Q. Where did you learn photography?
I have never once taken a photography class or course. I am completely self taught through the school of trial and error and learning from my mistakes. I spent an amazing 4 days at the Rich Clarkson's Sports Photography workshop in Colorado Springs in 2010, but that workshop is as much as I've ever done with photography "education."
Q. How did you become a motorsport photographer?
I've ALWAYS loved motorsport. I would look at every page of F1 Racing Magazine growing up, but I rarely read the articles. I would instead feverishly flip through looking at the stunning photos from top motorsport photographers. In 2008, I was given a DSLR for my 21st birthday, and quickly took to taking photos of my college swimming events, and some of the horse races I was riding in (I was an apprentice steeplechase jockey for 7 years). I soon started getting paid to cover other horse races, and even some bigger events like the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup. Eventually horse racing transitioned to covering low level dirt track races in Kentucky & North Carolina, karting, track days at various places and attending lots of races as a fan. All of that eventually turned into covering professional car races for smaller clients and a little money, which blossomed into the career I have today. I became a full time photographer (i.e. no other form of income) in 2014.
Q. Which was your first professional car race you covered?
My first race was Kimi Raikkonen's 2011 NASCAR Truck race debut at Charlotte Motorspeedway! I "cold called" an agency in England and asked if they wanted someone to cover it, and they said "SURE!" I got a few hundred dollars and a foot in the door to two world's I had always dreamed of being in: motorsport and more specifically, Formula 1.
Q. How can I become a motorsport photographer and shoot all the big races you do?
Start small. Shoot ANYTHING that moves. It will all help you learn. Building a portfolio doesn't happen at the top by covering F1, WEC, IMSA or Indycar. It happens with YEARS and YEARS of experience covering everything else. Access to smaller events is less restricted, versus access to the bigger world class events is VERY limited. Press credentials to cover races are given only to working members of the media, and not to fans just looking to be closer to the action. Start with those small races, and track days to build a stunning portfolio, but most importantly, learn to build your network of people you know, and you'll quickly find that doors open to other events, and eventually if you're good enough, the big events too.
Q. What do you carry in your camera bag?
I carry all my equipment in a TENBA rolling camera bag. It goes around the world with me in airplanes, rental cars, trains, boats....everywhere. Inside of it, I have two Nikon D5's, a 500mm f4 VR, Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR, Nikon 24-70 f2.8, Nikon 14-24mm f2.8, Nikon 24mm f1.4, Nikon 35mm, f1.4 Nikon 85mm f1.8, a SIGMA 135mm f1.8 and a wallet full of LEXAR XQD memory cards.
Q. Do I need a press credential to take pretty photos?
NO! Most professional racing photographers spend a good part of our day at a race shooting from general admission areas. Most tracks in the United States, and a good bunch in Europe are so fan accessible that you don't need credentials to make the same images I can with credentials. Not having press access makes you work harder for nice pictures, so learn to be creative! Tell us a story using your photos! But do not use the fact that you don't have credentials as an excuse for not shooting or trying to make something of it. Most of the professional motorsport photographers I know and work with, including myself, started simply as racing fans with cameras.
Q. What has been your favorite race to cover?
Le Mans. The atmosphere. The race. The cars. The track. It is all so challenging and so special. I'm so thankful to have covered Le Mans several times in my short career, and to have been once as a fan in 2012. It will forever hold a special place in my heart. Monaco is a close second. Having F1 cars whizzing by that close is one of the coolest things you can ever experience. The manic atmosphere of the Macau GP is fun too. The track is wild.
Q. How many races have you covered in your career?
Too many to count. Several hundred. They are all special, unique and memorable in some way though.
Q. Why do you post so much to social media?
Professional photography is my business. My sole way of earning an income, and social media, is FREE ADVERTISING and is a fun way to share my images! I enjoy following my friends, getting inspiration from them and seeing what they're up to. Social media allows me to build a brand that helps me to make a living. Simple as that.
Q. How can I grow my social media following?
If you're going to be a motorsport photographer, be a motorsport photographer. If you're going to be a food photographer, be a food photographer. If you're going to be a landscape photographer, be a landscape photographer. Don't mix those photos in with photos of your cat, or third cousin's second birthday, or a boring family trip to Myrtle Beach. Set up a personal account for those images. Instagram and social media is the new portfolio. Blow us away.
Q. Can I intern for you? Or just carry your camera bag?
As much as I'd like to say yes, I do not have the need or ability to take on interns. If you are wanting to learn more about photography, the best way to learn is by doing. Go to as many races as you can as a fan, enjoy it, but shoot it like you want to be there working it.