There is an article over at photofocus today about Motorsports Photography. As some of you may be aware, motorsports photography is
one of THE favorite genre I love to shoot and I have The Racing Historian site devoted to this.
As with most professional sport facilities, you are only allowed to make video or still images of the vehicles for personal use and they may not be sold or marketed without having an arrangement from the speedway and/or the sanctioning body. Save yourself legal hassles but taking care of this when obtaining your track credentials. That doesn’t mean you can’t sell photographs to the teams or the racers at the track, which can help make you a few bucks.
Please allow me to add to this item, with a few other suggestions from my experiences.
- ALWAYS read all and any material you receive from the race track or facility. Read the disclosures on your tickets (if you are not shooting credentialed) or material provide by the track.
- DO NOT sign anything if you are not comfortable assigning the rights to your work to some other party.
- Having credentials makes photographing much more easy due to the access to areas that are not available to the common spectator. However, it is not absolutely necessary and at some tracks/circuits – it’s not worth the hassle. I’d rather shoot as a spectator and keep my creative rights if possible. (Again, read tickets and other materials provided.)
- Regardless of whether you are shooting with media credentials or not, ALWAYS treat the safety workers and track officials with respect and courtesy. Many of these people are volunteers who are just trying to do their job and to keep everyone safe. Sure, you’ll always run into someone who is just a jerk or in a bad mood, but that’s life. But I’ve found most love what they are doing and will help you as much as they possibly can. This is particularly true at events that are not the top echelon of motorsports such as NASCAR, Indycar, etc.
- From my experience shooting with media credentials, I always found I benefited by introducing myself to the corner workers, asking them if there is anywhere they do NOT want me to shoot from, and if there is anything I do that they don’t like, please just tell me. I do not want to get into their way and I find if you show them this courtesy and respect that they will more often than not appreciate your efforts in this regard.
- Although we all love our fellow photographers, do not be surprised if you cross paths with an ass-hat who is also photographing at the track and will attempt to tell you and inform you of everything you are doing wrong and what you ‘should’ be doing. Use your judgement if you feel this person is honestly trying to offer friendly advice from a position of experience, or if they are simply attempting to prove how great a photographer he or she ‘thinks’ they are.
- Enjoy yourself! Whether you have a job to do or if its just personal enjoyment, the opportunity to photograph the fantastic sport of motor racing can be exciting and challenging. My single favorite moment as a photographer to date was my first as a media credential holder. I was at Watkins Glen for a historic / vintage race weekend where the Can-Am reunion was running. I was standing at the top of the esses literally inches from the guardrail. The first time this herd of thundering beast came flying up through that section of the track and went by me was an experience of senses that I will never forget. I could feel the power of those cars vibrating through my entire body. I could literally feel my teeth absorbing the vibration from the all of that horsepower racing by. (Earplugs!) I’ll also never forget the feeling of those little bits of rubber flying up from the track and showering my face. It was simply exhilarating, with my adrenaline pumping and the hair on my arms standing straight up. I loved every single second of that weekend.