Behind the Fence – Capturing the World of Motorsports Page Two
I read an article here at Sports Car Digest titled: Go Inside the Ropes – Motorsports Photography Workshop, about the f8 Motorsports Workshop and how it’s program would be providing a unique opportunity into the world of motorsports photography. 2013 would be their inaugural year and working with the Historic Motor Sports Association (HMSA), they would offer a series of workshops for aspiring motorsport photographers to have the chance to photograph and learn from working professionals.
I signed up for their workshop in March 2013 at Laguna Seca, during the weekend of the HMSA Spring Club Event. We met up on Friday evening, with the first classroom session introducing us to our instructors – Llew Kinst, Director of Marketing for HMSA, Dennis Gray, Senior Photographer for Sports Car Digest and Jeffrey Dahl, Senior Staff Photographer for Victory Lane Magazine. They shared their extensive experience and techniques in motorsport photography, covering topics such as; equipment, camera settings, capturing motion, handling the camera, shooting in the paddock (pit candy), knowing your way around the race track and most importantly – the safety and etiquette that is required while shooting track side. They also provided their insight on how to become a professional, how to apply for media credentials and how to shoot on assignment. After the session, we were given our press credentials and media vests for the race weekend.
We spent Saturday and Sunday shooting in the paddock area, the pits and the track. The 6:1 student to instructor ratio gave each one of us a good amount of one-on-one time with our respective instructors. Most of the group had a good level of experience in photography and motorsports, which made the transition from classroom to race track very smooth for all of us.
Now, I must admit it was very exciting going through the access gate in the fence and onto the track with my vest and credentials. The experience of being credentialed and trackside when the first cars started coming thought the hairpin, letting out the first bursts from my Canon was exciting! I let the experience sink in after that first pass, and then I began to focus on capturing the cars racing by. We spent the rest of the weekend shooting throughout most of the track and in the paddock and pit area with exclusive access to pit entrance – the inside of turn 11. This was, for me, the key part of the weekend as I was able to put into practice all of the experience I had as a photographer, my extensive knowledge of Laguna Seca, what I had learned during the past two days of the f8 workshop and walking the track to all the different vantage points from which to capture the race cars. I was practicing what I knew and what I had just learned. To say that it was a great weekend of motorsport photography is an understatement!