If you regularly read my blog, follow my photography, or know anything about me at all, you already know I'm somewhat of a "car guy." Many of you already know that I recently replaced my first car - as all car people know, this is an emotional experience. I've been into photography *almost* as long as I was rolling around in my first car; a 2001 Chrysler Sebring Coupe LXi (3.0L V6), affectionately known among car communities as the "Eclipse Clone" thanks to its complete underpinnings of a 3rd generation Mitsubishi Eclipse... which explains its notoriously abysmal reliability. But more on that later.
Today's blog post is a kind of tribute to the life of my first car, as well as showing a glimpse into how my photography has grown and changed over the years. It is more of a personal post than a professional one, so bear with me. I have been busy with shoots lately as well, which are coming to the blog soon; for now, just enjoy this trip down memory lane with me - to a car guy, replacing your first car is a major life event, which I'd like to share with you.
Here I am in May of 2005, after driving the Sebring (my first car) home from the dealership.
As a Junior in high school, I'd ride the bus home, drop my bag off, get something to eat, and drive back to the school an hour later for Track practice. My first trip in the car was with a friend to Sheetz for an orange Slurpee. It was glorious.
At the time I was working my first job; a Student Ambassador (also known as a "Yellow Shirt") at Washington Dulles International Airport. This job introduced me to individuals I still work closely with to this day. Here I am getting in, as shot by one of my old co-workers.
A few pictures of me driving, from 2006 and 2011.
Of course, as the driver, most of my time was spent behind the wheel. In 2009 I was taking film photography courses in college, and one of my favorite film photos was taken while driving through a tunnel in DC. This photo has been included in my website ever since I finally got one in 2011. Contrary to appearance and logic, the bright light on the dash is NOT the Check Engine Light; it is instead the foglight indicator (when it worked - this light eventually burnt out, and was never able to be fixed - so fitting for this car's reliability record).
Likewise, one of my most asked about car photos was made around the same time - this was before GoPro was a thing, but I used a small camera with suction mount similar to the now endless GoPro videos online. Until GoPro cameras came into existence, I frequently was questioned how the photo was taken - most assumed (very incorrectly) that I leaned out the window while driving. Wow - uh, don't do that.
It didn't matter where I am; as long as it is interesting, I snap photos of car. Although it was NOT a Subaru, I did get it filthy...
...to the point where the paint color was indeterminate...
...including the chrome rims...
...on multiple occasions.
It was mostly kept clean though.
Amazingly, that was the only true photoshoot the Sebring ever got. It wasn't until a few years ago I really began shooting local car culture... and somehow I never photographed my own car. Not in the way I go about photographing cars now; trying to capture details about their personalities.
So in my Sebring's final hours, I gave it the shoot it never had. I captured every little detail about the car. Little details I may forget later in life. The infinite cracks in its horribly designed rigid-plastic dash. How the trunk release lever worked. The driver's seat view. Everything I loved and hated about the ride.
At the end, it barely ran. The engine was shot. The suspension failing. The car had been a money-pit for years (Mitsubishi). Something new has been LONG overdue.
So here's the video: The Sebring's last moments with me. The engine was so forgone no dealership would take it for trade-in despite how pretty it looked for a 14 year old car, so it was donated to a good charity who will decide how best to proceed. You'll understand why as soon as you hit Play.
And that ending... those last seconds as it departs the driveway... there is no better fitting finale to a car that had so many mechanical and electrical nightmares.
So here I am seconds before the car left - the last time I touched it...
...and the scrape heard 'round the World. You can't hear it in the video, but the tow driver also nailed the Sebring on a speed hump down the street. It was 10x more cringeworthy, if you can imagine.
A photo of myself with both cars.
I actually DID manage to grab a few glamour shots of both cars together. Jake graciously limped the Sebring to another location so I could get different angles.
Ironically, the battery died in the 10 minutes we took these pictures... between not being driven for several weeks since the G37 was purchased, and how it had been plagued with electrical problems for several years, the serendipity was less than surprising (for the last 6 months, the alarm would randomly go off if left out in the rain - it would need to be left to dry with the battery disconnected for several days before drivable again).
... and I didn't have jumper cables in the G37 yet. So we had to ditch it and come back with cables.
By now you clearly see that I've replaced the 2001 Chrysler Sebring with a 2010 Infiniti G37 S 6MT.
It hasn't been given it's own proper photoshoot yet; I've been waiting for nicer weather, prettier backdrops, and the opportunity to go on a mini-roadtrip. It will get it's own photo post later on.
To end, I'll leave you with the few photos I have taken of the new ride.
Taking delivery at the dealer.
Baby's first fill-up, car wash, and making friends at DCA. And I had similar car requirements to Kelly: Stick shift, and butt warmers.
To finish, I'll leave you with a photo from present day - getting wings with a few great friends dating back to high school track: something of a reborn tradition (we used to get wings here after track practices). Today, although we all find ourselves with different schedules, we always have time for lunchtime wings every couple weeks or so.
Joe is another car guy, with his tuned RDX Turbo, and Omar has a bug for sports coupes like myself - just a few days ago he picked up this Genesis 3.8 (the other model car I was considering against the G37), replacing his Tiburon (a car I was eyeballing before getting the Sebring).
The friendship lives on.