Focus. Flash. Phoenix: Big Red

(Nick Serpa/DD)

Phoenix attracts a lot of artists. The desert backdrop is an excellent canvas for those who find inspiration among all of the dust, cacti and sunlight.

There are artists all over town that reflect these elements. But there are also the people who just want to build giant cars and park them in a dirt lot so kids can climb all over them.

This vehicle has been dubbed “Big Red” by the creators at Walter Productions. While it may resemble something from the Mad Max films, it was actually built on the chassis of a small fire truck from 1959.

This picture was taken at the 2015 Grand Avenue Festival. Here, Phoenix’s most creative and/or eccentric artists showcase their work.

Big Red was a hit with the festival’s younger patrons. They were delighted to pretend to drive the car, rest on the retro bed and climb on top of its frame. I had a mild obsession with cars as a child, and my five-year-old-self would have lost it if I had seen this machine back then!

I really enjoyed the challenge of framing this shot. I wanted as many of the kids in the shot as possible, but I severely underestimated their speed.

Shooting toward the setting sun was difficult, but I didn’t want to lose the car’s subtle glow.

The mood of the image is conveyed largely through the actions and positions of the kids, but the tone also represents the festival’s atmosphere. The whole event was relaxed, but it was also an incredible opportunity for me to be curious, explore and let my inner kid out.

Contact the photographer at

Contact the columnist at