The threat of danger rears its head on every corner and straightaway of a racetrack. The bravest and most badass humans put themselves in harm's way week after week, race after race. They live in the rush of being face-to-face with terminal velocity and eternalizing things like the perfect pass. Race Car drivers? Naw bro.... we're talking about motorsports photographers. Full stop.
Let me explain. How do you capture the essence of a speeding bullet? While it's speeding... towards you? While also capturing the sexy aerodynamic curves of the car at the most perfect angle at the perfect time? It takes massive amounts of raw talent, intuition, and absolutely includes (at these incredible speeds) a steady hand, a keen eye, and "balls the size of church bells".
Most racetracks have "photo holes" cut out of fences or walls that allow photographers to "get their shot", which is likely a very similar perspective to everyone else's shot. However, there are other racetracks, like Road America that still allow photographers full access opportunities to shoot along the entire track AT and ABOVE the racetrack safety walls, where they operate with "head on a swivel" awareness. It is a treat for them and they treat those open track opportunities with the utmost respect and professionalism. It is a rare opportunity and I must admit, it makes for the most incredible photos.
It's become very apparent to me that those who are so passionate about the things that they love are able to bring those things to life like no other person can. And, while some motorsports photographers do get paid, I have found that most of them would absolutely do it for free.
I asked @theincredibletruestory.jpeg Jules Quimbo, www.julesquimbo.com how he started down the path of motorsports photography and he broke it down simply: "I'm a car guy, I always have been". He loves being so close to the raw power of it all and it shows in his work. In his own words, he is "capturing emotions, one motorsport at a time" @theincredibletruestory.jpeg (instagram). The passion part of it can't be taught. However, the tricks of the trade can be, and those are the kinds of things that Jules has started teaching his own brother Jay who is a self declared hobbyist (so far) in the world of motorsports photography.
It just isn't as easy as point and shoot. Brian Hart, @brianhart shooting Vintage Indy photographer explained to me that in order to allow the cars to come to life, you are working in split seconds (1/8 of seconds to be exact) in conjunction with precise body movements. Precise camera angle, paired with a firm elbows in stance and a time tested hip pivot is his formula for success. A motorsports photographer is absolutely at one with their equipment. This he conveyed to me while we were talking together on corner 14, while he was shooting over the ever so short concrete "wall" that separated the two of us from 200+ mph / 500+hp of raw, beautiful, man-made power. Dangerous, yes. Wildly exciting, HELL YES. Brian's love for photography includes all kinds of subject matter, spanning a lifetime behind the lens (including celebrities, athletes and birds found in nature), but he explained that there is nothing like shooting race cars. "I'm definitely a car guy," Brian shared with me. (I see a pattern forming here, and I totally get it).
My burning question to each of these talented men:
*Hardest part about being a motorsports photographer?
Jules: Most people starting out wouldn't know how hard it is to line up a perfect shot. They usually just go for the most predictable scenario. You really need to know how to follow the car, to "lead the target".
Brian: Framing the perfect shot is the hardest, getting those wheels turning and getting a sharp shot, that's how the cars "come to life".
Sports photographers are awesome. Motorsports photographers are walking talking bad asses.