I’ve never understood photographers. And I’ve certainly never understood the big photo agencies. It’s like it’s a sin to look at a colleague’s work and say out loud in a public forum, “Wow. He did a nice job this weekend.” “Or that frame is kick ass and very unique.” Even more rare than rivals complimenting each other is public criticism. “You’re better than that” or “That wasn’t your best effort” are words you will never hear out loud or in writing. We live in a global society where political correctness is the only goal, criticism is frowned upon and participation medals are more important than giving a deserving winner a pat on the back and telling that person they bested the rest….that day anyway.
It kind of sucks, doesn’t it?
I’ll be honest, covering Formula 1 races is but a small part of my income. I do a lot of work that most of you, outside of the Charlotte NC network, will never see. Food photography, portraits, random product shots. But every other weekend or so, I get to join my colleagues and friends at the race track to cover a sport that I deeply love. I always have. I look up to these photographers that I work alongside. Long before I set foot on a circuit, I knew their names and knew their images. They made pictures every week that told a story. And each photographer’s work was unique. It told a different tale from the Grand Prix. They may have been standing next to each other, but they came away with different images.
I love covering Formula 1 races not only because of the sport, but because it pushes me to use my eyes. Use my brain. Try harder. If you’re squaring up on the center line of any field, in any sport in the world, in a professional capacity, you had better bring your A game. And the only way forward is to push yourself against the kind of competition that forces you to be better.
My set from the Canadian GP is far from my best. But I’m going to point you in the direction of a few people who did do their best. James Moy, Lorenzo Bellanca, Vladimir Rys and Darren Heath. These are a small handful of the people that I have always looked up to that make me want to come back the next weekend and try again. Having called myself a professional photographer for only a very short amount of time, to be working in the same sport as these artists, is both deeply humbling and intimidating. But it is a challenge that I thoroughly enjoy.