Photographing trucks at work

For several years I had the good fortune of being a go-to photographer for Freightliner Trucks, specifically working with vocational trucks (Business Class models). What this meant was that my contact at Freightliner was constantly seeking out different applications or end uses for trucks on their chassis. My task was photographing trucks at work either on location with an end user or a company that finished the build up.

Sometimes this was very interesting, like the assignment outlined here … then of course there were other times.

Anyway, we were looking for tank trucks built on Freightliner chassis. And, it was never enough to find just one, because it was important to find trucks built by several different manufacturers so as not to alienate any one customer if we were creating a sales piece for a specific industry.

So, I got this call … about a real cool application that we were going to have access to. It was a fuel truck that was stationed at the Naval Support Facility Anacostia which is a base for the presidential helicopters in Washington, DC. We were going to be able to get an application shot with the Marine Corps helicopters that serviced the President of the United States … pretty cool.

Now, take note that this was well before the mass murders on 9-11-01 and the subsequent increased security that swept the nation.

My client decided to fly out and join me on this particular assignment.

We arrived at the Anacostia facility and met with the Marines. They informed us that this facility was too secure for us to enter, but we’d been cleared for the shoot at the base in Quantico. There was a catch or two … they were not offering a driver … we had to drive the truck, and since it carried fuel that had already been cleared for the Presidential helicopters, an armed Marine guard had to stay with the truck. Well that was okay with us, and my associate had a valid CDL and was fine with driving the roughly 40 miles to Quantico … with the President’s fuel!  The Marine explained that he was the one at the base of the helicopter stairs when the President boarded and deplaned.

So, when we arrived at Quantico, they told us that we couldn’t photograph the President’s white-top helicopters but we were allowed access to a HMX-1 CH-46, which was just fine with us.

We set up several shots …

USMC Marine Corps HMX-1 CH-46 with fuel truck
USMC Marine Corps HMX-1 CH-46 with a fuel truck. Larry Shapiro photo

Then we asked the Marine to be in the photo as well as a couple of flight line workers … for the money shot.

USMC Marine Corps HMX-1 CH-46
Workers fueling a USMC Marine Corps HMX-1 CH-46 with a guard. Larry Shapiro photo

This was one of the rare occasions that I allowed the client truck to not totally dominate the frame … and with the client’s blessing … the shot was a definite hit … not to mention an incredibly cool opportunity for us both.