Ford Ranger – Getting to the River

I tell photographers who ask me for advice they need to be shooting personal work as often as possible. If there’s a company or industry you want to get work in, fill the holes in your portfolio with the style you want to shoot (not just what you think will get you hired. Companies want to see fresh takes). It’s been a second since I’ve taken my own advice. I spent the summer in Chattanooga, TN and I was struggling to be inspired to shoot: I missed the expansive landscapes of the western US. I wanted to be building my auto portfolio, but couldn’t see past the dark & depressing tunnel of deciduous trees.

I decided I had to make something happen and come up with a solution, and the answer I came up with was water sports. I need to be able to show people recreating in their adventure vehicles in places I am not as inspired by as the west. I put out a request on some social media groups and got connected to Priscilla Brown in Bryson City, NC who had a new Ford Ranger, using it to move her full size raft around to the many rivers around the area. I scouted a location on the upper Nantahala and everything came together.

Ford Ranger driving on a mountain road in North Carolina

Ford Ranger driving on a mountain road in North Carolina

Ford Ranger driving on a mountain road in North Carolina

Ford Ranger next to a river

I didn’t have an assistant for this shoot, so I had to have Priscilla’s boyfriend, Baker, drive my Passat wagon while I hung out the back with the hatch open. I wish I had BTS footage of the drive – I made a makeshift seatbelt out of climbing gear and kept my feet on my bike rack. Worked like a charm and was totally safe…

To get the final shot of the Ranger next to the river, I put my tripod on the roof of my car, Ansel Adams style, triggering the camera with the Canon app and firing a Flashpoint XPLOR 300 in a Glow octabox all around the truck.

A Ford F-150 Raptor in the Tetons

I started a road trip before all of Covid-19 craziness began in this country, planning on ice climbing in Cody, WY; skiing in Jackson Hole; skiing Snowbird & Alta; skiing in Tahoe; then making my way to Los Angeles for portfolio reviews with NYCFotoworks-LA. I was hoping to setup some shoots along the way, focusing on automotive lifestyle, but by the time I got to Jackson Wyoming, things had started to get weird. 

In a last ditch effort to try and make something happen, I saw a shiny white Ford F-150 Raptor at a trailhead and approached the owner. Ross was psyched to get photos of his truck, so we went searching for a snowy road. 

I had him drive his truck, spinning the wheels in the snow, past me closer than he thought was comfortable, but I kept telling him to get closer. Finally we got the right amount of throw in the perfect framing. 

I wanted to get a bit of a different angle, put on the 70-200 and had Ross do a few more laps. When he threw the backend into the embankment blasting through the snow, I knew we had the perfect shot. 

Camera: Canon EOS R
Lens: Sigma 35mm Art f1.8, Canon 16-35mm f4, Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS v3