Have you ever wondered what the life of a motorsport photographer is like?

To make this quick, let's disregard the time you spend marketing, sending emails, finding the next client, keeping up with current & past clients, and the general "office" work that is required of any self employed person.  Instead, let's jump right to the race track.

A typical race event for me is 3-4 days long with some stretching to 5-7 days.  Every day starts before sunrise & almost always ends well past sunset.  We're talking somewhere in the range of 14-20hrs by the time you get back home/hotel, unpack for the day, upload images to computer, pick out the best of the day photos & hopefully at some point take a shower.  Then, it starts all over again the next morning after only a few hours of sleep.  Why so early you ask?  Well, there are a few answers to that.

  1. The available light in the early hours isn't harsh like mid-afternoon, which makes for pleasing images without much post processing.
  2. Many events have a full schedule and get started as early as possible in order to fit everything in.
  3. Plus, depending on where you're staying relative to the track, you most likely will have to deal with some sort of morning rush hour traffic.  The earlier you hit the road, the fewer brake lights you will have to stare at.

So what exactly do I do throughout the day you ask?  I'll break it down for you...

After arriving at the track & finding a parking spot, I gather my gear which consists of a Temba rolling bag & ThinkTank belt system.  The bag carries my large items such as a laptop, 2 cameras, multiple lenses, batteries, chargers, misc charging cords, etc.  The belt system is used to carry most of those items while I'm out on track.  Each lens has it's own protective bag attached to the belt which keeps everything in a safe spot & allows quick access for changing focal lengths.  There is also a bag which contains things like batteries, memory cards, cell phone, etc.

While covering the practice, qualifying and race sessions, photographers have a few options as to how they navigate around the many turns of a track.

  1. You can walk...which many do.
  2. You can hitch a ride in 1 of the media shuttle vans.
  3. Rent a golf cart from the on site company.
  4. Bring your own electric or gas powered scooter.

Now depending on who you're shooting for at the event, your time spent on the track could be just a few minutes or nearly the entire day.  If shooting for a private client that requests certain images, you basically go out to this turn or that turn, grab your shots for the client & then head back to the media center.  There you can quickly upload, edit and deliver the photos to your client almost instantly.  If you're shooting for a broader client that isn't requesting specific shots, then you'll probably end up spending more time on track.  Typically shooting each session in it's entirety & waiting til later to upload & edit.  Private clients are nice because you spend less time in the heat, carrying heavy gear & more time meeting your client's expectations & moving on to the next one.