A journal of my life as an editorial Photographer

Latest

2010 Pioneer Road Show

The last couple days I along with several of my coworkers were at La Quinta Resort in La Quinta, CA, near Palm Springs to attend the 2010 Pioneer Road Show where Pioneer introduced several new products. Pioneer sponsored a publication to be distributed to their dealers and distributors that showcased the event itself and featured 12 vehicles with Pioneer audio equipment. Myself and 3 other photographers each took 3 vehicles and had to photograph them for this publication. My company even made a bit of a contest and is giving $200 to the person who has the best photo-shoot. That was good idea as it created a good competitive atmosphere.

I shot all 3 of my cars in the afternoon, the location I found gave 3 different looks. It was pretty straight forward, just time consuming. For the details I used available light and for the overalls I used my Dynalites with the xp1100 power pack. This pack was really expensive but so far has proved its worth, giving me the power I need on location.

The top 3 award winners of the Pioneer Buildoff

April Photo shoots

April was a fairly busy month which I like, a little downtime is nice but i prefer to have a hectic busy shooting schedule.

4-6 This shoot was a departure for me, it was a food shoot for Heavy Hitters Magazine, they were profiling  Ajos Y Cebolla located at 1648 Tyler Ave Ste D, South El Monte, CA 91733 (626) 279-6511. If you want to Get some amazing mexican food that is not your typical try it out, but come hungry as the portions are huge. After the shoot I didn’t eat the entire next day. It was nice though to shoot something different from cars. It was a lot of work, the shoot lasted about 5 hours but I was fairly happy with the results considering I’ve never shot food before.

ajos Y Cebolla

Ajos Y Cebolla

Ajos Y Cebolla

4-9/10 The season opener for Formula  D professional drifting series was held on a portion of the Long Beach Grand Prix circuit in Long Beach, CA. This is a challenging event to cover since it is a temporary circuit there is fencing on both sides of the track with some holes cut in the fencing for photographers. Jon from the idagency always does a great job in cutting a lot of holes to make our jobs easier. One nice thing about this event is that the pits are close to the track so I don’t have to walk all over the place. The first event of the season is always nice in that you get to see  people you haven’t seen for a while. I was happy when I saw Nick the Motorsports Manager for Falken tires and he gave me the VIP pass for the 2010 season. Falken has a great hospitality area for the team, dealers and friends of Falken where they provide drinks and food and a place to get out of the sun. This is very much appreciated especially at the events where it is hot and I don’t have to wait in line to get drinks and food.

Von Gitten Jr driving the Falken, Monster Ford mustang to a win at the season opener of Formula D

April 19 This was a shoot for Lowrider Girls Magazine, the location was a barber shop in South Central LA, I’ll be honest when driving through the hood I was a little nervous, but luckily the shop was not in the bad area. I love shooting for Lowrider girls because the Editor, Tanisha is always on scene so we can work together to get the best images possible. also the makeup artist Kim is great. This shoot was two parts indoor and outdoor with a lowrider.  The first part went fairly quick and easy inside the shop.  For the second half we had a lowrider, I was wondering where we were going to park the car but she shop owner said that parking it on the sidewalk is ok. I was a bit hesitant because try that anywhere else but south central and you’ll be getting hassled for permits and the police for parking a car on the sidewalk, but no problems and the shoot was finished with good results.

Lowrider Girls shoot in LA

4-23 This day was for mini Mini-Truckin. I was shooting in a studio that they use. The truck was really nice kinda a late 50’s early 60’s scallop paint scheme. It was for a cover and feature and we were using a model that I photographed before Helen Fancik, she is a pleasure to work with and  I got some really good images that day.

4-27 RV magazine cover shoot

March Photo shoots

The month started off with a quick trip to vegas for Honda Tuning for an s2k photoshoot. I used my location outside of sloan, A fairly simple shoot spent more time driving than the shoot took. I did car to car for the action, over the past few years Ive done so many rig shots im sick of them so Im doing more standard action.

Las Vegas S2000

The next couple of weeks I had a few shoots that were nothing memorable. On the 18th I had European Car shoot that was a real pain in the ass to schedule.  The car was a highly modified Lotus with a carbon fiber body supercharged/turbocharged engine. Based on what my editor wanted I decided I wanted to shoot this on Glen Mountain Road the all the owner did was whine about having to drive his car 60 miles, whine about dirt on the road etc etc. Even the day we schedule the shoot at the last minute he decided that he didn’t want to go. So I made the drive to calabasis. One thing I really hate about what I do is dealing with self important self absorbed douchbags who think their car is the most important thing on the planet. Give me a break its just a car.  Well we went to the location that he wanted to shoot and of course it was not that great, I really didn’t care after dealing with him for 3 weeks of canceling shoots all I wanted to do was get this finished. It came out OK but if we would have gone to the location I wanted it wound have been a lot better

Lotus

The 20th I had to cover the Remix car show for heavy hitters, it was fairly easy because all I had to do was shoot the exotics.

Remix show for Heavy Hitters

22nd team menace mitsubishi shoot in LA

23rd lowrider girls photoshoot

Surrounded by very good company while doing Lowrider Girls photoshoot

24th Super street model shoot at Gearheinz

Super Street

26th Super Street model shoot at DME

27th Heavy hitters bmw show at Oakley

29th Honda  tuning in la

30th lowrider girls in la

In downtown LA Lowrider Girls shoot

Lowrider girls in LA

February Photo shoots

February is usually one of the slowest months of the year for me which is nice to have some downtime, but by the end of the month, I start to get cabin feverand cant wait to start traveling and getting busy with shoots.

Early in the month I headed over to Tein for Import Tuner for a two car feature and cover shoot.. I got there a bit early and decided to drive around my hometown a bit. I was sad to see how rundown things have gotton over the years, it’s a shame because it used to be a really nice city, but how the traffic is horrible and the business center is slowly decaying.

 

On the 23rd I had a cover shoot shoot for RV magazine, we took a truck and trailer to the cajon pass and did a lot of car to car photos, a fairly  easy shoot to do and the cover came out nice

RV magazine cover shoot

February 26th shoot was at the former el toro marine air station for truckin magazine.  This was a testing day where they had six trucks doing slalom and braking. They took baseline numbers and then did some modifications and reran the tests. It was a bit of a long day, mostly what  I had to shoot was the behind the scenes photos and action photos on the track.. There was also a feature to shoot at the end of the day.

slalom at El Toro

slalom at El Toro

One of the trucks got a little out of control and ended up in the dirt and had to be pulled out

working late into the light

Japan 2010 Part 2

Here is part 2 of the Japan trip. My next assignment was for Honda Tuning Magazine at J’s Racing in Osaka, Japan. I would not need a translator for this as they have someone at their office who speaks English. One of the things I hate about photographing cars in Japan is that 9 out of 10 times you have to shoot the literally where it sits, they don’t move it or want to take it anywhere, so many times you have these great cars in lame locations and this shoot was no different. It sat in the service bay and it did not move just shot it where is was parked

View from the Shinkansen going to Osaka

J's Racing in Osaka, Japan

J's Racing showroom

With some post processing this will look pretty good

This was a pretty quick shoot and I was back on the Shinkansen bound for Tokyo by 3pm so at least I got back at a decent hour. Before I got on the train had some soba and tempura.

For the last 14 days I was staying at Tokyu Stay in Shibuya, nice business hotel, quiet the one nice thing was that there was a washer and dryer in the room so I didn’t have to bring so many clothes. The one thing that sucked was that each day there was at least a 15 minute walk to the main part of shibuya.

View from Tokyu Stay hotel in Shibuya, that is Shibuya station and the Yamanote line.

On the 27th it was time to change hotels, I used some points to stay at the Hilton, ah it was nice, big room comfortable bed, executive lounge access for breakfast. This was supposed to be the start of a week vacation but my editors had different plans. I had planned to spend 5 days going through my list of things to do but I had to work 3 of those days.

View from the Hilton in Shinjuku

So a couple of days before I moved into my nice hotel I was told that I had a few more shoots. So myself and my translator Kenta took the Shinkansen down to  Nagoya

When we were in Nagoya we transferred on a couple more trains and ended up in the sticks at a shop named common snapper.

We were out in the sticks, the only two passengers at the station

the warning cartoons are all over the place and always entertaining

On the way to Common Snapper, it was nice to see a different part of Japan

the farther you get away from a major city the less comforts such as escalators and elevators, it got really old carrying my gear up and down stairs

The best way to get a meal is the ever popular Bento, this was pork based and pretty good

By the time we got to the shop it was 3pm and we had 3 cars to shoot and it gets dark at 5pm. Nothing too memorable about these shoots, just wanted to work through them and get back to the hotel.

This is the luxurious room I was stayed in Nagoya instead of my over-sized comfortable bed at the Hilton

We stayed the night in Nagoya as the next day we had an NSX to shoot at Esprit in Suzuka, Japan. this was a very nice place, lots of highly tuned vehicles there along with a huge nice showroom.

Esprit where I shot a nsx for Honda Tuning

Showroom of Esprit

This was a really nice car just with I could have taken it to a better location. That is one of the hardest things about doing photo-shoots in Japan are the limitations. Before I even went to  Japan for my first time, I saw Wes Allisons photos in Super Street and always wondered why his choice of locations were so bad when he was in a country with such diverse locations.  On my first photo-shoot at a company in Japan I quickly learned why. The shops we visit  won’t go anywhere and in some cases want the car shot literally where it sits, also the time of day usually isn’t optimal for great photos. So I do the best I can with the locations given to me.

About halfway through the shoot my translator Kenta told me that the Shinkansens were not running due to a problem on the tracks. Since we were not due to catch a train for another 3 hours we were hoping it would be resolved by then. Wishful thinking on our part. Once we got to Nagoya we found out that nothing was running, the train guys thought maybe in another couple of hours. We talked about it and came to the conclusion that when the trains do start they will be packed for a few hours to work through the backlog of stranded passengers. So we went to an itsakaya to kill time.

Once on the train we were making good time but that soon ended as we approached Yokohama station. We stopped for a while before getting to the station, because the trains ahead of us had to unload. Once at the station we were stuck there for 45 minutes for the same reason. After finally getting underway we had the same issues once we approached Shinagawa station, they told us that there were 5 trains ahead of us, a little before midnight we finally got to the Shinagawa station. I was so done with trains and hauling my gear around that I opted to take a taxi to my hotel at the Hilton in Shinjuku

i was pretty amazed to find a large sized locker at the Nagoya station. We left our gear while going to an itzakaya waiting for the Shinkansens to start running

At this point the Shinkansens were down for about 4 hours, this photo does not capture the madness and noise from the bull horns with announcements and a lot of frustrated people...time to go to the itzakaya

Nagoya station

After the Nagoya trip I was really hoping to get at least  three uninterrupted days to see some sites Ive been wanting to see. Well that all ended when I got an email from my editor at Super Street Magazine. They wanted me to go down to Fuji Speedway to cover the HKS Premium Day.  As usual was only given partial information and a contact name. One thing I did know was that the event started pretty early in the morning so I had to spend the night near the track. Once again I was to leave my comfortable surroundings at the Hilton and stay in a business hotel.  I spent most of the morning figuring out how I was going to get down to where Fuji speedway was, getting a hotel and packing minimal clothing and gear for a one day trip.

Here is the plan, get bus ticket, dinner, get on bus where no one speaks English, hopefully get off at the correct stop, check in to hotel, wake up around 6am, take taxi (30 minute ride) to Fuji Speedway, attempt to get credentials from media person who doesn’t speak english and I don’t speak Japanese, walk uphill about a mile to the track pulling 30 pounds of gear, luckily get pickup by someone who recognized me, shoot event, walk about 10 miles of stairs, walk back down hill, return media vest, have the office people get me a cab which they did not want to do but realized that the only way they are going to get this gaijin out of their office is to get a taxi, get to train station, get ticket get on train and relax for the next hour and a half having a few pints of Sapporo while on my way to Tokyo.  That in a nutshell was the Fuji trip.

Before leaving for Fuji speedway had some unique shabu shabu, instead of dipping the meat in boiling water , the meat is dipped in one of 3 sauces. really good

the meat for shabu

the view from my hotel was pretty cool except for the prison like wire in the windows

From this point it was about a mile walk up hill to the pits at Fuji, it was brutal until i got picked up by someone I knew

Fuji Speedway, I really want to come back even as a spectator

Fuji Speedway

HKS Premium Day

HKS Premium Day at Fuji Speedway

The media center at FUJI, I was in awe I really want to shoot real Motorsports again

The next day and a half were spent in Tokyo just taking it easy which I really needed then back home on Feb 2. On my last night in Tokyo  We had Sh it was cold enough to snow, while this is no big deal for those live in show areas it is for me and was interesting giving the city a different feel with a few inches of snow.

the morning after it snowed in Tokyo in a few hours I would head to the airport not knowing when ill be back

In Japan for 3 weeks Part 1 of 2

Since I have a lot of photos and text I am going to break this post  in two sections . I’m now back in Japan for 3 weeks for work  and one week for vacation. Yesterdays flight was brutal, the flight itself was good, but was unable to sleep because the person sitting next to me was passed out for the entire flight and snored the entire way even overpowering my ipod.

This will be my 14th time to Japan, but I’m almost bored with Japan now, Tokyo been there done that. If I go again for vacation, I’m going to attempt to pack lite and see more of the country aside from the bid cities. I already have a 10 day trip planned, where I’ll go to see some of the World Heritage Sites, Onsens, basically more of country that’s not a big city. When I travel for fun I’m not really a be on a schedule person but this next personal trip I’m going to plan it well to get the maximum time to get images I want that I haven’t been getting in the past few trips.  There are also a few photo stories I want to do. I’ll leave it at that, don’t want to give out my ideas but it has nothing to do with cars.

I arrived in Japan 3 days before my main assignment the Tokyo Auto Salon. Since I was shooting it for 4 magazines I had to try and shoot everything to give my editors as much variety as one can get from a trade show.  Anyway, first couple days just had to get situated and get my sleeping pattern to Japan time.

First couple days I stayed at the Conrad in Shiodome,  I like Shiodome, since its mostly office buildings Shiodome is quite a contrast to the rest of Tokyo. There are very few people in the stations and even just walking around

Oedo line at the Shiodome station. Its always this empty even at rush hour

The Breakfast bar at the Conrad, the food is great, amazing view and its quiet

On Jan 15 was the press/vip day, well not really a day it was from 8-1. Then they let the hoards of unwashed masses in. So I try to get as much of the show covered as possible before 1, then spend the next 4 hours getting whatever I could. As the models come out the crowds get insane, the problems that the pervs will clog up an aisle with dozens of people taking photos of the models. The way they react to the models one would think these Japanese guys have never seen a woman before.

press registration for Tokyo Auto Salon

Tokyo Auto Salon

One of the aisles, they get even more crowded when there are some models

It amazes me each time I go to the Auto Salon how many of these creepy “photos” are lurking around the models taking dozens of photos. its like they all have just seen their first woman.

After TAS I was scheduled for the next 4 days to shoot for Super Street, but they didn’t have any shoots for me, so I was basically on call, not really able to plan or do anything as I was waiting for the editor to assign me something.  So when I didn’t get an assignment I would just do some sightseeing. Still don’t understand it, oh well…

Shibuya

The Tokyo subway/train map. First time I saw this I was thinking WTF

Yokohama

Edo Museum, this place was interesting. I want to go back and spend more time there

At the exit of every train station there is a local map with major destinations indicated. These are very helpful as long as you have  the name of where you want to go.

Salarymen, slurping ramen in Shinagawa

Amazing cheap sushi, Midoria in Shibuya, near the train station there is always a line unless you go to eat at off hours

Engrish

Shinjuku

On Friday the 22nd I met my translator for next two days, Kenta from   at Ueno station. First we took the Shinkansen to Boss Auto Produce in Nagano to shoot two cars, it was pretty easy but not very creative as we were limited for a location. After the Boss shoot we went took a couple more Shinkansens about two hours worth to Niigata.  By the time we got to the hotel near the station it was already getting late so we went to get some food. by the time we left the Itza kaya it had been snowing and there was several inches on the ground. I know what those of you will say who have to deal with snow yearly, but Im from California where we don’t get too much of the white stuff. So we walked around for a bit then back to the hotel.

On the 23rd we had a photo-shoot to SS Works in Niigata. this was a pretty important car as it holds several records. Since it had snowed about 6 inches the night before. I already knew I was going to have to shoot this inside, in Japan that can be a challenge since most shops are very small. Luckily this one was pretty big but narrow and very cluttered at the same time. I had my lights with me, so I could light the car and underexpose the background letting it go black. All in all I’m happy with the results. One thing I hate about shooting in Japan in the Winter is that with all the extra layers of clothes, shoots take longer

After the shoot at SS Works the owner took us to a fantastic Ramen shop where I had some very spicy ramen,  perfect food for a snowy day

Part 2 of the Japan trip to come in a couple days

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