Think Fast: What It's Like To Be A Formula 1 Photographer

Think Fast: What It's Like To Be A Formula 1 Photographer

Some of the highest performing cars, up close and personal. Formula 1 recently released a video to give us a track-side glimpse of what it's like to photograph these cars week-in and week out. Photographer Vladimir Rys was also kind of enough to share some of his images to help illustrate what they capture.

"See The Picture, Behind the Picture"

Rys presents simply how and why he goes the extra mile to bring a whole new perspective to Formula 1. 

"I don't really see a reason for me to find normal kind of track stuff, so I'm trying to see a picture behind the picture," explains Rys when looking for angles on the track and in the race paddock.

An RB11 is pictured reflected in the eye of an Infiniti Red Bull Racing mechanic inside the garage during previews for the United States of America Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas on October 22, 2015 in Austin, United States. Photo by Vladimir Rys.

"It's Quite Expensive"

To get an idea what kind of gear they use to capture these machines reaching speeds over 200 MPH, it can range anything from a wide angle lens to cinema lenses to super telephoto lenses. Photographer Qian Jun mentioned that he actually started as a spectator using a rather amateur camera set up, but as he's gone full-time is using more appropriate high-speed Canon bodies for the job. "It's quite expensive," Mark Thompson mentions, "you're carrying around 30-40 thousand pounds of equipment on you. Thompson uses a Canon 1DX Mark II track-side.

Rys mentions with these new digital DLSRs it's much easier to capture that cinematic look they're going for, with the 50mm prime is his favorite. But he also added that he uses cinematic lenses they use in movies just to try out different looks and more moody results.

Slowing It Down

Photographing Formula 1 cars brings something new each week. Every race has a different atmosphere, weather elements, and each turn on the track can render different results. 

"For this corner, I would probably underexpose a little bit, go dark, and probably use the silhouette and the shape of the car that is beautiful", Rys explains. 

The photographers also like to slow the shutter speed down to create leading lines. Some corners are more difficult than others to get sharpness because as you can imagine capturing these machines at full tilt can be difficult. 

"The atmosphere is special, there's so much intensity there, the faces of the drivers," Rys elaborates.

Max Verstappen celebrates his first career victory at the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix. Image by Vladimir Rys.

Building Relationships With The Teams

The relationship with the teams is very important. Rys went on to say that it took him about three years to get accepted in the garage. It's a very small atmosphere and its easy to get in the way. But as he built a rapport with the racing teams, they are now even working together. "Now when they take off the nose, they'll wait for me to get the shot first," as Rys smiles, "it wasn't like that in the first years."

Images used with permission of Vladimir Rys

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8 Comments

Michael Holst's picture

The images that come out of F1 are so crazy. There is so much going on besides the cars on the track. It would be a pretty overwhelming experience.

Patrick Savage's picture

That article is one of my favorites. We have a guy that does that for NASCAR races to. I've tried to use my Mamiya 645, but don't have anything worthwhile to show.

Francesco Fusina's picture

Amazing photographs!

Black Z Eddie .'s picture

Man, I miss shooting motorsports!

Colin Robertson's picture

Fantastic work. Insta follow! (sorry)

Dax Anderson's picture

So much more than just the regular track pictures I'm used to seeing. Great talent.

Dave Knoernschild's picture

Really nice shots