I have a passion for motor sports photography and there is nothing better than spending a day at a race circuit with a camera taking action photos of racing cars and motorcycles. Many people don’t seem to appreciate the variety of photos you can capture at a race meeting. Yep, there are loads of different types of shot but not all of them will sell and make money.
When I go to the race circuit with my camera I only focus on the money making photos, and as such there are many things I don’t bother taking photos of these days, including:-
The starting grid
Unless you can get right in the middle of the action on the starting gird, i.e. right up close and personal among the racing cars or motorcycles, I don’t think it is worth taking photos of the starting grid.
I have seen many photos of starting grids taken from a long way off using a super zoom lens and they are just pointless. Start line and grid photos taken from a distance don’t show the tension, the anticipation and the adrenaline, and the only waY to capture this is to be in the thick of it. If you can get on the start grid you can capture photos of the drivers behind the wheel mentally preparing for the race ahead, you can capture the mechanics rushing around making the last minute adjustments, you can capture motorcyclists stretching before mounting their sports bikes, you can capture photos of motorcyclists putting their helmets on etc. etc.
Using a super zoom lens the start grid looks nothing more than a car park of nice looking cars or motorbikes liveried up, which in all honesty is pretty un-interesting.
Grid girls and brolly dollies
I understand that motor sports should be glitzy, glamorous and sexy so I totally get the whole lycra clad brolly dollies and grid girls but I can’t see the point in taking photos of them because you won’t make any money from them.
I haven’t always thought like this and when I first started out trying to make money with motor sports photography I used to take a photo of every brolly dolly on the grid of every single race. All of the photos I submitted to various print on demand websites, and they are still on there, and I can honestly say I haven’t sold a copy of a single one of them. Not one.
Motorsports fans and people who buy motor sports prints, posters and cards don’t want photos of lycra clad beauties holding umbrellas or advertising boards they want photos of cars screeching around corners, motorcycles wheeling over the finish line, cars locking all four wheels as they slide in to hairpins and motorcyclists reaching extreme lean angles. These are the sort of photos that sell and these are the ones I focus on when I go to the race circuit. Sure, the brolly dollies look good but no-one wants prints of them.
The sighting lap
Whenever I am out track side to bag a few motor sports photos it never ceases to amaze me how many camera shutters I hear firing off during the sighting lap. The sighting lap is the most boring lap and comprises the drivers and riders getting from the pit lane to line up on the starting grid, and nothing ever happens on it. On the sighting lap the racing drivers and riders don’t do anything dangerous, anything risky or anything interesting at all. You may get a wave or an accidental wheelie but that’s it.
The only thing the sighting lap does is give you the opportunity to bag a tack sharp photo of your favorite racing driver or rider, but it’s going to be a boring one.
It seems that whenever there is a crash everyone with a camera wants to get a few pictures of it, which I think is pretty terrible. At the end of the day you’re there to take photos of the racing action and not of the crashes. I really don’t get the whole “Got to take a picture of a crash” mentality, and it doesn’t matter whether it is two racing cars having a coming together or a motorcyclist having a high side.
I don’t take photos of crashes, especially of motorcyclists and if I see a rider fall or go down I instantly stop snapping. At the end of the day you could potentially be taking photos of someone’s death, and that’s not something I want to have photos of. Even if the rider ends up walking away seemingly unhurt (I say seemingly because all motorbike spills hurt) I still refuse to take photos of the dented bike, the marshals running around, the carnage or the rider walking away looking p***d off.
What really sickens me about motor racing crashes is the amount of people who may miss the actual crash but will photograph the rider laying on the ground, the medics attending the rider, the marshals recovering the motorcycle etc. These kind of photos are awful and if a rider is down you should immediately put the camera down.
The race is where the action is, and also where you are going to bag your top selling motor sports shots, and because of this you should concentrate more on this than anything else. The celebration lap is another opportunity to grab some commercial shots and some of my top sellers have been motorcycles pulling celebration wheelies, doing donuts and also smoking burnouts during the celebration laps.
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.