Trucks at Work

Lights, camera … calendar!

It’s that time of year again when master photographer Roger Snider and Carl Carstens of Rockwood Products reveal their now legendary “Chrome and Elegance” truck calendar – and their third collaboration generated its own share of interesting stories.

Snider and Carstens typically locate their annual photo shoot – modeled after the “Class Pays” theme created by Pierre Jacot back in the 1970s for Peterbilt Motors Co. – near the annual gathering American Truck Historical Society (ATHS) as, obviously, that particular show is chock full of well-kept classic highway iron.

ATHS held its yearly convention in Springfield, MO, this past May, but when Snider flew out to scout out photo shoot sites in that fair city back in December 2013, nothing grabbed his attention. Then Carstens suggested heading south of Springfield about an hour to the picturesque town of Branson, MO, and everything changed.

Though the locations Snider found fit perfectly for the calendar shots he envisioned, he worried that the size of the cast, gear, and crew needed to craft “Chrome & Elegance” would be off-putting to most of Branson’s residents.

So Snider contacted the city’s Chamber of Commerce in a long-shot effort at best to see if they could help him secure the spots he needed. To his surprise, not only did the Chamber help him, they even reserved several of Branson’s famous landmarks just for his use – including the Ozark cabin where Harold Bell Wright penned his famous book Sheppard of the Hills in 1907 and the Branson Landing fountains, which shoot geysers of water and flame 120 feet in the air.

In all, Snider used eight separate outdoor locations in and around Branson for the third iteration of “Chrome & Elegance,” with another six shot inside what he described as a “pristine” aircraft hangar at the town’s executive airport – with two of those six snapped on the airport’s tarmac.

Snider also hired seven models for this photo shoot – one of them a local real estate agent working in Branson, believe it or not – done up by a stylist flown in from New York City and a fashion team equipped with a stockpile of 120 dresses.

Rockwood’s Carstsens got put to work, driving a three-ton truck loaded with lighting equipment all the way from Los Angeles to Branson to make the “studio” shots of trucks taken within the Branson airport hangar really “pop,” Snider noted.

Yet Snider confessed the nine-day shoot produced a whole slew of anxieties, punctuated by on- and off-rain the entire time. “It would rain two or three times and day, like Florida, so had to be ready at a moment’s notice to shoot,” he said.

[FYI that's Snider at work at one of the locations at right. And yes, he's a lifelong fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, thus why he's wearing that hat.]

“The night shots took all night to do in most cases, with the crowd surrounding the Branson Landing shoot one of the largest I’ve ever seen when doing my work,” Snider added.

The end result, though, is nothing short of stunning – a vivid visual treat for the eyes starring classic iron from the 1960s all the way up to 2014 model trucks.

“I wanted to get high-quality shots when on location and when in the hangar-studio,” Snider said. “I really wanted to take this year’s calendar up a notch or two – and I think we really succeeded.”

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