The latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast is something very special indeed. After the Austin round of MotoGP, David Emmett spoke to two of the finest photographers in the paddock, Scott Jones and Tony Goldsmith, about the challenges they face as motorcycle racing photographers.
It is a long and fascinating chat, covering a very wide range of topics concerning being a photographer in MotoGP. Scott and Tony talk about where their interest in photography came from, and how they ended up working as professional racing photographers. They talk about the technical challenges they face - not going into too much technical detail, so as not to confuse the photo-illiterate David Emmett - when shooting, such as dealing with the bane of the MotoGP photographer, heat haze.
As Tony has a long history of shooting at the TT on the Isle of Man, he explains the very different approaches and expectations of photography at the TT and MotoGP. Scott has spent some time shooting cars as well as bikes, and both he and Tony compare and contrast shooting cars and shooting motorcycles, and explain why taking pictures of motorcycle racing is much more interesting than taking pictures of cars.
There is naturally a discussion of favorite photos and favorite circuits, as well as what makes a track great for photography and what makes it bad for photography. Tony and Scott also talk about what they are looking for from a particular track, and from a particular shot. They talk about some of the mechanics of photography, and bring up things that fans often don't even think about: how the color scheme of a bike can make it hard to focus on it, and get a nice, clean shot of it. How a particular color can look fantastic in the flesh, but make reproducing it in print into a nightmare.
There is some talk of the tools of the trade: Scott and Tony both briefly talk about the cameras and types of lenses they carry. For those interested in the gory details, Scott has two great posts on the PhotoGP website: one with the list of photo gear which he uses, and one with all of the kit he packs when he goes to a race. There is even a discussion of the hardest part of the job of being a professional motorcycle racing photographer: actually making money.
One of the most interesting parts of the discussion was on planning a race weekend, and on the planning which can go into taking a particular photo. Both Scott and Tony give great insight, and we discuss one Scott's most famous photographs, "First in Flight", a remarkable shot of Marc Marquez coming over Turn 1 at Laguna Seca with both wheels off the ground. Scott wrote a fascinating blog piece on how he came to take that shot, giving great insight into how to go about creating such iconic photographs. There are a few prints of that photo, signed by Marc Marquez, still available on Scott's website.
The entire podcast was a pleasure to make, and makes great listening for motorcycle racing fans, fans of photography, and budding professional photographers alike. If you enjoyed the podcast, you can see more of Tony Goldsmith's work on his website http://www.tonygoldsmith.net/, or on his Facebook page. You can see more of Scott Jones' work here on MotoMatters.com, at the Photo.GP website, on Twitter and Instagram, and of course on Facebook.
If you are a budding photographer, and want to learn some of the secrets of the trade, then I highly recommend you join Scott Jones' Patreon page. By supporting Scott through Patreon, you get access to his tutorials on photographing motorcycle racing, as well as the chance of one-on-one tuition from him. You can see the short versions of his tutorial videos on Scott's Youtube channel.
Enjoy the show!
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