A journal of my life as an editorial Photographer

Archive for December, 2009

Blog update #7 November shoots

It was nice to have a week of no shoots to get caught up. The next assignment was Nov 10,11 at Buttonwillow raceway for the Super Lap Battle for Import tuner, super Street and Honda tuning.  Super Lap Battle isn’t exactly a race in the traditional sense, its not wheel to wheel racing. The point of time attack is to get the single fastest lap time in your class (the best run of several heats throughout the day is your winning time). At the  Super Lap Battle runs in different classes: Street, Limited and Unlimited. The other event was the Import tuner Evo vs sti challenge, this is  a time attack but just for evos and Subaru sti’s.

Driving on I-5 to Buttonwillow

Since the the 10th was an early day I drove out on the 9th to spend the next couple nights at the luxurious motel 6.  This is one of the worst hotels I stay in, the beds are like sleeping on a rock, the whole area smells like cow manure and there are flys everywhere. The front desk even provides guests with fly swatters.

Group shot of Evo/Sti competitors, well at least the ones that were still running, this year over half of the cars had mechanical problems.

One of the  cars for Import Tuner

The evo Sti day was a little more work what the super lap battle. After a full day of shooting, my self and other photographer Luke Munnell had to shoot 8 vehicles as well as do a 8 car group driving shot around the track and an 8 car group shot. A lot to get done in a short time, being winter and it gets dark so early and the event ended at 3pm there was a lot to shoot in just a couple hours. Luckily I have done this type of shoot several times over the years so for me its no big deal.

Nov. 12 drove to Walnut Creek, Ca to attend my Tanta Tina’s funeral…that’s all I’m going to say about that.

The week of Nov 16 I had 3 shoots. First one was the  5 Zigan for an rsx photoshoot at their warehouse, for Import tuner.  A simple shoot but one that had to be done quickly. My arrival time was 10am and had to finish by 1130 because the container was arriving to take the car back to Japan, plus the car could not be driven anywhere since it was a race car and the location was not the best especially at mid day.  So the boring race car in the warehouse because we did not plan better to shoot it at the race track. Oh well it came out nice though

on the 19th went to kraftwerks in Ontario, Ca for an environmental portrait of Oscar Jackson and his son for Honda tuning.

Nov 20  for Import Tuner, had to shoot Alex Pfeifers drift car at Irwindale Raceway. Shoot was scheduled at noon but when I got there he was  still applying the stickers to the car  which took almost 2 hours to do.  No big deal but there was deadline because there was a race scheduled for 3pm. I used my Dynalites with the external battery supply which gave me 100 watt seconds of power. Considering I had only 20 minutes including setup and teardown I was pretty happy with this shoot.

My next assignments were during Thanksgiving weekend for Heavy Hitters Magazine.  My editor say we had to be at the location at 9am in West Hills on Thanksgiving Day. I told him that ill be there but had to leave by 1pm so I could get to my parents house in south Orange County.  If this was any other mag I probably wouldn’t have worked on that day but Heavy Hitters always provides me with great content and the shoots are always a challenge more than the typical car feature. It was a fairly simple shoot we had to do group shots of the cars then shoot each individually and then shoot the house plus any detail shots that we saw. Oh did I mention that the cars were 3 Lamborghinis and an Enzo Ferrari. So pretty nice shoot

On November 27th I had another Heavy Hitters shoot this one was going to take place over 2 days in two locations. The subject was Prince Oliver from Germany.  First we shot at his warehouse in Santa Monica where the bulk of his collection is stored. Upon arriving we were greated by the armed  bodyguard who was pretty cool  and fit the stereotype of every German badguy from a Bruce Willis film. Anyway at the warehouse I was surprised to see so many American cars I was expecting to see a stable of exotic European Cars. That day was a 5 hour shoot, I shot interview photos, the cars in the warehouse and photos of the prince along with his bodyguard with the Rolls…

On Monday November 30, was round 2 with Prince Oliver. This time we went to his house in Beverly Hills where finished the shoot. There we photographed the house, the other cars including a perfectly restored Gullwing Mercedes and a few setup photos of the Prince and his fiance.

Before we started working, the Prince invited us to breakfast. Since he is German, I was hoping for a meat fest with piles of sausages, etc. but what we got was a healthy breakfast, after the maid (dressed in a traditional maid uniform) served the food he said that there is no fat or cholesterol in the food, oh well…It was really good, just not what I was hoping for. The shoot went very well and I was very happy with the results. As usual it was a lot of work but it was worth it especially when I saw how it was layed out.

The article as it appeared in Heavy Hitters

Shoots for the rest of the year were nothing special. Since this time of the year there are not a lot of photoshoots I take a lot of time off plus I used several of my furlough days. After this year I needed a break but it will start again in January with 3 weeks in Japan for the Tokyo Auto Salon and feature shoots. Japan will be a separate posting


Blog update #6 East Coast shoots

Oct 24th went home and was home for one day till I had to fly out again.  On Monday Oct 26th, I left John Wayne for the east coast for 8 days.  This trip was for European Car, Honda tuning and Super Street magazines. As usual I stayed at the Hampton Inn in Willow Grove, PA. not the fanciest hotel but its convenient to a lot of places that I need to go. I can just leave my luggage and make day trips to my photo shoots.

When I woke up on the Tuesday the 27th it was raining which is never good for photo-shoots. That day I was scheduled to shoot a slant nose Porsche at Fabspeed in Ambler, PA. Luckily the forecast for the afternoon was no rain but I still had them find a covered location in the event it rained.  I shot the interior and detail photos inside their shop, I had stopped raining for a couple hours so we went out to look for a location. After several attempts we found a perfect location which was a tree lined long driveway to a golf course.  It was nice because since it was fall there were a lot of fall leaves on the ground and in the trees. We did several passes and nailed the shoot.

For the over static shots the had found an abandoned parking structure which worked out great. Nothing special or eventful.

On the 28th I was scheduled to shoot a car for Honda tuning.  I don’t think I’ve ever had as many emails form a car owner as this one. When I was trying to figure where to shoot this, I had asked him if he was located  north, south, east, or west from Philly, his answer was I don’t know those things….yeh so much for for the intelligence of our readers. Anyway the shoot got canceled due to rain, one more car to add to the list when I go back in June of 10.

With shoot canceled I just stayed in my room the whole day and got caught up on work. Not sure what it is about hotel rooms, maybe it’s the lack of distractions but I always get a lot of work done when I’m on the road. But first before I attacked my workload I went to my favorite place to have breakfast, Daddypop’s in Hatboro, PA.  Their breakfast is simple eggs, freshly made potatoes and sausage, nothing fancy just great food and low price. they never dissapoint and is truly one of the best breakfasts you’ll get anywhere.

On the 29th my shoot was for Honda Tuning in Newark, NJ. It was a couple civic wagons. Not too many people modify these cars, they are actually pretty cool.  When I got to the location that the car owner directed me to, I was a little concerned as it just was not sure how it was going to work. It was an abandoned warehouse but not in the good sense it was a newer one, but oh well that’s what I do, create great images from whats handed to me. Once I met the car owner it all changed. He said that the location was actually inside the warehouse which was pretty cool because it was like a 20,000 square  foot empty building, good thing I brought lights. With the overcast day we did the details and the and the rig shots outside.

Inside was pretty cool but without any power it was very dark inside, it’s a good thing we had several cars to put light on the background and just give some basic illumination. It was a good shoot and was happy. After the shoot we went to an amazing diner, Tops Diner in East Newark, NJ. Wish I could have stayed around the area just to eat there a few times, but I had to be in Baltimore the next day for Super Street.  It was nice to have dinner with people who were pretty cool and interesting, not they typical car guy who the only thing they can talk about are cars…then off to the hotel off exit 11.

On  the 30th I have two cars to shoot just south of Baltimore for Super Street Magazine.  So ahead of me was a 4 hour drive and the threat of rain.  Got down there and checked out the cars which were much more interesting than I thought. Rarely do I pay attention to the exact make and model of the car because it really doesn’t matter as far was what I’m going to do with the car. But these two were very interesting as they were a couple of old school corollas that are highly modified so they were interesting to shoot.

The final shoot for this trip was on Oct 31st again south of Baltimore for European Car Magazine. It was an older m3 that was highly modified.  The owner of the car also happened to own an old Roadway warehouse so it would be a perfect place to shoot especially because of the pending rain. Not that interesting of a shoot but very happy with the results.

On that note this trip I got very lucky that 3 of my  shoots were inside otherwise I would not have been able to get them done because of the rain.  Usually I don’t go to the East Coast this late in the year usually due to the weather but I got my travel started later than usual..

The view from my hotel just south of Baltimore

On Nov. 1, I made the 4 hour drive from Baltimore to the Philadelphia airport. Once checked in I just packed  up all my gear and did some editing and some paperwork. Nov 2, flight back home.


Blog Update #5 October—–Texas

October 18 was the start of a 14 day trip, lots of flying, lots of driving and hopefully a few good shoots.  This trip I was going to be shooting for Heavy Hitters, Honda Tuning, Truckin and Mini Truckin. The same day I flew into Dallas I had two shoots one for Honda Tuning and one for Mini-Truckin just east of Fort Worth, nothing too special about these shoots except the Honda was 2 hours late.  Since my whole life is about being somewhere on time, that is one of my pet peeves is being late.

On Monday the 19th I had a car to shoot in Shreveport, LA, never been there so kinda looking forward to it.  I had a 3 hour drive from Dallas but it ended up taking 4.5 hours since I was so tired I pulled over a couple times to take a nap.  Since I had never been to Shreveport and the car I was shooting was coming from Baton Rouge I had to figure out a meeting place. To do this I used Google Earth, a really great tool, I have used this for a long time now to scout locations for areas I have never been. The area was perfect, lots of decaying buildings all within a mile of each other.

The car on the other hand was pretty lame, it had all these high performance goodies, was as low as it could go but it does not drive, have never been driven…whats the point but it had a graffiti painted engine bay. What I didn’t realize when I picked the location was that there was a homeless shelter across the street and as the end of the day approached it opened up and the dregs of Shreveport started making they way past us all asking for money and eyeballing all this expensive camera equipment. I finished as fast as possible then had an hour drive to my hotel. I would have liked to stay in Shreveport but the next day I had a 6 hour drive and wanted to lessen the drive as much as possible.

Oct. 20 drove from my hotel forget the name of the little dot on the map to Conroe, TX just north of Houston. I drove diagonally across the state. Since there wasn’t any real easy way to get there I mean no interstates I programmed the address in my Blackberry and it gave me a route that I was sure would get me lost. The whole trip would be on 2 lane Farm roads.  Driving through the center Texas…wow this is a huge state with a whole lot of nothing. After leaving my hotel I just wanted to get going so I figured I would get a few miles on me then get some coffee, big mistake after I left my hotel there was not a single place to get coffee until Houston 5 hours away.

After settling in my hotel for a bit my shoot for that day was a 3 axle mini-truck for mini truckin, it was interesting, not my taste but I’m sure someone likes it.

Houston does have some great food especially bbq, one of my favorites is Goode Company. You know this is going to be good before you even taste the food. All the signs of good bbq are there, piles of wood surround the building, there is a separate smokehouse with a steady stream of smoke coming out of the smoke stack, dining is simple just long picnic tables but most important is that you can smell the smoking meats long before you get there.

My shoots on Oct 21 for Truckin and Oct 22 were canceled due to rain so instead of staying in Houston I went back to Dallas.

My shoots for Truckin’ Magazine on Oct 21 were canceled due to rain. Instead of staying in Houston I went back to Dallas at least I would be closer to the airport and would be able to go to dinner with some friends. The drive to Dallas took longer than usual due to the rain.

The view of the drive-through from my hotel.

When arriving in Dallas, I called a friend of mine who owns Jack’s clothing in Flower Mound, TX. She needed some photos of her store so I did some interior photos and some pics with her and her dogs. After all her shop is named after her dog Jack. It was an easy shoot mostly available light with some simple lighting when people were involved. It was really nice to see someone who I haven’t seen in a few years.

On the 23 I was able to photograph another friend who I had been trying to photograph for quite a while but for one reason or another we haven’t been able to meet. We did the shoot at Kat Tattoo, we were supposed to meet around noon but due to her makeup artist canceling at the last-minute we couldn’t shoot till later in the evening. I was worried that we wouldn’t have the time to do the types of images that we both wanted.

While waiting for Katrina to get made up this guy walks in that had some unique tattoos and just a great look that I wanted to photograph. Luckily he was interested to shoot. I did a quick setup with a single speedlight inside the lastolite box and a single sunpak 120j as a rim light. I was very happy with the results for this 10 minute shoot.

Once Katina was finished with hair and makeup we started to shoot, she was amazing, I think we got several really good shots at this location and was very happy but we had to leave  and move to my hotel. Katrina recommend that I stay at NYLO it’s a really cool hip boutique hotel in Plano. The room was really good to use a photo location since it doesn’t look like the typical hotel room.  We shot there for a couple more hours and once again got some more really good images


Blog Update #4 October—Formula D Canon Failure

The early part of October was pretty quiet, just a few local shoots and getting content to my editors. The later part of the month was another story swamped from October 16 to November 2.

October 16 and 17 was the final round of the 2009 Formula D season at Irwindale Raceway. I always look forward to this event number one its close to my house and its a track that I always get some of my best drifting images.  I always like to get to the track early, its easier to park, most of the security isn’t in place yet so you don’t have a bunch of douches in yellow jackets saying where you can or cannot go.  I get there at my usual time when the participant gates open around 8am to find out that the first practice isn’t until 2pm, and since it starts so late virtually no one is there. so I went to the Scion trailer where I knew Chris Harrington would be, he drives the truck and does all of Scions photography at the events. Pretty much hung out there for a couple hours till it was time to go to work For most of the day nothing too eventful just shooting the normal drifting and pit photos.

Around 5pm I got myself into a good position to shoot some late afternoon opposite lock drift pan photos. its a nice shot.

Unlike the newby wanna be photographers I rarely look at the back of my camera to see what I got, Im more concerned with what is going on at the track. After a couple frames my camera made a couple strange sounds so I checked the back and this is what I saw. I took a couple more frames and then the camera locked up. Below is when i first noticed there was a problem.

Normally not a big deal, but in two days I was going on a 14 day trip and had a lot of shoots to do. After slightly panicking I emailed two of my supervisors telling them about what happened and about the pending trip. I told them we could do 1 of 3 things 1st I cancel my trip, 2nd we rent a camera which for that length of time would be about $2k or buy a camera. Well the two later suggestions were out of the question as they would not approve that kind of expense. On Sunday when I finally reached my other boss he told me that there was a spare camera from the recent layoffs and he would get it for me that afternoon…that made my day alth0ugh I missed the final round of the Formula D event. But at least I was ready for my next 14 days on the road. First stop Texas


Blog Update #3 Japan

After about 5 months of solid shooting I was getting quite burned out. I needed a break. For me there was only one choice Japan. I wanted to do some self assigned  photoshoots, shoot the kind of material that I like to do, eat some great food and hang out with some friends that live there. Here are just a few of the photos. Thanks again to Chris, Satoko and Eric for good times. It was a much needed break


Blog Update #2 September—Winnipeg, Calgary

Ok, back from Toronto for 2 days then off to Winnipeg, then Calgary, Canada. I’ve never been to Winnipeg, even though im only going to be there for just one day I’m still looking forward to the trip. One thing I was not looking forward to was the flight. for the most part I fly American Airlines everywhere I travel in the US mostly out of convenience since my carry-on bags don’t really conform to weight guidelines, having elite status they don’t look quite as close. With that being said i didn’t want to have to check my bag and when i found out that I was flying on an Embraer 190, my experience with Embraer are the small planes that go from Orange County to San Francisco which is small, my backpack barely fits aboard.

So as I am boarding I ask the gate agent if I need a gate check, she says no it will fit under the seat in front of you…I questioned her a few times she assured me it would. Skeptically I boarded, the configuration was 2 seats on each side and I couldn’t believe it it actually fit under the seat. their policy is to have the heavy bags on the floor and the lighter ones in the overhead. Why can’t Boeing figure this out.

Winnipeg, I was there just a short time about 24 hours, my impressions of Winnipeg kinda reminds me of a Soviet era Eastern block city. The roads were the worst that I have ever experienced and the architecture was well just grim.  I arrived late staying near the airport, was hoping to catch a bite to eat but this was an industrial area which at night is shut down and so are the restaurants, couldn’t even get food in the hotel, speaking of the hotel here is the scenic view from my room.

As far as work, Winnipeg was great, shot two very nice Hondas for Honda Tuning Magazine The one shown was one of the best detailed cars Ive shot in a long time. The bodywork that was done in the engine and interior was flawless. Its nice to shoot a car where the owner thinks the project through and shows attention to detail.

On Sept 5 I left for Calgary for 4 days, nice uneventful flight, checked in to my hotel and basically just did editing all day. It was nice not to have a shoot so I could get a little caught up.

As far as work goes this was a fairly easy trip. I was able  to shoot the 3 cars for Honda Tuning Magazine in the same industrial area which is nice. Nothing too interesting to note on this trip, I am starting to feel a little burned out on travel so each day i just stayed in the room and worked till my shoot and did the same in the evenings, yeh I know i should go out and  see some new things, but just didn’t feel like it.

The next couple weeks , did a couple shoot for Import Tuner, European Car and Super Street

The only thing I was looking forward to was my vacation at the end of the month when I was going to Japan for a week. I’ll do a separate post for Japan.


Canadian Customs and Immigration

It has been about 10 years since I have been to Canada and from what I remember about both entering and leaving Canada it was a major pain in the ass especially with all the Camera gear I carry. The questions are:

Why are you coming to Canada

What is your business here

Are you going to leave your Camera equipment here in Canada

How do we know your not going to leave it in Canada

Upon Leaving Canada

What was your business purpose in Canada

How long were you here

How do we know that you did not buy this camera gear in Canada

Do you have receipts to prove that you did not buy this here

These don’t seem that bad on the surface but through the mouth of a bitter government employee it was a pain in the ass. With those memories, I was less than enthusiastic about traveling to Canada. During the month of August I was going to be experiencing Canadian Customs 3 different times, Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg.

I don’t know what has changed within the Canadian Customs and Immigration but it was not what I expected. The Customs agents were actually pleasant, when I explained why i was entering and leaving their country they just said have a good trip. No hassles…