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Three incredible drivers took the podium at Formula Drift Long Beach this past weekend.
Daijiro “Dai” Yoshihara , Vaughn Gittin Jr., and Chris Forsberg took first, second and third respectively. And despite the dreary weather it was an awesome race weekend – but I do feel bad for poor Randyl Dawn who was stuck standing in the middle fo this champagne fight… she ran away shortly after this photo. haha!

I was out at Drift this past weekend shooting for my old employer, K&N Filters. Some of you who have been following my work for several years remember when I was on staff for K&N Filters and AEM Intakes. It actually wasn’t all that long ago – about three years. While on staff with them these were some of the guys I had to focus on the majority of the time I was at the track.
Well, on a whim I randomly hit up my old boss to see if they were in need of coverage for Long Beach. I’ll be working for Falken Tire on part of the season for Drift this year, however for the season opener at Long Beach I was not yet booked. Turns out my timing was perfect since K&N was just looking at what their options were for Long Beach images. And with Vaughn having a new tire sponsor, new livery on his Mustang, and new logos on his race suit, K&N definitely needed photos and headshots.

Perfect! I was now booked for the weekend, and I already had a good idea of the types of shots that K&N would be looking for.

But I was most looking forward to the headshots I was going to be required to shoot…

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Portraits! This was an awesome opportunity to create portraits of some of the drivers for Formula Drift! And, of course, Bil Baldwin “The Bearded Man of Drift”! But, I’ll post that in a couple days in a new blog post. I have additional photos of the portraits and a couple BTS shots to share too. I rather that be it’s own post.

So we’re going to keep this post simple… Just a ton of photos, and a few captions here and there for good measure.
But keep in mind I was shooting for photos to be used in magazine ads (like this), so, they’re fairly cut and dry. Not as “artsy” as I might get with my Le Mans work. haha Specific clients need specific things.

Click to read on!

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Maybe I shouldn’t shoot Drift the same way I shoot Le Mans… at 1/25 of a second pans… lol

 

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I was looking most forward to seeing JR’s new car design. I love the green/black of his Monster RTR. If I were to ever buy a mustang it would be because of JR when he joined with Monster Energy

 

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Ryan’s brand new FRS

 

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Whoops! wrong direction

 

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JTP destroyed his brand new Mustang after clipping, then spinning, into the wall

 

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Dai, huggin the turns and getting within inches of the wall

 

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Matt clipped his tail, then nose, spinning out

 

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He managed to stop the car right before hitting the barrier, minimizing the damage

 

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It’s funny, I met Patrick on practice day through a friend. He was so personable and chatty that I didn’t realize he was a driver. And since I haven’t covered Drift in a while, i don’t yet know many of the drivers. When I asked what he does he laughed and said “I’m a driver”, I laughed and so “Oh, haha, sorry.” and he just said “Why? Don’t be.”
Really cool guy. And his car photographs really well with that design

 

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After JTP’s crash the Falken crew pulled a bunch of panels off and reassembled the car to a point that he could still get a few practice runs in before the day was out

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Vaughn, doing one of many interviews for the day.

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Hanging at Matt’s rig before doing a quick headshot of him for AEM

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The last practice session of the afternoon I climbed up on the video scaffolding for some elevated shots since that wouldn’t be an option during race day for most of us.

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Unfortunately it still wasn’t quite high enough to capture that massive K&N logo that Vaughn runs across his entire roof

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Ouch! Ryan completely broke his rear wheel off after clipping the wall

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Mmm, sexy RTR is sexy

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Obviously since I was shooting for K&N Filters a lot of my focus was on Vaughn…

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People wonder why I wear a scarf tied around my face… THIS is why.
I’d like to remain cancer-free as long as possible, please.

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The angle from this window was a bit too sharp… bummer!

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The next morning I was wandering the track after doing a portrait session with Bil Baldwin (above) and about 10 minutes later I bumped into him again as he was chatting with Ryan.

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They were actually looking at the car to see where they could possibly put one of Bil’s beard stickers

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Dai simply cut a hole into his hood for more airflow!

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Time for the driver meeting

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I spy Narisa chillin over there waiting for things to start

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I think one of the coolest parts of Chris and Vaughn being on rival teams… is that they’re still great friends

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Occasionally the drivers look right at you… and make you feel like a paparazzi… Sorry Vaughn..

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Ryan, watching the explanation of points for the day

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Qazi, badass Falken videographer doing his thing

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Narisa and Rommel, workin hard

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Matt, lookin super classy in his tuxedo fire suit

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These guys kept appearing on the track for aerial video. This guy controlled the drone

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And this guy stood there controlling the video with his video goggles

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Nestor, working that photobooth button

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You could come and get a photo with Randyl printed on the spot!

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Julie was giving out free swag to the fans. and homeboy was photo bombing. ha

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Had to get a photo with Joyce, because she’s both an awesome person anddd gorgeous. I didn’t know her when she was a Falken Girl like everyone else did though

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Chris, chatting with some fans

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Matt caught me taking his photo during autographs. Hahaha!

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I FINALLY met Sarah McDowd, absolutely stunning model that I was supposed to shoot with on two different K&N Filters calendars. The first time she ended up double booked, the second time I ended up being swapped for a different photographer. LOL. But we finally randomly met at Drift! Yay! Such a cool person, too.

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Getting ready for opening ceremonies

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All the drivers doing donuts. It’s crazy how controlled they can do these around so many other cars doing them at the same time

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“Call me the tweet-master!” -James, live tweeting about the Falken drivers during the finals

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Bil, standing there fearlessly as JTP slides right past his corner

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Winner announced, Vaughn and Chris took second and third place

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Dai, first place finisher congratulates former teammate Vaughn

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The photographer crowd…

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Vaughn, workin the cameras

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Number 1! Great place to start the 2013 season!

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Since Vaughn hold a Monster for Monster Energy, and Chris a NOS can for NOS Energy… I want to see Dai be a total beast and one-arm a tire for America’s Tire! hahaha

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Poor Randyl… getting soaked. She ran shortly after the first couple photos

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Vaughn went nuts though! hahaha!

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I’m sure Larry’s photo of this is amazing. He’s the guy in the hat to my right

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Quick shot with Randyl on our way back to the Falken rig. She was soaked but still took a quick shot with me.

 

Formula Drift Long Beach was a blast. I had a great time out there shooting. I’ll be heading to Atlanta for FD Round 2 but this time I’ll be shooting for Falken Tire and their team. So, my focus will be a whole new set of drivers – Dai, JTP, and Darren.

But check back in a few more days! I’ll have a full blog post with images fo the four portrait shoots I was able to do during Round 1 with Vaughn, Forsberg, Tuerck, and the bearded Bil Baldwin! If you guys know my work, you know how much I love creating portraits of people on location.

 

 

 

 

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