Friday afternoon could not come quick enough for me. I was sitting at work behind my desk watching the time tick by slowly. I had finished all of the necessary paperwork prior during the week because I already planned to take Monday off. The drive from Charleston to Atlanta felt long, but the more my neck and back started to ache; the closer I knew I was getting. I was lucky enough to stay with friends and acquaintances from Charleston over the weekend. I caught up to them about half way to the hotel and could finally relax knowing I wouldn't have to drive at night alone with only one working headlight. (That's a different story.)
I'm going to go ahead and say that staying at America's Best hotel was, in fact, not the best experience I've ever had. The hotel was terrible and our room smelled even worse. It smelled of vomit that someone had failed to clean up. The hallways was a mixture of fried chicken, weed, and goodness knows what else. I kept telling myself it was all worth it, even as I lit the lavender incense to try and cover the smell.
Saturday morning came and I was ready. I dressed in all black, slung my camera bag over my shoulder, and hopped in line with our group from Charleston. We stopped for breakfast on the way to the Atlanta Motor Speedway and I was still anxious. I made small talk, listened here and there- but honestly, I just wanted to hurry up and get there. Unbeknownst to me, we would be waiting another three hours to get to the infield.
Once we parked inside I was gone. I didn't even tell my group bye or where I was going- just whipped out my camera and started for the Show Case. I was like a kid in a candy store. There were so many cars and hundreds more were showing up by the hour. Over 8,000 drivers and spectators attended the event.
I met so many people that made my first car show a truly wonderful experience. I was honored and flattered that people (3) approached me and knew who I was. I have only been shooting Automotive Photography for a short time now so when someone told me they loved my work I was shocked! I met up with Chris Neranjan, owner of the white STI sponsored by Deft Motion, who I had worked with last summer while visiting Nashville. Looking at the photos now I hate them and I wish I could redo the whole shoot. He commented on how far I had come along and that my images were looking great. It felt really amazing to hear that and I cannot express how much I appreciated him noticing how hard I've been working this past year.
I also had the opportunity to meet Lanorris Wilson, sponsored by Stage Motorsports with his Rootbeer colored Civic. We had been trading messages back and forth for weeks and I admit I felt a little shy. He seemed so excited to meet me and I didn't want to disappoint. Meeting Lanorris was certainly one of the highlights of my trip. It was such a privilege to meet such a genuine person who is so passionate about what they love.
Julio Lopez from Jellshots reached out to me after the first day as well, and wanted to meet. I had no idea he even knew who I was so I was pretty stoked. For those of you who don't know, he is a very talented photographer and videographer. I was excited about meeting him and promptly invited him on two one on one sessions I had set up for later that evening. We have sense stayed in touch to discuss future projects and tips.
Prior to arriving at the show I had made contact with Dustin Williams and Cade Garret of Okey Doke. I love their work and their brand that seems to grow and expand more each day. I spoke with Dustin about potentially teaming up together on a future project and once I found out he would be attending IA, I knew I had to meet him in person. Dressed in the popular Okey Doke Windbreaker, he met up with me and we talked about our experience thus far at the show. He was charming and easy to talk to. Proud but by no means arrogant. I'm really excited to work with him and hopefully bring a piece or two in the future about Dustin and his brand.
Import Alliance was a wonderful experience that I will never forget. I'm looking forward to future meets and building relationship with other creatives in this lifestyle.