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.
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