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I’m still nervous on photo shoots. I don’t worry the photos won’t come out; instead, I worry it won’t be any fun. I do extensive preparation with car owners beforehand, warning them explicitly what we’ll be doing, but still, sometimes you show up and find someone who says, “I didn’t realize you wanted it to run! When the local paper took pictures, they did them in the driveway; why don’t you call them up and use those?”
At the other extreme, never more than once a year, is a perfect day. In six years, I can count them on the fingers of one hand, and it always begins with a car owner who cannot wait to share his car. Then the car itself must be something special, not necessarily exotic, although it helps. Really, it just has to be great, and if it’s a great Sprite or Chevy II, that’ll work.
If those two come together, location and weather almost don’t matter. If the owner is game and the car is right, we’re going to get in a groove and be able to take artistic risks together. You just know, early on, when a good day is starting.
Interestingly, three of these perfect days have been my last photo shoot of the season, all within a few days – one on Halloween, one on November 7 and last fall, on November 8, it happened again.
I went in with a good feeling. Scott Klion had been hugely enthusiastic about the idea of shooting his 1961 Ferrari 250 GTE since I’d contacted him earlier in the year. Then, a longtime collaborator was coming to meet me at the owner’s house to drive the camera car, and we always have a good time. And when we got to Scott’s house, we found Tom Yang there with Scott waiting for us. Tom grabbed a reflector and my pocket video camera, and acted alternately as a grip and documentarian for the first few hours.
Scott’s driveway actually was fine for some details, then we hit the road scouting for locations. Scott lives near New Paltz, New York, which has a famous serpentine road ascending from the valley up to the top of the Shawangunk ridge. I’ve shot there before, in 2005, but only static shots. This time, though, were going for it, and doing action on the hairpin.
First, though, I wanted to get beauty shots in, before the car got dirty from action. For that, I chose a side road near the old Mohonk gate house.
After that, it was up to the hairpins. Normally, I wouldn’t have attempted car-to-car action somewhere like that, but in this case I had a trusted and experienced driver for the photo car and an owner who was willing to do what it took to get the shot. We spent about half-an-hour going back and forth over a quarter-mile section of road, and I took over 400 shots. It was a little hairy, but worth it and my criteria for what makes a good road for action have changed radically.
On the way back, I popped into a little access road just before where the above shot was taken. It’s a spot I’ve rejected twice before over the years, but today everything was clicking. Light was fading, but with a giallo Ferrari, you don’t need too much. Still, I had every light I could wrangle on it, including the high beams from the van, but it still wasn’t popping quite like I wanted.
Just as I was thinking it was time to wrap it up for the day, a rider on a Ducati (sorry, I don’t know the model; he’s in the video at the four-minute mark if you’d care to ID it) stopped to admire the car, and his headlamps glinted just so off the car. We wrangled him, too, into place on the passenger side, and he gave the beltline the last little bit of of light it needed. With that, we had a cover shot.
Yet we still weren’t done. Earlier in the day, I’d spent about an hour driving it, and it was just one of the best cars of any kind I’d ever driven. Somewhere in there, Scott had the opportunity to hear what it sounded like from the outside, and realized that was the part of the ownership experience he’d missed. So before we called it a night, he had me do some high-speed passes in front of him so he could get the full effect. We were still rolling video, too, and if you’ve never heard a Ferrari V-12 wound out, you owe it to yourself to take a listen. I think it’s so important, in fact, that I’m willing to share this moderately embarrassing behind-the-scenes video with you, despite what it reveals about the dietary habits of autowriters.
At the end of the day, we all knew something special had just happened. I couldn’t have done it without Scott Klion, who tossed me the keys; Tom Yang, who was a joyful surprise; my friend Lehho K. Rebassoo, with whom I’ve never had a bad photoshoot; and you, Ducati Guy, whoever you are. Thanks.
Sports & Exotic Car #68 will be on newsstands around the time you read this, and includes not only six pages on this car, but a bonus two-page feature on the incredible work Steve at RPM did to bring it back to life after 30-plus years off the road.
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Tagged featured posts, Ferrari, Ferrari 250, Hemmings Sports & Exotic Car, Klion GTE, photo shoots, Pininfarina, V-12, videos