I still remember the first time I ever stepped on Toyota Speedway two years back. At that time, I had an old school Canon T70, an SLR from the mid 80’s. Also back then, I didn’t have the luxuries of a media pass, so I had to make do. In fact, I never knew what media passes were back then. For better terms, I was a spectator nonetheless who enjoyed cars and cameras. It was a deadly, but lovely combo. Though at that time, I had no intention of starting up an automotive photography blog, I knew that somehow, cars and cameras would stick with me for the next two years.
Leading up to the summer of 2010, I familiarized myself with the top photography blogs. Sites such as Speedhunters or Fatlace were pretty much a good deal of what I wasted my time on during finals week. Homework was but a wandering memory and I was so into this lifestyle. These were sites I grew to love, yet I knew they were sites that wouldn’t let any photographer stroll on in. Since I couldn’t jump on these sites, I figured hey, why not create my own platform? From experience, I believe that if you can’t get others to notice you, then move along and take matters into your own hands. And, with no regrets, this was the best decision yet.
Summer of 2010, I was fortunate enough to meet up with a brilliant entrepreneur named Geoff Pitts, founder of Nor-Cal drift organization Thunder Drift. With the help of Geoff, this idea started to take form. For a good chunk of the summer, while learning to drift my s14 at Thunder Hill, I was multitasking and doing photo coverages. It was nothing big, nothing fancy, but most importantly it was great practice. For each photo you take, you get closer to your milestone. I think there’s a saying in photography that you develop your style after the 1000th shot, which I found to be so true.
As Formula Drift at Sonoma approached, I was invited by Geoff to work the Thunder Drift booth for Friday. I had a few days to decide whether to work the booth or not, but to be honest with you all, it’s been a dream of mine to do anything Formula Drift related. Whether it be volunteer work, doing things behind the scenes, all those little things adds up. I had to seize this opportunity. Plus, the whole TD staff was in rotation, so I was able to snatch some photo runs during the day. With that being said, I took the job and I was well on my way to Formula Drift.
Formula Drift at Sonoma was also a pivotal moment for me since I was finally exposed to the media stage. I finally saw all the top names that Geoff threw at me while we chatted earlier. Larry Chen, Lindbergh Nguyen, Antonio Alvendia and many more. These were the people you wanted to be. They were the pros, icons of the media world and leaders in industry. If you wanted to get things going, these were people you wanted to meet.
As I shot Formula Drift at Sonoma, I gained a new a eye and a new way at looking at things. Things were way clearer than my previous sets and I was starting capture those moments. This was probably the photo roll that really caught my attention. This was it, my 1000th shot.
The same weekend Formula Drift occurred was also the same weekend as Japanese Classic Car Show at Long Beach, CA. I had to skip out on FD Saturday’s festivities and head to Socal the following day. When it comes to Japanese classics, JCCS is the show to go to. You get people from across the country in attendance and better yet, a broader demographic. While shooting this event, I ran into a few people who thought I worked for magazine or some mega online publication. Which goes to show, that carrying a big lens goes a long way. Haha. I kind of felt important, though I never let it get to my head.
At JCCS, I finally met up with MotorMavens Antonia Alvendia for the first time. Super rad guy, especially compared to some other big names I met earlier in the year. Rarely do you meet people who give you the time to speak your mind, but Antonio was all open ears. So I was pretty stoked about it and being a fan of MotorMavens myself, it was nice to see some of the people who run it.
JCCS passed and I was well on my way to Formula Drift at Irwindale. With the help of friends, I managed to score a media card for the first time. It’s funny how two years ago I was sitting in the grand stand and now I was actually on track, shooting photos, and the feeling was great. The superchargers’ whine blasting your ear drums, tire debris possibly damaging your camera lens and unhealthy smoke filling up your lungs, well it all adds up to the grand package.
I met up with more people from this events, though I never knew sooner or later I’d be good friends with most of them. The funny thing is, I even met more people in the aftermath of photo coverages that followed. As Formula Drift came to a close, a majority of online photo blogs were chugging away on their own photo coverage. This is where I met SoCal photographer/writer Steven Pahel who runs Thisisflik media. Though I have no clue how you found us Steven! haha. But, nevertheless, he was more than happy to join on board and I was the same as well.
Later that week, I was hinted that Stance of the Union was hitting up Sacramento..yeup..I didn’t stutter. SOTU was actually coming to Sacramento, out of all places. Well, at first I was going to skip out on the event, but I heard some out of state cool people were attending, so I dragged my other photographer Tam Nguyen to this event. To be honest with all of you, though we worked our butts off at Formula Drift, SOTU, as simple as the event was too shoot, was one of the best things we’ve done. We received a good amount of feedback due to this event and gained better exposure along the west coast.
Redline Time Attack passed as well as some Thunder Drift events and with the help of our readers and friends, we were in good standings for an up and coming photo blog. The last big event here in California would be Gymkhana GRID. I was dying to hit up Irwindale once again since Formula Drift ended. Plus, I’d get a good chunk of the FL team shooting this event. But most importantly, in an industry such as this, it’s nice to meet up with all the friends you’ve made along the way. And that’s what really counts. Seeing all the people you’ve gotten to know and have become great friends with.
As a great friend of mine once said, “It’s all about the collective effort.” We don’t shoot events to best others, rather we shoot to inspire others. I believe we all have a story to tell and through our photography we can give our readers an better understanding of what life is really about. Take out the negativity, live life in the best way possible and capture each moment one snap at a time.
So we end 2010 on a positive note. We’re here to stay and we’re looking forward to the many opportunities that awaits us for 2011. A big thanks goes out to our friends from Thunder Drift, the UK, from Socal to the PNW, and to others worldwide. Cheers my friends.
:. Michael Cabuco