When it all ends, what kind of legacy will you leave?

The internet is now connecting people all over the world, but in this same sentence, I will say that it’s sadly also making people more distant in real life.  They are only engaging via likes and comments and connect with people via follows and subscribing. No one is really having a conversation anymore, or at least that’s what it feels like.. But in the case of mine and Jose’s friendship, we’ll go with the former and not the latter. The internet may have connected us, but we built our bond over the years via a BMW chassis platform, the E30.

In 2015, I attended my first Bimmerfest. At the time I was very impressed with the N54 engine that was in my 2007 335i e92 (e92 is the coupe chassis code, e90 for the sedan). BMW was the be-all-end-all for me, so much that I wanted an e30 (the official Bimmer for Portland micro-brew IPA drinking hipsters) as a second car to have a matching one with my best friends at the time. We’re talking Tumblr post quality, with the Frank Ocean tape deck playing over and over again kind of matching!!! But I digress.

During the event, I saw this slammed e30 that caught my eye because it was sitting on ACS style wheels. I wasn’t sure if the wheels were replicas but I instantly fell in love and started snapping photo after photo. At the time, my photography skills were hobbits at best; I would literally take a photo on my Nikon D3100 and post it with the Clarendon Instagram filter.

Till this day, I still credit this photo as one of my “rose to fame” shots, but I’m not actually famous at all. But 48 hours after just posting this photo and with a bunch of e30 & Bimmerfest related hashtags, a friend of @jp_slick tagged him in the comments letting me know it was his car; I certainly felt famous.

We exchanged some words after he asked me for a copy of the photo via email, it was an awesome feeling.  I can remember thinking “wow! My photo looked like hot garage at the time, but someone from the internet cared enough to want it?!!” Immediately I went back and started to sharpen the photo in Lightroom, brought up the shadows a bit, added more clarity, THEN added the same Instagram filter. After sending it to Jose, him and the mentioned Instagram friends over the years, to this day he’s honestly one of my biggest supporters in terms of likes, comment and even Instagram story engagement. Exchanging conversations about life, food, cars, and current living standards due to economic instability from income gaps and random stuff like the owner of a resort in Cancun and the people who actually work there. I liked that our conversations weren’t always about cars.

Fast forward 4 years, and at this point I’d like to think that my photography skills is somewhat.. better? I’m not extremely happy with it because I don’t really own the gear unless I rented it and there are certain things I can’t even see like hues of green and blue (because I’m partially color blind); there’s some touch-up and edits I just can’t fix. However, I’m technically a professional because I do get paid, my pictures have been in print and a couple of major outlets, and some have “reposted” my photos. Someone is gonna rage when they read this as a definition for professional.

In that same time, the E30 that was once stanced out was now a built track focus “hooning” machine, complete with an S50 engine swap. A very common and fairly easy modification that a lot of E30 owners do, or at least TRY to do correctly anyway. The S50 engine was from the E36 M3’s which came out almost a decade after the first E30’s rolled off the assembly line. For the non-technical or card nerd readers out there, imagine a car that is roughly 2,380–2,650 lb but having roughly 280-300HP!!! In terms of power to weight ratios, it’s like if you were to put a screaming motorcycle engine into a scooter.

Before the shoot, I had ask Jose to bring his son, Mateo, because in my mind Jose was like myself and many other car enthusiasts who have hopes of building a car, preserving it and then finally passing it down to our kids. It was also due to this amazing photo that Jose’s wife snapped on her iPhone of Mateo grabbing the M shift knob that is technically a MUST HAVE for all e30 owners.

What started as just a thought, exploded into pure joy as Mateo not only was comfortable with me taking pictures of him.. Little man stole the whole show!!! He legitimately wanted to point out every part of the car, telling me with excitement that he knew this “was the engine” and “this is a steering wheel”. To him this was pretty much a big toy car, and he had no trouble climbing the bucket seats to show you who’s driving the show here.

In terms of content, this gave me more pleasure than almost anything else I had shot before. It sure landed a spot in my top three moments in my “photography career”. Sure it’s not a rare super or hypercar, it may not even be one of the cleanest E30’s in terms of being show quality either. But it represents, to me anyway. Endless hours of hard work that Jose had to put in to get the money to fund this project, THEN having to spend even more hours doing all the wrenching himself, all of this while having to do his part in supporting his family.

Jose actually told me that he was honored I was shooting his car since he didn’t feel like it was up to the quality of cars that I normally shoot, but that was opposite of what I truly felt. I felt so thankful and honored to be able to give a friend of mine an everlasting memory of this moment in time where he and his son bonded over a passion for cars. Instantly after wrapping up the photo shoot (which this man had trailered his car an hour away from where it was at to meet me) and driving back to Northern California, I was overjoyed with the feeling of being appreciated; in the back of my head, I was already thinking of how cool the next shoot would be. What if in 15 years, when Mateo is old enough to drive, we come all come back to do another shoot with the same car? That’s the type of legacy I would want to leave, by making an impact on the car community and being to capture moments like this.