Things always seem to have a way of working out in Las Vegas. Call it the City of Luck because even though you might be down on your chips at some point, things work out for the right reasons in the end. This year, we were able to end our SEMA trip on a high note, and captured something really special on a last minute plan.
“I’VE KNOWN CESAR LUNA FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS, DATING BACK TO OUR TURBO LEXUS DAYS ON CLUB LEXUS. WE’VE ALWAYS CHATTED ONLINE, AND BOUNCED VARIOUS IDEAS FOR OUR CARS BACK AND FORTH, BUT HADN’T ACTUALLY MET IN PERSON TILL SEMA 2015. “
Cesar is part of Kyoei USA, and along with Jin Ueno (the owner), the two help bring in many high-end parts for the VIP car community here in the US. Fast-forward to this year, and the two of us are catching up at the Lowballers/Squad-One VIP-Fest premeet when we started talking about doing a photo/video shoot before we all left.
Getting Cesar and Jin together for a shoot was a really good, last minute idea. On one hand, you’ve got two really awesome, US-VIP cars. Secondly, it gave us a chance to highlight a couple of cars outside of the SEMA venue. Both Cesar’s LS and Jin’s Prius have been in the SEMA show the year prior, but this year they just came to town as a stopping point before their real destination, Autofashion’s annual VIP-Fest in California. We hatched this plan on Friday night, two days before we all left, and met up the following morning at 6am for a sun-rise photoshoot.
Our initial plan was to shoot at this abandoned lot not far from the strip which would give a good backdrop of the strip. Our buddy Cesar remembered this spot from past years, and with the help of google maps, we were able to find where it was and headed out. Unfortunately, the street leading to the lot was closed due to construction, and we quickly had to come up with another option. On our drive in, we passed an establishment called Little Darlings that had some cool graffiti murals painted on the side of the building.[
WE HEADED BACK AND SCOPED THE PLACE OUT, AND FUNNILY ENOUGH, IT WORKED OUT GREAT WITH THE CARS AND THE LIGHTING.
With the sun rising over Sin City, we started snapping away with the grungy, industrial backdrop complementing the two VIP cars nicely. The color-changing wrap of Cesar’s LS460 danced in the sunrise, while the rich black paint on Jin’s Prius really came alive.=
We worked quickly as the light went from being perfect to growing more and more harsh with every minute. It was quite something to watch everyone work; four photographers and two videographers all working diligently to capture what we could.
The vibe was laid back though, and fun. We’re all talking with Cesar and Jin, exchanging stories, and bouncing ideas off one another. We were quickly forgetting they had to be on the road by 11am!
After we wrapped up shooting, it was time to do the next part of our shoot; the video. We brought along the talented duo of Sky Labs Miami which specialize in drone filming.
When we were brainstorming this shoot, we came up with the crazy idea to film the two cars rolling down Las Vegas Boulevard with drones! To watch it be done, especially from the passenger seat of Cesar’s LS460 was something else.
Speaking of riding in the LS460, as a VIP car enthusiast and VIP car owner, that cruise really left me wanting one! Cesar’s LS460 (along with Jin’s Prius) is equipped with an AirRunner On The Ground air-suspension system, and the ride quality is second to none. Cesar could roll the car low for those money shots, and raise it up to clear steep entrances and speed bumps with ease.
We eventually made our way back to their hotel, and hung out for a bit before going our separate ways. Mind you, they still had to drive to San Diego for the Auto-Fashion VIP meet the next day.
This whole experience was a crazy bit of luck that managed to work itself out in the end, and really put an exclamation point on one crazy week in Las Vegas. People often forget that SEMA isn’t always about the cars, but the people and friends you make along the way.
Big thanks goes out to Cesar and Jin from Kyoei USA for meeting up with us, and letting us put this all together!