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Motorsports photography

Discussion in 'General' started by ZimZam, May 16, 2019.

  1. ZimZam

    ZimZam Well-Known Member

    My daughter's bf is very much into shooting cars at the moment. Any advice on how to break in to the field of mc racing. They live in Chicago. I've seen his work. He's talented and hardworking. He realizes that no one starts out shooting Formula 1. Graz.
  2. Motofun352

    Motofun352 Well-Known Member

    Check with local track day orgs. Good way to get some experience and make some bucks while he's at it. Will need some computer skills to organize and distribute.
    ZimZam likes this.
  3. Steeltoe

    Steeltoe What's my move?

    Can't tell you how many times the photog at a trackday doesn't show or has some act of god problem. Unreliable bunch for the most part. He could probably show up and strike a deal.
    ZimZam likes this.

    MELK-MAN The Dude abides...

    Stress to him that unless he want's his work "borrowed" for free, he will want to put big watermarks on his images. I suggest "If you can read this.. the douche bag stole this photo" ..
  5. Big T

    Big T Well-Known Member

    Have him try at flat track races
    If he can properly capture small, fast moving bikes, he'll have the skills to move up to bigger series

    And, have him check with the various series to get credentials. Access is everything
  6. Woofentino Pugr

    Woofentino Pugr Well-Known Member

    Most tracks have their own rules for professional photography. For example Blackhawk Farms rules on professional photography. You have to register with the track and pay a vendor fee (think its $150 or $175). Dunno if you still have to take a "photographers safety course" before they let you shoot from the track side of the spectator fence. You still can be told to move by any track worker who thinks you are in a dangerous spot (best to ask the cornerworkers if you are unsure if where you want to go is a safe place). Guy that's been doing it the last 2-3 yrs (when he does show up) has a printer right in the pavilion to print photos out. Also its possible that a trackday org has their own photographers and wont allow competitors shoot. That you would have to find out before driving 1.5hrs one way (or more if he goes elsewhere). Road America is pretty strict on pro photographers.

    At Blackhawk when I was driving crash truck for CCS, I've had to tell photographers to move out of certain spots. A couple of them also got kicked a couple out for repeated safety complaints.

    Most the ones who come out to try to sell photos don't last long.

    And +1000000 to Melka. Watermark the hell out of it. Newsshooter here I'm pretty sure does track photography to sell. He can probably give more advise.

    If he wants to venture out to Blackhawk Farms Raceway this weekend. CCS race weekend. 78 lap ASRA Team Challenge sat, CCS races sunday. Bring rain gear, more than likely gonna be wet. I may or may not go if sunday is gonna be storms all day.
  7. drop

    drop Well-Known Member

    129photos.com hasn't missed an stt trackday in almost 7 years now.
  8. Tortuga

    Tortuga Well-Known Member

    Most photogs at the track, any track, are free-lancing. They get the shots and then try to sell them to magazines, teams, fans, etc. Some may have a "deal" with a particular magazine or team, but it is extremely competitive and very few make anywhere close to a living at it despite shooting at every event they can manage plus weddings, etc.
    Most tracks or race orgs require a fee or pass or whatever to gain access and those can sometimes be spendy. He'll also need serious gear, big glass, fast bodies, and the ability to get the pix out fast, like right now fast.
    I suggest starting out as a hobby and talk to the pro guys he meets (some will be complete dick-heads, cause frustrated artists), put together a body of work and go from there.
    code3ryder likes this.
  9. black knight

    black knight Well-Known Member

    Mike LaPutt out in Vegas does a good job. He has been at it as a part time gig for like 15 years. Started out as a fan and then slowly turned it into a business. At first it was just to buy better lenses and equipment, but after a while he got a real actual thriving business from doing it. He does dedicate himself to it, shows up early- walks and talks to everybody in the pits and is a likeable guy. Plus he shoots some good images. his website is http://www.trackday.net/ and if you reach out to him chances are he'll actually give you some tips on how to get started. He is in Vegas and works the west coast events a little bit, so where you are located would not be competing with him. Plus he's just a nice guy, very personable. At any rate, good place to start. I'm also a photo bug - but have never gone to the track as I kind of got into photography after my racing ended. But I did 'like' or follow both Brian Nelson and Andrew Wheeler on FB. They both post up some pretty cool stuff and Andrew will even run some 'special edition' prints of Rossi and the like right off of his FB page. They might also lend an ear if you were to ask.
  10. code3ryder

    code3ryder Well-Known Member

    As others have noted, the need to "hustle" is real. One option is to try and get in with a seasoned shooter as a second shooter.
  11. No sh$t. Huge peeve of mine, not to mention it’s just a douche thing to do. Photogs out there in the hot sun all day and some a hole won’t pay the $20 for a pic.
  12. There are a few out there that are really professional like 129, Brian J, etc. Others it’s a hobby and some days don’t want to do that hobby. For a TD person, their photos are a huge part of the “experience” and it really f’s up when photographers don’t show.
  13. worthless

    worthless Well-Known Member

    It's one thing to simply take nice clear shots of bikes on the track. It will take some time around the sport to understand what he's looking at and what to look for. It will have to start off as something like a hobby until he is able to prove that he's able to capture the right shots.
    He'll also have to decide what he plans to do with it. Is this going to be an extension of a hobby or part of his livelyhood? If he wants to do it professionally, he'll have to decide if he wants to simply take shots to sell to the riders during track days/club races or if he wants to go to the national/international level and try to sell his work to print/online entities.
    I equate it to other sports. Many can do it, but, it's a select few that can get paid for it and even fewer that can make a good living on it. Sounds like a grind and longshot, but, I wish him the best.
    code3ryder likes this.
  14. Circacee

    Circacee Well-Known Member

    Have him checkout @Caliphotovideo on Instagram. They`re our local photographer in CA and do amazing work.
  15. Mongo

    Mongo Administrator

    Blackhawk is by far the exception not the rule but it is good info as it's closest to him. Most of the time he'll just need to talk to the people renting the track and they should know more. Some tracks have exclusives but luckily those are rare as well.
    ZimZam likes this.
  16. drop

    drop Well-Known Member

    At a trackday it's 50bucks for the full day, any photo that you can be seen in. Don't matter if youre 50 foot behind. You could get up to 30-40 pics. Worth every dime.
  17. backcountryme

    backcountryme Word to your mother.

    If he is in Chicago then he is sitting in the middle of racing heaven. There are a ton of dirt tracks from Wisconsin to Indiana. Tell him to get out to as many as he can. It doesn’t matter if he is taking photos of motorcycles or street stocks. All of it will hone his skills. There are tons of tracks that race weekly within a few hour radius of Chicago. Not sure what he is shooting with, but some reasonably fast glass is needed for nighttime racing photos.
  18. Woofentino Pugr

    Woofentino Pugr Well-Known Member

    Just for the love of God, don't take the photos at an obscene angle so the bikes are looking like they are going uphill every time.:confused:

    I've found shooting in snow can be a serious pita. White balance can be hit or miss.

    worthless likes this.
  19. Hoffman900

    Hoffman900 Well-Known Member

    I think it depends what kind of photographer he wants to be too. Does he want to be a “bird watcher” type, out there that set up on a corner and just click off high shutter speed shots of every bike. There is a market for that, especially with the track day crowd. Or does he want to be like a Darren Heath or a Rainer Schlegilmilch (the real og) with artsy slow shutter pans, moody shots, etc. There are plenty of the former, but the latter takes artistic vision,l. The former does have an easier time making money at it, however.

    That said there is a big difference between doing it and doing it as a career. I think about my real job and what my take home is vs. what my hourly rate is (which pays a portion of my health care, retirement, etc).

    Like racers, very few are making a full time living at motor sports photography. Usually it’s at best a break even enterprise, and you have some sort of real hustle that pays the bills. Go on Brian J’s site and you see he does more than just motorcycles in the in between, and he’s one who I’d say is making a living at it.

    I usually slowly feed my stuff out on my IG @rjadamsphoto . Been shooting a bunch of film this year too, which has its own aesthetic. Trying to work on a website when I get some time where I’ll put up my work.
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
    code3ryder likes this.

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