I often get questions about photographing racing and while most of those questions are about capturing on-track action, that’s only part of the process of actually making these photographs. The part people don’t ask about are actually the most important, such as safety aspect of working around fast cars. Some of this advice may seem obvious but if you follow these tips, I’ll guarantee it will result in better images because there won’t be any distractions.
Park your vehicle in a designated parking spot in a designated parking lot. The last thing you want to hear when getting ready to photograph a championship race is the announcer calling “will the owner of the orange Gremlin, please move your car or be towed.”
To get full access at some race tracks, you’ll need to work with the track’s press office. You can usually find them on the track’s website. it helps to have some kind of assignment, even if it’s just shooting for your blog. Tip: Have some business cards made up just for your car photography efforts. Moo offers great looking cars that you can put many different photographs of cars on the back and they are quote affordable. That’s what I do for this very site.
Remain behind safety barriers when making photographs, and while these barriers may not be everywhere, especially on a sprawling road course, use your judgment. If you’re not sure about your location, a safety worker will arrive asking you to move. If they do, be nice to them; they have a tough enough job without coping with whiny photographers. Road racing courses, such as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, often have barriers with “shoot through” holes so accredited photographers can shoot on-track action. These spaces usually providing good camera angles but are designed for the shooter’s safety first.
Be sure to bring earplugs. It may or may not be hot at the track but it surely will be loud. Most tracks’ concession stands sell earplugs and keep several pair in your camera bag because they’re easy to loose but inexpensive to replace.
Be alert while in the pit area. There will be many scooters, 4-wheelers, motorcycles, or golf carts transporting people around. Pay attention to cars getting ready to enter a staging area. Racecars don’t always have horns like the family jalopy.
In How I Photograph Cars, there’s also lots of information on photographing cars including motorsports from sports car racing to drag racing including safety tips when working around fast racecars. You’ll go behind the scenes as I photographs a small car collection for a client and look at not just the challenge of photographing a group of cars but the logistics involved in making the shot happen.