam’s world. A hook that folds neatly out of the glove compartment is the perfect place to keep bags of supplies tidied away, stopping them sliding around the floor as we enjoy the car’s agile handling. The large cubby under the armrest becomes a handy place to put a long zoom lens and a couple of hard drives, and there’s a space ahead of the gear lever where Sam’s phone can be stored and wirelessly charged at the same time. The interior of the XC40 is so well thought out, says Sam: “There’s a space for everything, so I know I can find what I’m looking for quickly.” It’s a huge help because, despite the meticulous planning behind the shoot, Sam’s approach is to “be open to possibilities along the way”. The XC40 helps enable this kind of spontaneity.

As we zip around the city, Sam muses on the merits of the XC40: “It’s a car that’s the perfect size for me, with space for all my kit, but not so big that it would be an issue to find parking spaces,” he says. “It manages to be both practical and fun. I like it a lot.”