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Celebrating the art of trucks

Sept. 13, 2013
I’ve known master photographer Roger Snider for a while now, reporting on his efforts to chronicle custom trucks and their owners from North America through Europe and Asia via his Ultra Rigs of the World project.

Now, however, he’s embarked on a new endeavor: to breathe life into what he calls a “classic art form” that combines trucks with glamorous models done up in high fashion, paying homage to the “Class Pays” advertising campaign crafted for Peterbilt Motors Co. well over three decades ago.

[Incidentally, Peterbilt celebrates its 75thanniversary next year – talk about good timing!]

Snider’s “Chrome & Elegance” truck calendar venture is the second such enterprise he’s crafted in cooperation with Carl Carstens of Rockwood Products, but this time – for the 2014 edition – they’ve taken this calendar concept to a whole new level.

“We really wanted to bring back that true ‘classic’ look used in photo shoots of trucks in the past – a real studio, not something crated in photoshop, with real models complementing the vehicles,” Snider told me by phone from his home base in Hollywood, CA.

So Snider and Carstens decided to go “all out” on their second calendar project. They planned to hold the shoot in Yakima, WA, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the American Truck Historical Society (ATHS), put together an old-style crew to handling lighting needs and location scouting.

They ended up renting a vacant 60,000 square-foot warehouse in the Yakima area that previously served as a motorhome manufacturing facility. After cleaning the floor to a high glossy sheen (doing it twice to get it just right) and covering all the building’s skylights, Snider and Carstens decided to create a huge backdrop made up of apple crates to give the shoot a local “flavor.”

Fashion models decked out in glamorous gowns complemented the trucks Snider and Carstens selected for the shoot – with some of the classic iron coming right from the ATHS convention floor.

“What we’ve tried to do with this project is craft what I call a ‘classic’ statement about old-style trucks; to show that they are truly ‘art’ and need to be treated as such,” Snider (standing in thecenter of the photo at right) explained to me. “My hope is that this calendar not only appeals to the truck enthusiast, but that it captures the imagination of a wider audience and in that process helps changes the often negative view held by the public of the trucking industry.”

There’s another fascinating wrinkle to this story, too, as Snider made a side trip from this calendar adventure to meet up with one of the original creators of the famous “Class Pays” advertising campaign – a man by the name of Pierre Jacot.

But that story must wait for Monday … 

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