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Road America – American Le Mans with Falken Tire

Road America, with the Falken Tire racing team.. and what a beautiful weekend it was out in Wisconsin!

Yes. We crashed. Let me start with first saying that I don’t know any details about the crash beyond this: Whatever the end cause was, it sent Bryan into a wall at an incredibly high speed. It wasn’t head-on, so, Bryan escaped with a few bumps and was cleared quickly by medical. As for the cause or crazy photos – I don’t know, nor do I have any. I was at a different location on the track when it happened. And the cause is being investigated so changes (if needed) can be made before Baltimore in 11 days.

Now, onto to details of the rest of the weekend..

Any sort of East Coast travel always means very little sleep the night before. Going to bed early doesn’t really work well for me, and first-flight-out typically means leaving the house at 5am. So I only got about four hours of sleep that evening. The travel day went surprisingly smooth. Funny that with all the flying that I do the best service I have is consistently “budget-airline” Southwest.

That first afternoon in Wisconsin was spent with Cale and Qazi, two of Falken’s video team. We were going around town doing some filming and shooting of the city for b-roll type footage that they could use for their final piece on the Road America race. We found a couple cool locations and the guys did their thing as I wandered around on my own. I didn’t really have much use for any of the shots I would have taken, so I pretty much just took behind the scenes stuff.
Later that evening we checked into our hotel to get ready for a busy Saturday at the track. Oh, and we stayed at the Osthoff Resort which was incredible. I was in an awesome two-bedroom suite on the top floor with a view of the pools and lake.

Practice day for me started early. The photographer meeting was at 730am. So, I was up early to get ready and get out of the hotel in time. Plus it was a new track so making sure I figured out my way around was important, too.
Overall the practice day went really well. I was able to check about half the track during the various practice sessions. Road America is a 4 mile track, so that’s either a LOT of walking… or a lot of driving if you are lucky enough to have a golf cart. Our video crew used the golf cart the majority of the time, which means I was on foot. Qazi, one of the videographers, actually joked “You’re in the best shape out of all of us, John. So you get to walk.” Hahaha!

Race day was a different story… as we arrived at the track the first GT practice of the day was getting started. So, I had the guys drop me off so I could start shooting right then. I rather have every opportunity I can to get shots of the car on the track than risk not getting enough images. The rest of the day was whirlwind of bouncing around the paddocks, grabbing breakfast/lunch at whatever point I had a few minutes to do so, and hiking pretty much the entire track to check out possible new areas to shoot.

And as everyone is aware, our race day was cut short due to a crash – a very disappointing end of the race for us when Falken was bouncing between 3rd and 5th place at the time.

Anyway, I’ll stop typing. Read on for a ton of images and captions from my weekend with Falken’s ALMS team at Elkhart Lake.

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Last year of the world! Hellooo 2012!

Twenty twelveeeeeeeeee!!!!
The world is gonna end! Oh nooooooo!

I have a feeling that this will be the running joke throughout the year for me. However, in my annual end of the year open letter as I take some time to look back at 2011 I find myself at a bit of a loss for words.
This year seemed to go by much quicker than last. Sure, we all say that at the end of each year, don’t we?

But this year was such a mix of running around SoCal working on personal projects with various clients mixed in between that I’m finding it difficult to find key points to talk about as I reflect on my year.

Growth. Let’s just go with a cliche choice on this one, shall we?

I could support this two ways…
The first is that I watched many of my close friends, family, and even past client’s lives grow as people had children and added to their families. I became an Uncle this year when my little sister had a daughter mid-summer. Later in in the Fall my oldest and best friend had a son, too. So I’m an Uncle twice this year. Maternity photos I shot last year were now baby photos this year. I was booked by past families to do new rounds of family portraits as kids were older and new images were needed.

I took my work a new direction with a portrait series that I started work on in the Spring. I began creating images of people in and around my daily life. Some images were planned out in detail prior to the shoot, while others were created right there on the street with people I had met only moments before. This series proved extremely popular. I showcased the series during an art show in Hollywood – my first time every displaying my work publicly in a gallery setting.

I continued to travel all over the US for weddings. I kept my self-promise of always extending my trips to see local friends in the areas that work would take me.

I gained several new, major clients as my business grew and projects that I worked on became bigger and more important. My biggest of which are actually continuing into the new year and I will finally be able to share them in the upcoming weeks.

Twenty Eleven was a great year. And although I could go on and on about each detail and event that made it great I won’t.
My life grew with new members of families around me. My clients grew as I expanded my business. And my work grew as I developed my own style and took my photography to a level far beyond where I was just 12 months ago.

Let’s get going with 2012! I can’t wait to see what’s ahead.