Monterey Car Week Cometh

It is that time of year again, with the rumble of engines and smell of race fuel filling the air,  the automotive extravaganza known as Monterey Car Week is almost here. I will not be attending the various racing and vintage car show events this year, but I am honouring the occasion with the release of some of my favourite automobilia images from over the years. Find more Monterey Car Week photographs in my archives, with work spanning a decade of races and Concours shows; with both prints and licensing available.

Looking for some artful Automotive Abstract images? I have curated a collection highlighting the details of a wide range of cars, from vintage Porsches and Ferraris to unique hot rods and restoration projects.

My automotive photography archives cover historic and reunion races, street car shows, and both the Pebble Beach and Carmel Concours events; if there is a particular car you are looking for, please contact me with the details and I will do my best to see if it is included in my library.

Are you lucky enough to be attending Monterey Car Week this year? Here is my post from last year, highlighting some of the most accessible events of the season, including tips on where to catch some remarkable free shows and photographic opportunities: A Photographer’s Guide to Car Week in Monterey, California

The complete APK Photography Automobilia Archives are full of unique and interesting car culture photos. It has been a pleasure to explore  and photograph the world of rare and notable automobiles, and I am looking forward to returning to celebrate Monterey Car Week again in the coming years.

Christmas, Historic Adobes | Monterey, California

Along with the Harbor Holiday Light Parade, Monterey, California has a particularly unique and charming December tradition – a walking nighttime tour of the historic adobe buildings scattered throughout downtown. One rainy night I joined a few friends to explore the lovely homes and government buildings that are lovingly restored and maintained as striking architectural reminders of the not-so-distant past of California.

Many of these historic sites include lovely gardens, and as we walked toward each stop on the self-guided tour, we were greeted by the glow of lights in the trees and the traditional painted angels that decorate the city of Monterey during the winter holiday season.

Each adobe had a slightly different story and seasonal decorations, often with a mix of old and new on display. Creaking wooden floors and subdued warm light lent each space a cozy sense of stepping back in time.

At the historic Custom House, dating back to around 1827, live music and dancing filled the main room. A Mexican flag on display pays respect to the role of this particular adobe building as the primary port of entry on the Alta California coast before the territory was claimed by the United States in 1846.

At a smaller building which holds the distinction of being California’s first theater, we were greeted by a musician on the front porch, and a decorated tavern space inside. The main portion of the theater, including the stage, has sadly fallen into disrepair and was not accessible. In the spring, the theater garden is one of my favorite secret spots in downtown Monterey.

Live music was a highlight of the evening, performed by volunteers at nearly every location. Even though some of the points of interest were a few blocks apart, it seemed that the holiday cheer filled the rainy streets in every direction, as we had only to follow the sounds of musicians and carollers to reach the next adobe.

City Hall was a bustling center of activity, with locals chatting on the steps and enjoying the decorated trees indoors and out. This building is still functional at the heart of the city, hosting several municipal offices and providing Monterey residents with a scenic park for casual gatherings.

Some of the larger adobes offered sweet holiday treats, cookies and cider, and at the historic building known as the Stevenson House (after Robert Louis Stevenson who lived there for a few months) a cheerful bagpiper roamed the rooms full of artifacts and notable art.

I had lived many years in Monterey before I took part in this lovely holiday tradition, and it was a memory I will treasure. The warmth and hospitality of Monterey and Californians in general was embodied in the welcoming cheer of these historic adobes.

The tour ticket fee benefits the California State Parks and their maintenance of the buildings, and I would highly recommend it to locals and visitors alike. For information and tickets, please visit the California State Parks website – Christmas in the Adobes.

To see the full set of my images from this magical holiday night, please visit the APK Photography Christmas in the Adobes gallery

A Photographer’s Guide to Car Week in Monterey, California

Ah, car week. Revving engines, gleaming chrome, throngs of automotive aficionados, and a complete range of events packed into every day, from pricey and exclusive gatherings to public downtown cruises, all offering plenty of photographic fun. Where are the best value photo-opportunities? What events are also just plain fun to experience? What kind of gear is best?

(Regarding gear: These three shots are from a Samsung Galaxy S5 – ye olde phone camera – the best gear is ALWAYS the camera you have with you. If you are packing an SLR kit, a wider-angle lens will work well at most of the more intimate events I note below, while a zoom or telephoto lens is an excellent tool for capturing races at the track.)

After living in the Monterey, California area for 14 years, I’ve seen nearly every car week event at least once, and I’ve learned a lot about photographing the larger scenes and delightful details of this car culture cacophony. Getting a traditional clean-shot of a car with no distractions in the background is tricky at nearly every event, and my single biggest piece of advice is to get comfortable with what the environment offers; as you’ll see in the photos below, the light during car week in Monterey is likely to range from overcast skies with diffuse daylight, to bright midday sun, to dusky dark urban street scenes, all packed with moving crowds of spectators. Be patient, be polite, and experiment with the added visual interest of the events themselves.

If you can afford to splurge on tickets and access to the headlining events, such as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, by all means, enjoy the show. For a free look at the same cars with the bonus of seeing them in motion, catch the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance which winds its way through several cities and scenic roads of Monterey County.

For a gorgeous and competitive spread of fine automobiles, a free-to-the-public option is the Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours on the Avenue, which allows attendees to get up close to the cars, speak with the owners, and watch the awards ceremony all in the quaint downtown setting of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The crowds can be thick at this event, and patience is key.

If homegrown hot-rods and the latest supercars are more your speed, Exotics on the Row is an accessible and fun event, held in the evening on Cannery Row. This gathering offers low-light photography enthusiasts a scene rich with glowing headlights and colorful Monterey nightlife, all free and walkable.

Around town, there will be an endless parade of interesting cars passing on the street, and adjacent to any event center or hotel hosting a car week auction, simply watching some of the rarest cars in the world get unloaded from transport trucks for their big moment can be a great photo-op. These shots are best found in the lead-up to the main week of events, or during the week following.

Finally, what has always proven to be a photographic goldmine, packed with unusual, interesting, and amazing cars with the added bonus of seeing many of them race around one of the most dynamic tracks in the world, is the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion.

Laguna Seca classic car races
Vintage and classic cars ready to race at Laguna Seca racetrack in Monterey, California during the annual Reunion events of car week.

This is the event I’ve attended the most, and no matter which day one chooses to attend, a stroll around the paddock will provide even the most casual automotive photography enthusiast with plenty of colourful race activity and historic racecars.

Owners and drivers are happy to talk about their beloved vehicles and nothing beats a shot or two of the infamous Laguna Seca Corkscrew full of rumbling vintage cars barreling toward the finish line. Again, be patient, the paddock can be full of people taking it all in, and the most rewarding shots can come after waiting for a crowd to pass.

Over the years I’ve accumulated an extensive library of Car Week photography, all of which can be found in the Automobilia section of I will be cruising many of these events again this year, hoping to see some familiar automotive friends and new exciting cars.

I post frequently to Instagram during the week, please follow @photoapk for more inside angles on this amazing time of year in Monterey, and feel free to leave a comment if you’ve got any questions or advice to share.

Monterey Car Week 2015 | The Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours on the Avenue

It is an August ritual, the gleaming chrome, rumbling engines, shifting gears and crowds of automotive aficionados, all converging to transform Monterey, California into a car collector’s paradise.  From vintage automobile races to open-air shows, there are endless opportunities to see examples of fine historic vehicles and rare luxury supercars up close and in beautiful detail.  For more classic car photography and racing photography from Monterey Car Week, please visit the APK Photography Automobilia Archives.

I have been photographing automotive events for nearly as long as I have lived in Monterey, and it is truly remarkable to see the variety of cars and the passion of the owners and fans.  From a shooting perspective, these celebrations of automotive engineering and history are always well-attended, meaning that I have no choice but to work with the crowd and explore new angles from which to capture both the details and the larger feel of any given event.  Lately, I have become even more interested in capturing the interaction of the people and the cars, resulting in moments like the shot below.


Of course, there is always the simple and deeply satisfying fun of moving in closer for those more finely tuned abstract and detail images, with the added challenge of highly-variable light/shadow intensities on shiny surfaces…

Visit my online print shop to purchase these images as fine art automotive prints, or to inquire about editorial licensing, please visit my Automobilia Photography Archives

Additional images from the 2015 Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours on the Avenue here.

Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion

Roaring engines, rare hand-polished chrome curves, and an enduring love of engineering and racing are all on display at the 2013 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. The paddock and racetrack at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca become an open-air museum, where the vintage cars on display are also put through their paces on the track. Seeing classic automobiles jostle for position as they speed down the notorious corkscrew set of turns is a thrill that audiences of all ages enjoy. I personally find some of the details of these hand-built classic cars particularly interesting, as they represent eras of creativity and innovation that are the foundation for the familiar modern designs of today. This event is just one of many held in Monterey California this time of year, featuring fine automotive design that can be enjoyed both up-close in full detail and as a moving show of motorsports history. See the full set of 2013 Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion photographs here!