Sema 2015 Las Vegas
It was 9 a.m., the day before I was to leave for SEMA, when I arrived at Lamborghini Boston for a quick shoot with the new 2016 Hurracan Spyder. It was scheduled to be picked up and transferred to another dealership that day and I wanted to capture it. This new dealership would continue to draw in potential buyers for its public release this spring. When I arrived home, I had enough time to do a couple quick edits from the Yuppie Racing Cape Run from the day before. I wanted to send out some before I head to SEMA. My parents picked me up early in the day so that we could go out and spend time together before I was off to the airport for my 8pm flight.
As we all know, flying always comes with its delays and changes. As we switched gates, I noticed Jeff from Toy Motorsports and his employees, as well as Lorenzo from Eastside Motoring. As I waited, I decided to ask them for feedback for my 2016 calendar to see what they liked and didn’t like. I enjoyed hearing what they thought!
As we all know nobody likes to hear about another person’s experience on a flight, but I found it slightly disturbing that the Weather Channel had a show on called Why Planes Crash. Seriously, that’s the last thing I want to see before takeoff. I was thinking about that as I was 30,000 feet up in the sky in a sardine can. I was relieved to hear the wheels hit down in Nevada. After arriving at Las Vegas Airport, I hopped into a cab and was on my way to the 742 Marketing media house. Sadly, the taxi was my one of my least favorite cars: a Prius. After no sleep on the plane, I knew I would get some sleep at the house. There was going to be a slim chance that anyone would there when I found out the others were still out on the strip at 1 a.m.
I woke up early with anticipation and began to plan my day out, noting and mapping where I had to be and at what time. This strategy has been most helpful, as it allows me a structure for the day. The rest of the group was getting up as I finished my list and soon we left to get to the show for 9am. Right away I started in the Central Hall, which housed the Racing and Performance genre. This has to be one of the larger halls with the most cars. Many of the major car manufacturers and tuning companies reside in this portion of the event and have top notch, breathtaking cars. As I walked around I noticed a lot of booths had a sitting area, raised up off the floor. This height would be ideal for me to get pictures, I thought. I decided I should ask about gaining access to this area. Most sponsors are kind and give you the go ahead, if no meetings are taking place. What a great opportunity to get some different shots from above! Special thanks to the Ford booth, who were generous to take me up to their skybox to photograph their booth setup from above!
I stopped by the Chevy booth, where Ricky Carmichael was signing autographs on Chevy issued posters. I was stoked to see such a remarkable Supercross rider but was disheartened that the posters being signed were not of him or Supercross. I noticed he had a silver sharpie and asked him to sign my lens hood. His signature would be the first of a few on my lens hood. My favorite thing to do at SEMA, other than photographing, is to meet car designers. As I was looking at the Detomaso at the Braille Battery booth, I noticed Peter Brock was talking to a media crew. I wanted to talk to him, as I have always been interested in being an automotive designer. The idea that these people create some of the most iconic cars that we know today made me know that I would be waiting until he was done so I could introduce myself. Brock designed the Shelby Daytona Coupe. After talking with him, I came to find out he knows Frank Stephenson, designer of many great cars including the Maserati MC12, Ferrari 430, McLaren MP4-12C and many more. He also had some great things to say about him. I was focused on my plan for the day, and even though I ran into a few friends, I had to keep on my schedule. My goal was to go through the whole show in the first two days and then have the last two days to do what I wanted, which includes collecting swag for my friends back home. I stopped by the PASMAG booth to talk to Randi and catch up on a few things, and found out that if the car has everything but a sound system and its something they approve for a shoot. They will have audio sponsored for the build. This made my job much easier. I spoke with John at Custom Shop to photograph his Porsche RSR . At the end of my planned stops for the day, I made my way outside to see Ryan Turek and Vaughn Gitten Jr. They were taking a Ford Mustang and F-150 sideways around the arena, unleashing the notable and enjoyable smell of toasted rubber. The smell never gets old! I met up with the rest of the 742 Marketing crew and we headed out to a Chinese buffet. Many laughs ensued and we ended the night with shared stories of the day. We proceeded home where I fell asleep as soon as we arrived.
On my second day in LV, I had an Early Bird Special type of day. I had to wake up by 5:30 a.m. and be at the show for 7 a.m. I had planned to photograph the cars before anyone showed up. This idea turned out to be better than expected. It was raining and this was perfect. No, there is no sarcasm with that statement! I enjoy shooting in the rain due to the water beading on the outside and the puddles reflecting the car. I ran around and photographed the cars outside, loving every minute of it. Most people that I walked by were complaining and here I am smiling!
This year I decided to post my cell phone pictures on Instagram to show those not to make an eye into the event as it happens. The feedback I received was positive and appreciative of the posts! Toyo Tires, Liberty Walk, and Jin Performance were a few companies that started to follow my posts. Today was a day for me to finish the last hall at SEMA, which was the Wheels and Off-road genre. Due to crowds and the large vehicles in the off road section, it was almost impossible to get a shot that I was happy with. I would have to be in everyone's way to get the full image of the truck, and I didn’t want to be “that guy”. This was the day of autographs of some well-known figures in the automotive world. I arrived at the 3M booth early enough to be the 5th in line to meet Chip Foose where he was the 2nd incredible person to sign my lens hood. Later in the day, I waited a short bit to meet Mario Andretti. My feet were killing me as these buildings are very large and I wasn’t even half way through my trip.
I met up with some Boston friends, Fedele, Jim and Kevin and we set out to go for dinner at a buffet in the Bellagio. After that, we headed to the Cosmopolitan to go to a fancy bar. I am not a bar kind of guy; it’s just not my scene. It was still fun and I was able to relax. We left and went to the Alexis Gardens where Fedele and Jim were staying. On the way there, we joked and talked. Both of them freaked me out when they said scorpions come in on nights that are cold, similar to the weather it has been this week. The next morning was sunny but cold. The forecast noted that it would be getting warmer throughout the day. I met up with the beautiful Lauren Murata, who was modeling for DUB. We were happy to see each other as we met at SEMA 2013. We walked around to the different cars. She had some fun posing and I enjoyed snapping shots of her with the cars. I also met up with my buddy Dave Gallagher from Prestige and Elite Detailing. We enjoyed looking at the cars and girls together.
Later, Brian Mello picked me up in the Slingshot to take me back to my place to rest before dinner. I went with Gary and Dave, along with the Factory Five crew to Jerry’s Nugget in northern Las Vegas. I am not one to gamble at all, but decided to take a chance. I put a $1 into a slot machine and won $22. This was perfect as it would pay for my dinner that night! After dinner, I returned to the house and played pool with Jordan from 742 Marketing. It had been awhile since I played! I turned in not too long later as tomorrow was my last day of SEMA. It was hard to fall asleep!
Mostly because it had taken me awhile to fall asleep, I had a late start. I met Brian Mello at the convention to get some shots inside when there were fewer people. Most people had headed home and companies were packing up. Dave Makein from Sudden Impact Customs and Andrew Pierce from Wrapper's Delight found us and we walked around for a little bit more. Brian and I grabbed some lunch and then proceeded across the street to head to the Formula D event. I experienced some less than friendly behavior from a few staff members at SEMA Ignited, who were purposely standing in my way as I was taking photos. I asked to shoot where no one else was and was given permission by someone I was directed to. I kindly asked a staff member if they could please stay on the left or right. Someone told me I can't be there due to safety reasons but yet Fox News is three feet to my left and they are literally standing 5 feet in front of me. It was a cat and mouse game of me moving left and right to get the shot and of them looking back and moving into my view. Wouldn't they want shots of their show that no one else is going to get? It's free publicity for them. The gentleman that was being interviewed that runs SEMA Ignited by the news crew was nice and didn't hassle me.
All in all this was another successful trip to Las Vegas to the SEMA convention. Next year I plan on staying longer and get in some photo sessions out in the desert or other locations away from the city. Thank you everyone for a successful year and as always Keeping it to the Details!
Eat your Heart out with the rest of the Photographs