Motorsports, and circuit racing in particular, really shouldn’t be that difficult to photograph. I mean, the cars, motorbikes or whatever is racing all go around the same way from the same direction, they all occupy the same small space, it is easy to see and hear the vehicles coming. Thinking about it, all you need to do is set yourself in position, set the camera in position, dial in the settings and start snapping away. This all makes sense, so why is motor sport photography so damn hard?!?
Thinking about it getting a photo of, let’s say a motorcycle for example, isn’t too difficult. I mean set a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the action, open the aperture to get tack sharp subject and blur the background as much as possible and then adjust the ISO to get the correct exposure. Set the camera in burst mode, continuous tracking mode (I also set a back button focus) and then follow the bikes and press the shutter button (and keep it pressed to fire off multiple shots) as the bikes go past. This is all well and good, but this is what everyone does.
One of my biggest issues with motor sports photography is that I have no control over the composition. The bikes and the riders approach the same corners on the same racing line, at the same speed and in the same pose, and this is the same lap after lap after lap. Sometimes a bike strays of the racing line, however it is never enough to get a shot with a different perspective.
Another issue I have with motor sports photography is the restricted access. I can only get so close to the track side (because of health and safety reasons as well as public liability insurance reasons) so I am restricted to what my zoom lens can do. There are times when I would love to get lower than the bikes and point the camera upwards (i.e. a worm’s eye view) but this can’t happen. There are also times when I would like to get higher above the bikes and take a photo with the camera pointing down (i.e. a bird’s eye view) but this also can’t happen. I have all these ideas in my head and images in my mind’s eye, but there is nothing I can do about it.
One final issue I have with motor sports photography is the amount of sponsorship and advertising boards. These boards are everywhere, on the crash barriers, planted in to the grassy areas, on the apex of the corners……. The damn things are everywhere and it is virtually impossible to get a shot of a motorbike (or car) without one of those damn advertising boards in it. I know many people will simply say “just clone them out” but the location of them, the size of them and the position of them in relation to the subject often makes this impossible to achieve. It is very frustrating.
If you want to make money with your camera, and let’s face it most of us do (if only to treat ourselves to some more photography equipment), motor sports photography is not the way to go about it. Sure, you may sell a few random motor sports photos but you will struggle to sell enough prints to make a living out of it, unless you are exceptionally lucky that is.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.