The mood was one of elation. Writer Jeff Wise, photographer Jonathan Kane and videographer Tim Cothren had just gotten word that they were headed to Hawaii to take a 2014 Escape on an unforgettable three-day journey.
The assignment was for My Ford magazine, and the goal was simple: Go witness the magic of the Big Island and capture it in a way that brings readers face to face with the beauty of an epic Hawaiian road trip.
“When you get a call and they tell you that you’re going to shoot an amazing car driving around the Big Island, you jump on board real quick,” Cothren said. For seasoned journalists like these three guys, this was the kind of journey that offered the opportunity to tell a story about an impressive piece of machinery and enjoy themselves at the same time. Along the way, they swam with dolphins, watched as molten lava spewed into the ocean, and conquered a road whose average grade registered at 25 percent.
“You’ve got all these signs saying ‘FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE ONLY,’ and you’re thinking, ‘Am I 100-percent sure we’re going to make it back up the other side?’” Wise remembers. “Luckily, the Escape was up to it.
“There’s a question you’re always asking with a travel story like this: Is there anything about this car that allows you to experience this place in a way that’s better than if you didn’t have it?” Wise says. “With Hawaii, the Escape turned out to be a perfect fit. It was so versatile that it could handle all those four-wheel-drive sections, but this is a huge island, so it was also nice to not be driving a vehicle that was just optimized for off-road travel.”
The trip wasn’t without its challenges. That steep road in the Waipio Valley wasn’t just difficult to drive; it was a trick to photograph too. “A lot of times you have the luxury of working an angle and taking the time to get something you really like, but in this case there were other cars coming up, and the bend was so narrow that you really had to get out of the way,” Kane said.
For the image-makers, the priority is chasing light. “The first thing we do is get up before the sun; that’s rule number one,” says Cothren. “You love that full-on, warm morning sun to light the car and the background. You know you’re getting great stuff at that time, and you’re running around like a crazy person shooting as much you can. Of course, Jonathan is shooting stills and I’m shooting video, so we do a bit of a dance to get what we need.”
It’s that kind of art that makes it worth it for these storytellers, and it’s one of the big reasons they choose to focus their energy on machines like the new Escape. “I think there’s something childlike about grown-ups who still love machines,” Wise reflects. “A normal person, without a machine, can walk three miles an hour, can go 20 miles in a day, and that’s it. All of a sudden with a machine you can go hundreds of miles in a day, [in an airplane] you can fly up in the sky and pretend you’re a bird, and [in a submarine] you can go to the bottom of the ocean as if you were a fish.”
You can read the story and watch the video that was created at www.myfordmag.com.