Trucks at Work

California Dreaming … with Chrome & Elegance

So I caught up with Roger Snider the other day; one of the premier photographers working in and around the truck industry these days.

For the last couple of years, Snider has collaborated with Carl Carstens of Rockwood Products to craft a truly unique show truck calendar dubbed Chrome & Elegance – and their impending 2016 creation looks to be just as stunning as their previous efforts.

[Go here, here and here to view Snider’s previous work on this one-of-a-kind calendar.]

For the 2016 edition of Chrome & Elegance [more of which you can view here] Snider returned to his “roots,” after a fashion. Crafted with a “California Dreaming” theme in mind, Snider told me he photographed several of the chosen trucks among some of the iconic landscapes of the Golden State: verdant rolling hills, bold mountaintops, sun-swept beaches, even tapping the University of Southern California (USC) campus to generate a unique architectural backdrop.

“I’ve wanted to produce a calendar in and around my hometown – Hollywood – for a while,” Snider explained by phone. “There are a lot of backdrops in the 2016 calendar that were used in television and movie productions, too, such as the old ‘Star Trek’ series and the film ‘Swordfish.’”

Originally, he wanted to use only California trucks in the 2016 calendar but (thankfully) Snider changed his mind as that would’ve eliminated what he calls “the particular look" of Midwestern rolling iron.

As a result, about half of the 12 trucks in the calendar are from California, while the other half hails from Oklahoma, Iowa, Michigan, and other Midwestern states.

The distances those Midwestern rigs had to travel initially worried Snider. “It’s one thing to travel 300 miles; quite another to go 2,000 miles, for the risk of something problematic happening along the way increases the greater the distance,” he pointed out. “But thankfully it all worked out. Everyone made it.”

It also proved in some ways to be a less costly shoot, as the models and “glam squad” needed for makeup, hair styling and costuming were all locally based. “That helped keep our budget in check,” Snider added. “The local nature of the shoots also allowed us to photograph two trucks per day.”

Snider conducted all the photography back in May this year, with most of the outdoor shoots occurring during what he calls the “golden hour,” which is the last hour of light before true sunset.

“The light as it goes beyond the horizon really illuminates a truck perfectly,” he said. “We also had a lot of late-season spring storms in May, generating moody yet beautiful skies to work with.”

For perspective on how much work is involved, Snider said it takes him and his team between three and half to five hours to complete a single truck shoot. Snider would pick a spot for his camera, from which it never moved, then maneuvered the truck into position.

Models would be shuttled in by van from a central “base” set up in a rented 1925-era house (you can see photos of it here) that also served as an impromptu hotel of sorts for the truck owners coming in from out of town.

“The sooner we got in and out of our photo shoots, the better, for we paid for our permits by the hour,” Snider explained.

It all worked like clockwork, he said – like a well-oiled artistic machine – and the end result is, as usual, spectacular and full of trucking history as well.

“We definitely included cabover tractors – three of them – because I just love that look,” Snider said. “We also featured classics, especially Peterbilt 359s, as well as some late model 2012 and even 2016 units – definitely going for the ‘chrome look’ throughout; all in all providing a very nice range of truck types to look upon.”

I’ll say it does. I’ll say it does indeed.

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