When I’m asked what I like shooting most of all my answer would be portraits. Which is saying a lot because I have the opportunity to shoot a LOT of different things from models to racing to weddings.
And while all those other things are a lot of fun, coming back around to portraits is where I always end up. It’s wonderfully simple an they’re WAY more interesting than a racecar on a track I feel like.
The Formula Drift season just kicked off for 2013 – and I’m sure many of you likely saw my blog post earlier this week about it. And during Round 1: Long Beach, I was on assignment from K&N Filters and AEM Intakes. One of the things I was required to shoot was headshots of various drivers that they sponsor. I immediately thought “Awesome! Now I HAVE to get photos with three of the busiest drivers at the track: Vaughn Gittin Jr., Ryan Tuerck, and Chris Forberg.
Now I’m not saying these guys won’t give you the time of day – that couldn’t be further from the truth. However as a photographer for one of their sponsors it’s much easier to get a few minutes of their time set aside specifically for you to photograph them.
Each of my portraits of these drivers only took me about 5 minutes to create. So long as I have nearly all my camera settings dialed than it’s just a matter of lighting being balanced, a few test shots, and a couple “real ones” where my subject can smile or do whatever they like…. then I’m done. Out of their hair AND I have both headshots for my clients along with an image and I can edit into the portraits you see above.
I also met and photographed Bil “The Bearded Man of Drift” Baldwin, who’s become a bit of a legend in the Drift world. I actually had heard of him through a friend of mine that knows of Bil from the “Beard Life” community, haha!
Me and Bil, right after his portrait the morning of the race!
Anyway, click past the break for the portraits I created of Vaughn, Ryan, Chris and Bil – along with some Behind the Scenes that my buddy Rex shot while I was working with Vaughn!
The first driver I was able to get some time with was Chris Forsberg, driver of the NOS Energy Nissan 370Z. I actually met Chris briefly in years past when I was on staff with K&N Filters when he was driving a 350Z. This time I would be shooting him quickly for AEM Intakes.
I knew JR was going to be the most difficult to get time with because he’s always so busy between interviews for Monster, Hoonigan, FD, and pretty much everyone else that wants some of his time during the weekend. Fortunately I was able to coordinate with both Vaughn and his wife Abby (who actually helps manage his availability) and set up a time to shoot.
I had also met Vaughn a couple times while working for K&N and always remembered him being a great guy. He had no problem giving me part of his available time, it was just “where does he even have time?” that was the concern. Haha!
We ended up being able to shoot after the driver meeting the second afternoon. Vaughn had his new fire suit with all the new logos/etc on it and I created these shots right there in the parking garage – which worked well since I had a cement wall for a the background and added texture. Win!
Full shot to show Vaughn’s sponsor logos. I always do a tighter crop to share because I prefer focus to be on people’s eyes.
We also did a few shots with the shades on for some attitude
What was great about Vaughn is that after I took several shots he asked to see them, looked at them, found what he wanted to change with his pose/posture, and we took several more. After the second series again looked, approved of them and asked what else I needed. I said “That’s it! That’s all I needed, not much of your time – but I do appreciate it.” He thanked me and headed back to his rig where he was going to be interviewed for Monster (I think..).
My friend Rex was hanging out with me while I was waiting for Vaughn to change into his new fire suit and he snapped the following photos of me working! Always cool to have a few shots of me since I’m never actually in photos.
In this shot I’m actually adjusting the focal length with my fingers. Fortunately my hands are big enough that I can hold my 1D-X and zoom at the same time. Impressive, right? RIGHT?!!!
A couple more shots of Vaughn and we were done!
Next to shoot was Ryan Tuerck
Ryan was a little easier to chase down than Vaughn and Chris were. I met up with him after the final practice of the day when he was back at his rig, this way he would still be in his race suit. Ryan was a really great guy, he recognized me throughout the weekend when I was walking past his rig and would acknowledge me. So when I came by that evening he basically said “Great, let’s go ahead and do them now so we don’t have to worry tomorrow.”
I took several shots of Ryan, however this was the only one with his glasses on. He removed them for the rest of the photos, however I actually really liked the look of his glasses – so I this was the first of the shots I edited. And at least half the photos you see out there of Ryan he’s wearing his glasses and not contacts, anyway, right?
I have several variations of Ryan’s portrait without his glasses – a completely different look
The next morning I met Bil Baldwin, who many people know as The Bearded Man of Drift. I actually got in touch with Bil through Facebook since he was friends with a few of the photographers that I know. I asked him if he would be willing to do a portrait early in the morning with me before the day got started off. Bil was down to do it, so I met up with him around 8a before most people had arrived and it was still mostly track workers and media that were wandering around.
We shot a few variations, but this pose was my favorite. Simple, with the track in the background – quiet and empty since it was still early. I have another version of Bil wearing his round sunglasses, which most people would likely recognize, however I always prefer to see my subjects eyes in their photos, which is why I like this one (or specifically the tighter crop of the first image).
Also, before shooting with Vaughn I wanted to make sure my lighting and camera was as close to dialed as possible… so my buddy Rommel stood in as my test subject! hahaha! Thanks man!
Rex shot this photo of me mid-day during one of the practice sessions
And he later shot this during the Finals. I’m not sure sure exactly when it was, I’m thinking this might have been during the opening ceremonies where one guy had stalled out and needed to actually be towed back to the pits before anything had even started.
James from Falken Tire shot this of me since it was laughing at my scarf…
However during the race my scarf also me immediately recognizable. My buddy TJ was watching the race online and he texted me saying that I was very easy to spot throughout the day on the live feed of the broadcast. In this shot you can see me talking to James as he live tweets updates to the @FalkenTire account! hahaha
Next up for Drift is Round 2: Atlanta. I’ll be flying out there as photographer for Falken Tire and covering an entirely new set of drivers. Dai, Darren, and Justin. I’m looking forward to meeting them and hopefully I will have an opportunity to create portraits of them as well. I actually met and talked with Dai in Long Beach since I asked him to sign a print I made from a photo of mine last year – really great guy. I’ll also have to talk to a couple other drivers I met and shot at Long Beach, like Matt Field. The time of day I shot those portraits the lighting was just too harsh and hopefully I can redo them in Atlanta.
Check back next week and I’ll be uploading a very-delayed blog with images from American Le Mans: 12 Hours of Sebring. I have been putting off that blog because I was busy dealing with Canon and my damaged 1D-X that I had at that race. But I have a lot of dusk and night shots I can share with everyone since most of the daylight shots are useless.