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.
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
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.
22nd team menace mitsubishi shoot in LA
23rd lowrider girls photoshoot
24th Super street model shoot at Gearheinz
26th Super Street model shoot at DME
27th Heavy hitters bmw show at Oakley
29th Honda tuning in la
30th lowrider girls in la
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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…
The Tokyo subway/train map. First time I saw this I was thinking WTF
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
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
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
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.
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
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.