Category Archives: car photography

Back in the saddle…

| currently listening to: Divine Invasion, Trans Am, Liberation, 2004 | LINK

the photography:

It’s been exactly 3 years, 3 months, and 1 day since I left my position as Staff Photographer and Staff Photo Editor at Cars.com. A lot has happened in that amount of time. I will try to list them briefly here in no particular order:

– Archibald (Archie) Brian Fitzsimmons Merritt was born
– I’ve helped launch 4 new vehicles for Subaru of America while traveling to Iceland & England
– My photography helped launch a ton of Sharpie Products since 2012
– Hefty and Reynolds Consumer Products have used my lifestyle photography extensively
– I shot multiple photographs that were included in Doug Sohn’s Hot Doug’s The Book
– I’ve discovered less hair on my head and more gray hairs within the amount that is left

I guess it could be worse.

I started this blog as an outlet years ago to broadcast the work I was creating that did not have a place to live. It was a landing for any photo projects, fine art, and non-Cars.com photography that I started and wanted to show off. I named it “I am a working artist…” because I wanted to relate to people that being an artist in the real world meant that many times your creativity needed to take a back seat to your production and technical expertise.

Unless, of course, that you are being bankrolled. That would be awesome.

I strive to reopen this part of my career. This blog will once again stand as a creative outlet, a portal, a creative abyss, a photo dump…

Make art. Make Art. Make. ART.

the music:

TRANS AM.
I have followed this band’s career since the late 90’s when two musician friend’s introduced them to me during my last few years of college. The bass, guitar, synth, drums, midi-triggers attack of this three piece intrigued me to no end. I have always want to make as much noise as possible with other musicians in the same way that these three friends do it. Sebastian is also one of the best drummers I have ever seen. Period.

This is the man behind Ken Block’s Blockhead logo: Huck Gee

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Almost every racing fan and avid Jalopnik reader under the age of 37 knows who Ken Block is. Oh… you mean Ken Block the DC Shoe brand creator, GoPro slinger, Tire Slaying Hoonigan, and Gymkhana master? Yeah, I’ve heard of him. But do you know the man behind one of motorsport’s most recognizable logos? He’s just a man. A man they call Huck Gee.

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Funny thing is, if you’re a toy collector who frequents stores such as KidRobot and Rotofugi and you collect modern art, then you already know Huck from his work with KidRobot’s Dunny’s (standardized vinyl bunny toy designs that start life as matte black and are painted by various artists). What you might not know is that Huck’s 2007 8″ Dunny titled “Hello my name is” now sits in the New York Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection and he has consigned several projects for Christie’s Auction House. You may not know his name but Huck’s work is so sought after, his new pieces sell out quicker than Springsteen at Wrigley. Not bad for a graffiti artist from South Central Los Angeles.

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But I’m getting ahead of myself. Huck is first, and foremost, a fine artist and designer who has a serious car problem. Born in England, Mark (Huck) Gee, emigrated to Los Angeles with his family at the age of six when his father, a transmission rebuilder, capitalized on a lucrative opportunity to start his own transmission garage here in the states. Huck’s father was an amateur rally driver back in the UK who’s hobbies included rebuilding Porsche shells in the garage on the weekends. Surprisingly, Huck didn’t catch the car bug until he was well into his mid/late twenties.

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These days, Huck can’t stop his addiction to cars. A Subaru enthusiast to the core, Huck time attacks his heavily modified Alpine White 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. These modifications could be listed but you’d be scrolling for a while. He’s owned 4 Subies: 2 bug eye WRX’s, his current STI, and a Forrester that he has eyes on converting to an STI. A fair amount of the work is done by Huck’s friends over at LIC Motorsports in Lovato, CA. Subaru wrenchers might recognize their name as LIC Motorsports was the first Subaru shop to complete an RS to WRX engine conversion. Excellent friends to have.

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Enough about Huck, let’s talk about his art. Blockhead came about as Huck was tapped to initially design the entire car wrap:

“We planned on doing a play on my own iconic Skullhead character for Ken’s logo and car wrap. Tying in his name just made sense. It was originally going to be plastered down the side of his STi but about 90% of the way through the project it was brought to my attention that No Fear energy drink had a giant skull on the side of their X-Games car which meant my wrap design got scrapped. We still managed to keep the logo, thankfully.”

And then Block changed teams. So the final wrap?
Ended up on a (gasp) Ford.
Block had this to say about working with Huck:

“The skull logo that Huck designed for me has been amazing. Between using it on my cars and incorporating it into my gear with DC, the overall reception has been extremely positive. Fans love it, I love it and my other sponsors like it as well, because it’s now so readily identified as my mark thanks to how much I’ve used it these past few years. They know that if they incorporate it into things they’re doing that relate to me, fans will instantly recognize it.”

So next time you take a look at a piece of art, a car, a toy, a logo… Always remember that there are hundreds of man hours that went into making it look awesome and there is always a creative person (and most likely a creative team) behind it, from idea creation to the refinement and all the way to the final execution. Huck may not drive like Ken but he’s getting there. No worries. His design work, creativity, and personality are off the charts.

Although Huck doesn’t have any large car projects on his design radar (except for a few LIC Motorsports race car wraps), he loves to dream about driving. Maybe in the near future, Huck can list “having-my-work-embossed-on-the-top-of-the-brake-lever-of-a-WRC-championship-car” to his list of accomplishments. Your move Ken…

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Full disclosure? I spent about 10 hours with Huck last summer at his studio in San Francisco. The fine people at Subaru supplied us with a brand new 2013 Subaru BRZ to show off and Huck and I made sure the kids over at LIC Motorsports got a good look at it. Lucky for me, the trip coincided with the famed Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance outside of Monterey, CA which means… well… Gobs of pretty photos.

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Here’s a video of Huck driving Thunderhill shortly after I met him in 104 degree weather. Diehard indeed.


It’s been a while…

So in the past year or so since I last posted, life has moved pretty quickly in the Merritt household. I’ve shot a major in-store campaign for Sharpie pens, my wife gave birth to our second child Archibald, I’ve shot the Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach for Bentley Motors, and I’ve even updated Hot Doug Sohn’s head shots for his new book coming out this summer. Obviously these are just the highlights but It’s been a wild ride. And now it’s time to post some images. I plan on doing this more and more this year as I explore some interesting new work, face new challenges behind the camera, and try to decipher where my career is headed. Also, I’ll tell you about the time a $20K piece of camera equipment died in the middle of a shoot with 3 main models and 35 extras dancing in a night club at 11:45am. Long story. Enjoy some car porn in the meantime.

Sincerely,
– Ian

driving rain

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 200mm
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 200mm
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 200mm
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 200mm
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 200mm
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 200mm
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 200mm
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 200mm
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 200mm
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 200mm
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 200mm
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 200mm
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 200mm
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 200mm
EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

| currently listening to: I’m Not Surprised, Bats and Mice, Believe It Mammals, 2007 | LINK

the photography:
moving vehicles provide some of the more invigorating subjects for me as a photographer. capturing movement, power, chaos, and motion within a frame, then bottling and selling it as emotion is something i strive for. i love wheels, grilles, motion blur, screaming motors, rumbling exhaust pipes, road noise, whipping wind, and most of all, the constant hum of the highway below your car. i just can’t think of a more comfortable place to be than moving on a highway, griping a wheel, scanning the horizon, becoming one with the car, glancing at the stereo, grinning. there is something very american, very wild west, very cowboy about driving on the open highway. something intrinsically human about moving at speed with all the weight and power behind you, throttle in your control, brakes within reach, and just a large chunk of metal, rubber, plastic and glass between you and the wind.

i’m scared shitless to ride a motorcycle and to be honest, the safety of an automobile suits me just fine. i don’t need to feel the wind through my receding hairline, i just need to know it’s there if i open the window or let the top down.

here are 15 photos taken in succession while riding shotgun. incessant rain and the big rigs of the midwest were my primary focus for the day. i spent a good ten minutes with my body pressed against the inside of the door so as not to create camera shake at 200mm. one 18 wheeler plowing through the rain become my obsession. so i took as many photos as i could. these are the ones that came out.

they also look great animated.

the music:
bats and mice are a fantastic little band from nc. they rock and they roll. and i like them for it.

led by the charismatic Ben Davis, bats and mice are a traditional three piece that play post rock. there’s not much more i can say about them other than they may or may not be a band right now as it is the ultimate side project. they also may or may not be one of the best live acts around. playing off the dynamics of soft – loud, fast – slow, and complicated – less complicated, these boys bring it. they also can sing. and that goes a long way. virtuosic playing while singing in key helps a ton with selling cd’s when you’re a band that someone may have seen at end of a long night out or just ran into the show with only half a song left. these dudes would make it worth your while. for sure.

perfect rainy day music.

men and their toys

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 1600 – Focal Length: 43mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 1250 – Focal Length: 42mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 30mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 54mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: 3.2 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 45mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 2000 – Focal Length: 57mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: 2.8 – ISO: 3200 – Focal Length: 38mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/5 sec – Aperture: 8.0 – ISO: 3200 – Focal Length: 42mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/4 sec – Aperture: 8.0 – ISO: 3200 – Focal Length: 58mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

Exposure: 1/8 sec – Aperture: 8.0 – ISO: 3200 – Focal Length: 24mm
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – Camera: Canon 5D Mark II

| currently listening to: Porno Queen, Paris, Texas, Action Fans Help Us!, 2007 | LINK

the photography:
men and their toys. as a full fledged automotive journalist (i’ve adopted the title these days. it was only a matter of time) every time i go to work i see lots of fan boys, dreamers, droolers, wrenchers, car dorks, motor nerds, and gearheads. i even work with a couple of them. it’s awesome. certain automobiles create such a response from just about everyone who sees them. these cars are powerful enough as design pieces, engineering feats, and just plain aesthetic awesomeness, to evoke giddiness from even the most chill of people.

case in point: this series of photos depicting men in cars. at the core, both nathan and joe are car enthusiasts (although joe is a professional automotive journalist – i think i added that title to my name so that i could be in the same profession as joe). both men enjoy the roar of a V8, the centripetal pull of a tight corner at high speeds (with quality tires), and the joy of lighting up a rear wheel drive beast on a slick surface.

nathan is sitting in what amounts to a couple of million dollars worth of steel, rubber, glass, and leather that he subsequently does not own (nor will he ever i suspect). these cars are museum quality and there are very few examples in the world like them. nathan is as happy as a pig in shit.

joe, on the other hand, is hanging out with his infamous Fiat 2000 Spyder (infamous for once being owned by a famous brother from a famous car radio show). it’s in decent shape for a 30 year old car but it won’t be taking home any blue ribbons at the Concours D’Elegance at Pebble Beach next year. joe is as happy as a pig in shit.

how can this be? how can they both be happy when they are obviously in completely different situations with vastly different cars? well… pictured above are two men who like cars. nay… two men who love cars. if their roles were reversed, each man would still be smiling, still gripping the steering wheel with pleasure, and they would each be happy to be smelling a carburetor. cars capture our attention via all of our senses, feeling the rumble of the idle, seeing the sleek metal lines, hearing the engine, smelling the combustion of gasoline, tasting the exhaust, and smelling the leather. cars are powerful forces of happiness as much as they are sources of severe unhappiness (especially when they do not work).

that is why… in about a month or two i will be launching a new automotive photojournalism site for car enthusiasts who like pictures of cars. the site is titled Shinyside.net and it’s a labor of love of mine that hopefully will grow and prosper with every visitor. i’ll still be posting here (albeit more often) and my love affair with automobiles will be on display at that URL.

the site will be dedicated to vintage, rare, old daily drivers, and fun cars that pique my interest as a photographer. i’ll keep you posted as it’s gonna take a lot of work to get it off the ground.

SIDE NOTE: i love the second photo. it’s probably my favorite photo that has not only a person but also a car (since i take lots of photos of each individually, not so many together). thanks to nathan for helping out in documenting all those pretty sweet rides… and thanks to joe for letting me live my ferris bueller dream of rolling down lakeshore drive in a vintage italian whip sans top.

the music:
oh my, Paris, Texas is one poppy fun band to bounce along to. these wisconsinites land somewhere directly between Minus the Bear, and Hey Mercedes. their mix of pop punk, musicianship, and sing-songy chorus’ make for an enjoyable mash-up of fun.

i also love that on their label’s website that their sound is ‘non-emo’. it must have taken more than a few craptastic reviews pointing to their ’emo-ness’ for them to go so far as to call their music, ‘non-emo’.

love it. enjoy.