Unlike most automotive websites, which are focused primarily on one type of automobile, make or model across the nation or even world, Desert-Motors.com is focused on the regional automotive community; from Italian supercars to custom motorcycles to Japanese compacts.
Partial List of Published Work:
Automotive Industries (Magazine)
Basler Zeitung (Newspaper)
Car and Driver Blog (Website)
Car Lover’s Guide to Arizona – Ron Adams – Via Corsa Publishing (Book)
CarDomain.Com Blog/Events (Website)
Classic Driver Magazine (Website)
Dino: The V6 Ferrari – Brian Long – Veloce Publishing (Book)
Drive – Gestalten Publishing (Book)
Hemmings Daily (Website)
Highline Autos (Magazine)
Iron & Air (Magazine)
Performance Auto & Sound (Magazine)
RX Tuner (Magazine)
Top Performance (Magazine)
Total Evolution (Magazine)
Total Nissan (Magazine)
Via Corsa Magazine (Magazine)
The Verge (Website)
My love of cars had a bit of an inauspicious start. Growing up, cars were never something I gravitated towards, in spite of my surroundings. Like most kids, I had Hot Wheels and some model cars, but my bedroom walls were never plastered with the iconic F40 or Countach posters you so often hear referenced. My elementary school journals are mostly filled with Ninja Turtles and monsters, not Ferraris and Corvettes. There’s plenty of dinos in there, but they’re of the 100 million years old variety.
My complete lack of interest in cars came in spite of my dad’s best efforts. I’m fortunate enough to have parents that never really pushed me towards anything I wasn’t already drawn towards, but when my dad was younger he owned and worked on a number of Camaros, Chevelles and other now very collectible American cars. He always had stacks of hot rod and muscle car magazines lying around when I was growing up, he had a wall of chrome emblems he’d collected over the years in our family room and even tastefully modified and rebuilt an El Camino from the ground up in our home garage. Meanwhile I was probably playing Nintendo and completely oblivious to virtually all of that.
At some point around the age of 14, however, a switch was flipped. I’m not sure why, but it was sudden. Unfortunately, my personal journey started out on a bit of a dark path. Although The Fast and The Furious was still years out, I found myself drawn to the, then very strong, import tuner scene. I can vividly remember picking up a copy of the latest Jeg’s catalog that was lying around, thumbing to the Honda section, finding and circling the muffler with the biggest tip I could find and saying, “I want that”. I was dead set on buying a Honda del Sol and doing horrible things to it. I was looking up Erebuni body kits, giant bolt-on aluminum wings, brake drum paint, “Z3” vented fenders and just about every other awful modification you can imagine. Fortunately for me, and everyone else with eyes, I didn’t have any money or even a license at that point.
I lived in Fairbanks, Alaska at the time so there were very few positive automotive influences in my day-to-day life. However, thanks in no small part to the internet, my tastes slowly evolved and matured over the next couple years and by the time I’d saved up some money and gotten my driver’ license I bought a very respectable first car, the only Toyota MR2 Turbo within a 300 mile radius. I loved that car and wish I still had it and I’ve been fond of well-sorted midengined cars and cars in general ever since.
I also came very late to photography as well. I regrettably never took any photography classes in high school and there were never any beat up old film SLRs around the house growing up (something I now have too many of). In fact, I believe the first time I really picked up a camera and explored photography was to take photos of that first car of mine. I borrowed a friend’s point-and-shoot digital camera and found myself trying different compositions and locations and didn’t want to give the camera back. It wasn’t until I moved down to Arizona years later and bought my first dSLR that I really got into it, though. My very first shutter cycles with that shiny new camera were filled with friend’s cars and I’ve been doing automotive photography ever since.
Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to shoot a lot of really amazing cars. Some incredibly rare and some incredibly valuable. There are, however, a few shoots that really stand out in my mind. There’s the time I shot a Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM, a race-prepped but street legal beast of a car. What made the experience most memorable, though, was running out of gas in my ’67 AMC Rambler while following it to the photo location, causing me to get a lift to the nearest gas station to buy a small can and a few gallons of Unleaded in one of most valuable and rare modern Mercedes in the world (and one of only five in the States).
On another memorable shoot I found myself photographing a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB as it carved through the mountains outside of Los Angeles, shooting not only from the passenger seat of a Mini Cooper Convertible, but from inside the svelte grand tourer itself.
Tooling around in a Jaguar D-Type in the streets of San Francisco, watching people’s heads turn with delight also stands out. That beautiful and legendary racecar with its gurgling straight-six reverberating throughout the steep streets as the sun was just coming up definitely left a lasting impression.
The most memorable shoot, though, has to be the time I shot a Noble M12 GTO-3R here in Arizona. I’ve always liked that Nobles seem to be performance-first and they’re certainly not something you see every day. After being disappointed by the photo shoot being canceled with no notice, I was given a call by the car’s owner the next day, with him this time telling me to “just come by and take it for a while”. While I was aware of the marque, I wasn’t intimately familiar with the particular and specifications of the M12 GTO-3R. Some quick Googling before heading out the door gave me a basic idea of I’d be dealing with, which was something pretty potent. I was immediately impressed with the feel of the car and the experience of driving it. However, I wasn’t as impressed with the power. It wasn’t lethargic, but it wasn’t pinning me to the seat like I’d expected and had hoped it would. It wasn’t until I got on the throttle on a freeway onramp and began spinning the tires at over 60mph that I realized that up until then I hadn’t even spooled the turbos. Turns out it wasn’t your ordinary M12 GTO-3R, but one with some weight shed and a serious bump in power, putting it at around 2,300lbs while pumping out more than 600hp.
I’ve often thought about and been asked, “If you could shoot any car, what would it be?” I have yet to come up with an answer. It isn’t due to a lack of ideas, but an inability to choose just one. I’ve had some very memorable near-misses with what I’d consider “dream shoots”. Running a Ferrari factory team 250 GTO up and down an airstrip. Taking the race-winning 1986 Porsche 959 Dakar offroad for a shoot. Doing a side-by-side shoot of the iconic rival duo of the F40 and 959 (both in red). All shoots that I setup but then fell through for one reason or another. As much as I always want to shoot the latest and greatest, those are the types of shoots I find myself dreaming about most often. Cars that have mountains of history and will always be significant. The other group of cars that often have me dreaming are coachbuilt cars, one-offs and concept cars, especially the vintage ones. Really rare vintage cars you don’t often see photos of, except maybe at Pebble Beach. Things like the Ghia Fiat 8V Supersonic, Oldsmobile Golden Rocket, Alfa Romeo BATs, Pontiac Bonneville Special, AMC AMX/3, Buick Centurion, Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe Vignale, Firebird III, Holden Hurricane, Pontiac Club de Mer, Maserati A6GCS/53 Berlinetta and so many more. Regardless of exactly what it is, though, if it’s beautiful, significant, menacing, unique or somehow special, count me in. I’ll be there and I’ll have my camera with me.