Alicyn Drew Photography | Portrait Photography at MINIs Take the States 2014

Portrait Photography at MINIs Take the States 2014

August 14, 2014  •  2 Comments

My husband and I just returned from an amazing trip hosted by MINI USA. It's called MINIs Take the States (MTTS) and it happens every other year. The full trip was from San Francisco to Boston but we just picked it up for a few legs traveling from Cleveland to Buffalo to Bethlehem. Before we left I announced on one of the forums that I wanted to do some portraits of people with their MINIs. I was contacted by Tracy through Facebook asking if she could assist. We exchanged cell phone numbers and I promptly forgot about it. The event was amazing and with over 400 MINIs and 1,000 people; it was easy to get overwhelmed. While in Buffalo MINI set up an evening event to party in an old urban building that was open and next to a lot of cool old urban ruins. As we left and were in the parking lot I was totally entranced by the ruins and decided I really wanted to shoot my MINI against the buildings. I got out my lights and started to set up the tripod. While I was setting up I saw a friend Mike and asked him if I could shoot him with his MINI. The first shot I did was this HDR of my own MINI named Tigger.


While I was shooting this very blond and chipper woman came over and asked if I was Ali. I said I was and it turned out she was Tracy. She had her husband Ben with her and suddenly I had two very capable assistants. So they helped me as I set up for the shot with Mike. The lighting was really tricky to include a person for several reasons. We were in an active parking lot and people kept leaving with their lights on. HDR was essential for the car and background so that I could get several exposures to combine in post. However, it's hard to have a person stand still for that so I realized that this was going to need to be a composite too.

We shot Mike's car first in the same way as I had shot mine (3 images at different exposures). Then I changed the camera settings, set up the lights for Mike and shot him. The camera stayed on the tripod the whole time. Tracy's husband Ben was my Voice Activated Light stand (VAL) and he held one of the lights with the umbrella. I have learned that VALs don't really like when I do test fires of the strobes without warning them but I always forget and they always whine about it :-)

With their help we got this awesome shot of Mike and his MINI



Next I decided to shoot Tracy with her MINI. We picked a slightly different background and used the same technique with her. This is the result


While we were shooting Tracy this really polite and sweet guy named Jason came by and asked so nicely if I would mind shooting him with his MINI. I could not turn him down, especially after seeing his lime green pllasti-dipped Coupe. But first, there was some horsing around as I set up the lights for Tracy. MINI people are a bit odd and yes, Jason was traveling with his horse head mask. I loved this little dramatic shot from our photography adventure.


So Chive on we did and we shot Jason and his awesome MINI with this result and no horse head


These portraits were so much fun to shoot and they really stretched me technically. I learned a lot and want to do more of them. There is a connection that some people will get with their cars and when it happens it's magical. It's very common for MINI owners to fall in love with their MINI and it's clear in these images that these are true MINIacs.





Terry Long(non-registered)
Great job Ali, your photagraphy skills are top notch.
Pamela Wertman(non-registered)
These photographs are incredible!
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