What happens when the WSJ + Mercedes comes to shoot your car. (and, um… it breaks down)

It was all supposed to be so simple. Meet up at home in Chicago, shoot a little photo story driving up to camp on a fall day, taking pictures along the way. 

Then this happened.

4 lanes of deadlock traffic. Middle lane. Rush hour on a friday. Eardrum piercing screeching. Smoke. More smoke.  Angry commuters waving at us (or was that a finger?)

(Keep in mind this car is as old as me – and thats OLD. Which means you don’t use the AC.

(I guess that’s what we get when you get a car for @ $2500.00). David recalls this incident as “she just needed a rest.” (After all, she did just have a brake job the day before – and Chicago rush hour traffic to Wisco was more than her pads could handle). By the grace of all things holy, we made it off the highway & rolled into a station. From there, realized how close we were to SuperDawg – and decided to pitstop there to let her cool down & recuperate.  Several dogs & a solid hour later, we took a deep breath, said a prayer, and continued the trek north to camp. The car issues would not have been anything out of the ordinary for us given our love for rescuing old things – except this time there was a fancy & slightly intimidating (but sweet & understanding) NYC fashion photographer following us in a super fancy brand spankin’ new ‘cedes, shooting a story for Wall Street Journal / Mercedes “View Finder” series. When they asked us if they could shoot this little photo essay, I don’t think that they knew that our Mercedes was actually a near-abandoned garage find. We got her for less than some folks pay for their bicycle. She smokes (a lot). Rattles a bit. Things with strange names that are impossible to find at the parts store fall off on a regular basis. She’s been called – among other things- ‘Chitty’ (for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). All said, we’re just not ready to trade her in yet. We’ve still got some ground to cover- and although she’s (more than a little) rough around the edges, we still love her, warts and all. She may not turn heads that way she did 40 years ago- but on a good day, with a long stretch of country road and full tank of gas, she can still hold her own up over 100mph. And that’s good enough for us (as long as we keep AAA paid up)


About View Finders: “A sculptor who employs his artistic talents to run a boutique hotel; a sneaker designer who takes his wares from blueprint to performance; a premium watchmaker who still adds a handmade touch. These are the kinds of cutting-edge craftsman creating luxury in today’s America. To bring them to you, we sent renowned photographer Ryan Plett—an entrepreneur in his own right—on the road in a 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Through his images and words, Plett will capture stories of our country’s greatest innovators and craftspeople here on ViewFinders, presented by WSJ. Custom Studios and Mercedes-Benz.”

 the story in Wall Street Journal’s “View Finders” Series.

A few excerpts:

Culture on the Lake: A Boutique Retreat Where Creatives Connect

Before visiting the Camp Wandawega resort in Elkhorn, Wis., husband-and-wife proprietors David Hernandez and Tereasa Surratt insist you review their “Manifesto of Low Expectations.” Says the cheeky guide, “We are not for the meek, the squeamish or any other synonym for folks who don’t like roughing it.”  

But for those who can forgo air-conditioning and are comfortable sharing their shower with toads, Wandawega is a revelation: a lakeside camp completely adorned with vintage furnishings and curios from the 1920s through the 1960s. The place has hosted its share of celebrities, artists, chefs and tech-industry leaders.”

  “When Dave and I started dating, he brought me out here and it was in a pretty sad state. Buying and rehabbing Wandawega has given us the opportunity to provide cultural and creative retreats for not-for-profits and charities—50% of the retreats we do pro bono. That’s been the biggest reward”

“We run small. It’s really just David and me and our part-time property manager. So when folks come, we’re the ones kicking back with them, having a beer on the patio. We couldn’t imagine ever being some proper, fancy hotel”

We always talk about letting people reconnect by disconnecting. We get so many people who are online all day. And they are so looking forward to that deep exhale that comes from sitting in an Adirondack chair at the edge of the lake and leaving the real world behind.”

(a few screen grabs from the online slideshow) 


starting with: the car that runs. and the one that doesn’t. (our salvaged baby)

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 6.54.43 AMScreen Shot 2014-09-17 at 6.54.30 AM


Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 6.54.17 AM

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 6.54.09 AM


ryan photoScreen Shot 2014-09-17 at 6.54.50 AM Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 6.54.56 AM Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 6.55.03 AM  Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 6.55.19 AMScreen Shot 2014-09-17 at 7.12.59 AMScreen Shot 2014-09-17 at 6.53.58 AM

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 7.13.42 AM