Photographing fire trucks with people – American LaFrance

Another series of assignments photographing fire trucks with people was for the American LaFrance calendar. Owned at the time by Freightliner, they had begun showing images of their trucks shot on location with firefighters. I had seen the calendars that they produced and felt they didn’t do justice to the firefighters. When I received a call to create several images for this calendar, I jumped at the opportunity (who wouldn’t want to fly around to photograph fire trucks).

Their concept was to add firefighters to the shot in their Class B uniforms (daytime station wear). I felt that most of them looked unnatural and awkward. I asked about changing the concept to include firefighters in their turnout gear with tools. I explained that most of them would be considerably more comfortable (and proud) in their gear and the addition of a tool of their choice would make them more at ease. Well, my suggestion was met with minimal enthusiasm. I promised to first shoot each assignment in Class B uniforms and then if time and cooperation permitted, I’d give them an option with full gear. That was accepted, but I was reminded that I didn’t need to stray from the current model.

One of my first stops was Superior Township, MI to shoot a 75′ TeleSqurt on an American LaFrance Eagle chassis that was built in the 3D Fire Apparatus plant. As you can see, we were right in the throws of a beautiful fall.

American LaFrance TeleSqurt with firemen for the calendar
Firefighters in Class B uniforms with an American LaFrance Eagle TeleSqurt from Superior Township, MI. Larry Shapiro photo

There’s really not that much to do with five people to make them look comfortable … I did my best and submitted this shot to American LaFrance.

American LaFrance TeleSqurt with firemen for the calendar
The firefighters put on their turnout gear and all made their own decisions about a tool that was comfortable for them. Larry Shapiro photo

When I asked if they had the patience to do another shot with gear, they were all for it. Everyone grabbed a tool that they were comfortable with and several put on their SCBA as well. Then, they were enthusiastic about adding a slightly different scene for another submission.

American LaFrance TeleSqurt with firemen for the calendar
We did another scene with gear .. . and did not do a version of this shot with Class B uniforms. Larry Shapiro photo

Now the marketing people that hired me worked with an art director who was in charge of the final layout of the calendar which included image selection. I was very pleased that the art director loved the images with the gear and insisted on choosing them for the calendar.


More on this tomorrow …