Picture this the weather is quiet wet in Ireland...hurricane Ophelia is in full force, phone signals gone but I still have an internet connection...surfing the internet, especially Facebook...Larry pops up on my list of active friend's on line...I met Larry many moons ago in Mondello Park, when he was over taking pictures of pro drift what's now Irish Drift Championship. When you first meet Larry you'll sense what a nice genuine fella he is and how approachable he was to everyone who knew exactly who he was. Researching stuff for DriveTribe I had a brainwave....I wonder would Larry be interested in a chat/interview for DriveTribe....open chat click on his Facebook icon and send the message....waiting for the little tick to appear that the message had been seen and waiting for the reply was probably the most nervous five minutes of my life...the reply I got was 'Sure'......the nerves kicked in this was only my second big interview for DriveTribe...what do I ask what do I say...hurricane Ophelia in full swing Larry suggest that we do it straight away I agreed...lack of phone signal made it impossible for Larry to ring me or for me to ring Larry. With the 8 hours time difference between Ireland and Los Angeles we decided to have the chart the following day...all going well with the hurricane.
The following evening arrived, hurricane Ophelia gone, my nerves kicked in, my phone rang it was Larry, the legend of a photographer had rang me, our chat for DriveTribe was to commence. I'd been a fan of Larry's since I had meet him in Mondello park all those years again, one thing you'll notice about Larry is how much of a genuine nice guy he is, his very approachable and will talk away to you answer your questions, something else I noticed about him is how he actually gets every aspect of car culture from autocross to drifting, how people pour their heart and souls into their cars etc and how he wants to showcase it all.
So who is Larry Chen you ask?
Larry is a senior contributor at speedhunters, everyone has heard of speedhunters, Ireland been represented at speedhunters by our own Paddy McGrath. Living in Los Angeles he has travelled the world.
Between his senior editor role at Speedhunters and other commitments, I don’t need to tell you that Larry Chen is one of the hardest working photographers in automotive media. When he’s not capturing on average 750 photos every single day, Larry can usually be found processing images, which takes hours longer than taking the actual pictures. He has been working at Speedhunters since 2010..making it 7 years now. Working for Speedhunters has also led Larry to work with the likes of Ken Block, Formula Drift competitions and continues car builds in between working for Speedhunters this man truly knows how to take a picture and knows how to show case every aspect of the car culture.
One of my first questions for Larry was where did the love of cars and photography start for him?
The love of cars came first for Larry starting in high school buying his first car when he finished high school,buy something fixed it up drive around with friends, he took part in Autocross and released he wasn't the fastest of driver, soon realizing that he was better at taking pictures than driving fast!
His first love still to this day is cars followed closely by photography, since joining speedhunters in 2010 Larry does his won thing, be believes in featuring things he think is cool, showcasing them to the world via speedhunters, he pays his own way and in the early days traveled to Goodwood Festival of Speed, to take pictures. Other places and sure fire favourite places Larry has traveled to are Tokyo (who wouldn't love to travel to Tokyo) and Europe to ''wet'' his feet in photography. One of Larry's favorite thing to cover that no one else seems to cover is the hill climb event in mexico...why? Been out in the hills of mexico integrating with the locals who are in awe of this awesome event something they haven't seen before.
Asking Larry what his first love to this day is?
Cars followed by Photography,although been asked that question he finds it hard to pick between them. He often attends local car meets in his own car a Porsche to meet with fellow car lovers and sometimes just to chill out away from the camera lens, as everyday well most days Larry takes an average of 750 pictures, 5 to 6 days continues shooting that's alot of pictures, the week previous to the chat I had with Larry Formula Drift's last round of the season was held at Irwindale, in total at that one event Larry took 19,000+ pictures, with 3 camera bodies and 3 remote cameras.
He says 'People don't realise how much time is spent in front of the computer, for 2 days shooting it can take up to 5 days to process the images and write the accompaning article'.
Moving on I asked Larry was there ever an event he hasn't covered that he would love to cover?
Speedweek on the salt, a 24hour Le Mans event. Everytime he tries to cover one of these events there is another event on which he has to cover.
Moving on I asked Larry why does he do what he does photography wise....I try my best to take my car photography and photojournalism to a serious level sometimes when i don't cover life changing events I still document any type of events for future generations, it's important to me to portray it in a good positive light! The most enjoyable part for Larry shooting cars is his love of cars came first, that's how he justify's his hobby, I just can't enough of cars, I love driving I love working on cars and i love taking pictures of them.
What's you relationship with Formula Drift and how long have you been with them, was my next question, Larry is the official photograpaher at Forumla Drift and has been for the last 12 years, it's a place he calls home now, like many of us who spend alot of time at a racetrack,car meets or indeed if your lucky enough to work in the automotive industry places like this can become home.
As a professional photographer I asked Larry where was his favourite place to shoot cars in.....It was of course Tokyo..the reason there are hidden car shops and garages over there, rare cars that you don't see that often certainly not outside of Japan, Japanese people don't seem to understand what they are doing is so cool and wonder why other people would be interested in it, some of the coolest cars are in Japan.
Talking to Larry the conversation soon moved to the time he visited Ireland, Mondello Park for Pro Drift which is known as IDC (Irish Drift Championship) these days, his good friend Darren McNamara took him under his wing while he was here in Ireland and showed him around Ireland. Darren showed Larry all aspects of the car culture that was in Ireland at the time he even treated him to a few pints of the black stuff.
I've seen alot of Larry's work with Ken Block and I wondered should I ask him about him Ken..someone I admire for the way he pushes everything to the limit. So what is Ken block really like to work with, he is an introvert,reserved but driving brings out the passion he has for cars as well as the at social media brings out his personality and he in turns pushes everything to the limit while he is driving and gives it 100%. Ken does other things Larry believes people don't want to do, some insight into Ken, Larry told me he only started doing what he does when he turned 30 years old some 10+ years ago. He is one of Larry's favourite people to work with mainly because he pushes the limit so much.
Wrapping up my chat with Larry I ask him what his final thought was...contributing to speedhunters makes him look at the positive side of events/person, he always wants to talk about the best not the bad.
He believes this is his dream job and it shouldn't exist he gets to play with cars and travel, it shouldn't happen to him,feels very lucky to have his dream job..
One thing that will strike you if your ever lucky enough to meet Larry is what a genuine nice approachable fella he is and what a truly amazing and outstanding photographer he really is.
Have a look at this 12 minute long video and the above statement will become clean why he is such a nice guy.
Big thanks to Mr. Larry Chen himself for taking the time out of his busy day to fit in the call and interview with me.
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