Trying to pack for a months-long stay is a challenge – it’s a lot of putting things in, and then taking them right back out. My luggage also needed to fit in the trunk of a Porsche 914 along with David Geisinger’s as well.
I arrived at Dave’s house in Boston around 5pm so we could get on the road to New York and beat the snow storm that was going to hit later. Peter and Tara showed up in Pete’s Porsche 911 which he put a lot of work into. It had Alexa built in which was cool.
It was the 1st of March and absolutely freezing out and we’re in a 914 that has no heat, and for some reason had cold air blasting through the foot wells. I had to take my sweatpants and stuff them into the vented areas just to try to get feeling back into my toes. I bought a Whoopee Cushion at the Cracker Barrel we stopped at for dinner and knew for sure that I was going to get Dave at some point during our trip. It was $2 well spent!
We awoke the next morning to find the ground covered in snow, so I rushed quickly outside to get some photos of the three Porsches. Our friend Mez met us there in his Porsche so we could all travel to the NB Center for American Automotive Heritage in Allentown, Pennsylvania. As the guys tried to fix the cold air issue, I started singing the song from the movie “Frozen” out of pure madness. I ended up switching cars at one point to get pics of Dave’s car and the heat nearly burnt my finger off. I took a video of how warm and wonderful the other car was and rubbed it right in Dave’s face. I got a good chuckle out of it.
As we neared our final destination, we came across other cars that were attending the rally. One of them was a Marcos GT, which is made of wood! We entered a beautiful stone barn and I was greeted by Dave Hord and Tabetha Hammer who handed me my packet and had me sign a few things. Upon meeting them, my good friend Nick Williams from Jacksonville, Florida greeted me as he now works for the Historic Vehicle Association as their Digital & Social Media Strategist . Nick and I photographed for the Amelia Island Concours last year and this year he was photographing for the HVA. Great to see him making big strides with his life choices.
Nick took me up to the photo studio that Michael Furman had designed for Nicola Bulgari, who was the owner of the center. The massive infinity wall loomed above with a Tucker sitting on a turntable. And it wasn’t just any Tucker either, it was the famous 1947 Tucker 48 Tin Goose prototype. He let me take a few pictures with their camera and lighting setup just to get a feel for what it would be like to shoot with this type of setting. It was fun, but I still like shooting outdoors as you can capture more than one emotion. It does show the elegance and beauty of a car, however, and Michael Furman’s work does just that!
We went back to mingling with some of the people we would be spending the next couple of days with touring the roads to Florida. During the event they treated us to dinner and a movie, and opened the back windows to display a full drive-in theater. We chose to watch the chase scene from the movie “Bullit”, which is simply epic.
After the movie, we all took off to top off our gas tanks – the moment I have been waiting for had come! As Dave was filling up the car, I was waiting anxiously inside for him to get back in. He dropped into his seat and plplplplplffffftttt. The Whoopee Cushion strikes again! I had a big smile from ear to ear, but I’m not sure Dave did, haha.
Sunday, March 3rd was our first day on the road with everyone and it got off to a slow start as I messed up the directions right off the bat. I had just got done telling Dave how good I am at reading a map from when Joe and I did the Bugatti tour. I got some great photographs of the cars from inside our car. Because it was so cold, I noticed that the curvature of the windshield on the Porsches blur every image and make them hazy. Looking back out at Andrew Male in his Alpina B10 with the flurries and curvy road through the woods was perfect!
Our next destination was lunch in Knoxville, Maryland at the Guide House Grill. I sat at the bar and chatted with Jeannie the bartender and a gentleman by the name of Stephen Skinner. They were wonderful, kind people and we got to talking about Oshkosh EAA Airventure, as he was a pilot. One of my favorite parts about traveling are the great new people you meet and share experiences with.
We continued driving to Tom O’Brian’s garage which housed some ridiculous Corvettes! He had a C2 Corvette Grand Sport parts car, and the first drag car to do a 10 second quarter mile. Later that evening we stopped at the Heritage Brewing in Manassas, Virginia where we had a few beers and pork sandwiches. As I went to sleep, I kept thinking about the next long, exciting day we had ahead of us.
Down on Sam Snead Highway is a ginormous hotel called the Omni Homestead Resort which is where we were headed for lunch. During this entire trip you have to realize that I simply couldn’t put my camera down. I wanted to capture the entire trip for Dave as he is the one that invited me, and also because it was a great opportunity to show Hagerty my work and how I might be an important asset. So, all the shooting and work I did was out of passion, but also out of wanting to build a stronger business. With that being said, when everyone was eating lunch, I went to explore this magnificent place. I ran around the entire building and even ended up on a roof by accident. I found a movie theater that was pitch black until I found the switch. I instantly felt like I was back in time and it was kind of eerie.
There was one brutally cold night when we stopped at the Old Cranks Museum in Galax, Virginia. I spent most of my time outside trying to get light painting of some of the cars we were traveling with. While everyone else was eating, I felt compelled to be outside trying to get the shots I wanted. I feel that you just have to keep living every moment to the fullest. I could have been inside with everyone, warm and full, but I wanted to use that time creatively creating a memory. It’s one of the things I love most about photography.
The Tuesday of our trip we ended up driving some of the best roads of the entire journey. Swirling around on these beautiful mountain roads in a Sunbeam Tiger with the top down was a dream come true. Brad Philips just got this car put together the night before the event. It was my favorite part about the trip – being crazy in the blistering cold using a convertible as a camera car.
As I saw opportunities open up, I would try to get people to place their cars where I would get a great shot. Up on a mountain in Little Switzerland, Virginia we stopped to grab some grub in at the Big Lynn Lodge. There I met Larry Webster, the editor for Hagerty Magazine. If you haven’t subscribed to their magazine it is a definite must have. The imagery and stories are what I would want to see in a mag.
The scenic views around Maggie Valley, North Carolina where Brad Philips spent most of his time growing up were spectacular. Just down the road was a place called Wheels Through Time, an American motorcycle museum and boy, is it flippin’ amazing! Inside this massive warehouse is an insane amount of working American vintage motorcycles, and they are displayed in life size diorama to create a desired look. It made photographing more fun as there were so many different angles to go at.
March 6th. I was back in the 914 with Dave and we came across a waterfall alongside the road. The idea popped in my head to have him go along and I will find another ride after I get a few pictures. That’s when this fancy Rolls Royce came around the corner. I climbed into the back of Mike’s Rolls and sat back and edited some photos. It was so cool! We soon found another waterfall and I needed to make this shot epic! I constantly think about how I can make mine pictures different than everyone else’s. The answer? Work for it!
My favorite place we explored was the Chattooga Belle Farm. There was a helicopter parked in a field and some random cows off in the distance. As much as I wanted to sit and socialize, I know that in my line of work, pictures do the talking and if you create a powerful memory for someone, they will always support you. Even though Dave didn’t walk the ¼ mile out into the vineyard to get up close to the cows, he did see them off in the distance. It’s my job to capture them in a different way to set the tone for the experience.
Later that evening we listened to Ed Bolian tell us his adventures on setting the Cannonball Record of 28 hours and 50 minutes. It is a very difficult task and the right equipment is needed. You have to be smart and know what times are best and do an exorbitant amount of research.
March 7th found us on the final stretch to Amelia in Eatonton, Georgia. The weather was finally tolerable, probably somewhere in the high 50s. I reached out to Guy Smith to see I could share some photos from the tour for the movie night when we arrive. It was great to share some of my favorite photos and funny moments with everyone. This ‘Amelia or Bust’ tour was truly phenomenal and next year if I go, I plan on enjoying life through my viewfinder yet again.