No sign of water. While the sun is cuttin’ cracks into the hard ground.
The Damnations lyrics certainly had the description right. Even though it might fit, I’m pretty sure when Amy Boone and Deborah Kelly wrote, “Makin’ demands and shooting up”, it wasn’t about a photo shoot.
We were shooting up a car on El Mirage dry lake bed in California. This was the second time we had teamed up with Stewart Cohen Pictures on a one day shoot of a limited edition vehicle for Neiman Marcus. Tim Flannery was art directing this shoot of an Infiniti Q60 for the Fantasy Gift guide.
Additional team members we met up with in L.A. included John Babor of JB5 Productions who was handling the California production, Kip Corley and Trever Gens were on lighting. Always a pleasure to work with this team.
The challenges started as soon as Stewart Cohen, Dylan Cauchon, and I landed in Los Angeles. We had around 17 cases of gear, and the car rental company did not have our reserved Chevy Suburban. They said a Tahoe was all they had, not even a van in sight. We did find a Dodge Caravan at another location, but we had to get there. We were off to a slow start, packing every cubic inch of the Tahoe, getting across town and repacking the van. We managed it and met up with Babor then headed out to scout the location. The plan was to also grab some sunset horizons for our hero shot. Scouting went well, and it was the night of the Perseids meteor shower. The three of us stayed out in the the dark, and saw what were some of the most magnificent meteors we’ve ever seen. One felt almost like a jet zooming in close overhead.
We have worked on many projects that were shot at El Mirage, but this was my first time to shoot there. It is always fun to arrive at iconic locations, and this was no exception. The mirages were so large and so perfect, when we first arrived we found ourselves wondering if it had rained, which would shut us down. Nope, just being fooled, no sign of water.
The shoot had the typical challenges of things like ferocious wind, but we banged it out. We shot still details and video through the afternoon. We shot elements Mary would need for post. Our few minutes of sunset came, and everyone jumped to action. We got what we came for.
This of course had us leaving after dark. Two cars were left, us and John Babor. Pulling out from the location, our biggest concern was finding the gate to get out of the property with no lights, road or signage. That concern completely vanished as we realized we had picked up a huge piece of steel in a front tire. Four guys to change a flat tire, no problem. Wrong. We unloaded most of the gear from the back and found the jack, but no spare tire. Babor found the manual, and started dictating instructions. The most terrifying words were “the spare tire, if equipped”. Turns out, you have to disassemble the front console, which meant the remainder of the gear coming out. Then the tire is wound down with a winch from the center of the car under the front console. We were all laughing about this group of guys trying to change a tire on a mom car. I guess we needed a mom in the group. With the tire fixed, we had the challenge of a fully packed car and a full size tire that would not go back into the spare storage area. Nothing is easy.
With the shoot wrapped and the excitement over, once again it was time to turn it over to Mary. We sorted through the shots and she began the task of building them into a single image. I always find it amazing how many people can be involved in creating a single photograph. But then, I still find the photographs amazing as well.