How To Get Started In Motorsport Photography: A Guide From An Expert

How To Get Started In Motorsport Photography: A Guide From An Expert

How To Get Started In Motorsport Photography: A Guide From An Expert

So you want to get started in Motorsport Photography? How exciting.

I’ve worked as a motorsport photographer since 2012, and over that time, numerous people have asked how I get to do what I do. In fact, it’s probably the question I get asked most frequently.

While it’s easy to focus on the thrill of being trackside exhilarating moments in racing, camera in hand, that you see as a fan, there is also a lot of hard work and artistry behind the scenes as well. It’s not just a job; it’s a passion. And it has to be if you want to pursue motorsport photography seriously.

In this guide, I’ll share insights from my own experiences, shedding light on both the exhilarating highs and the gritty realities of pursuing motorsport photography as a career. If you’ve got the drive and the determination, you’re in the right place to start your journey.

The Reality Of Being A Motorsport Photographer

The Reality Of Being A Motorsport Photographer

I’m just going to hit you with the harsh, honest truth to start with. While motorsport photography is exhilarating, it also demands hard work and dedication.

Race weekends are more than what you see on TV or at the track. You might be aware that most motorsport events are three days of track activity, but there is also setup day where teams bump in, and there are a bunch of media activities. All of these days include early starts (well before the fans arrive) and late finishes, all while being subjected to heat or rain all day. All while meeting the tight deadlines of instant social media updates and news stories for websites. 

It’s also going to be extremely hard for you to get an opportunity to work with the teams and brands you want to work with. Most of them will have well-established relationships with veteran motorsport photographers who have been in the sport for years.

While on the other side of things, you’ll be among a bunch of new photographers all trying to get a foot in the door. Every year, I see so many fresh faces turn up who have secured their media accreditation for the first time, super enthusiastic and desperate to make it in a very competitive industry.

The reality is that most of these aspiring motorsport photographers will disappear after only a couple of events, while only one or two will see out the entire season and really start their journey.

All that said, if you are willing to put in the work, there are opportunities out there.

Building Your Skills

Motorsport Photography - Building Your Skills

Now, if I haven’t scared you off entirely, it’s time to work on your skills. And there is only one way to build your photography skills: go to motorsport events as a spectator and take photos… Lots of them.

Why lots of photos? It’s the only way you are going to be able to build up a diverse set of skills and develop your own distinct style. As I just mentioned, there are always many aspiring motorsport photographers looking for an opportunity, but what’s going to help you stand out from the crowd is being able to consistently deliver high-quality photos in your own unique and consistent style of photos.

While a lot of photographers are going to assume that just means occasionally nailing a panning photo and applying creative edits, there is much more to it than that:

Practice

Just like honing any other skill, practice makes perfect in photography. So keep regularly attending events and snapping away.

Don’t worry if you don’t have access to big events or different circuits at this stage. Keep going back to the same circuit; most of the permanent race tracks I’ve been to offer some great photo opportunities from the spectator areas, and you’ll continue to fine-tune your skills while finding new and interesting angles the more you keep shooting.

It doesn’t have to be the big headline events either, in fact, state and local events are an even better place to practice as you do have to contend with the big crowds and other ticketing restrictions that come with the bigger events.

Consistently practising is also essential so you are sharp and ready when you do get your chance to shoot bigger events.

Most of the essential skills for motorsport photography come down to rhythm and timing, and it doesn’t take long to get rusty with them. In fact, even we professionals need a practice session or two to get our rhythm back after the offseason.

Showcase Your Best Work

Showcase Your Best Work

The difference between getting a good motorsport photo and being a motorsport photographer is being able to consistently deliver good-quality photos.

Showcasing your best work is a great way to prove to any prospective customers that you can deliver on that.

Ideally, you would have your own website with a portfolio of your best images that you regularly update. However, social media platforms like Instagram are also a great place to regularly share your work, and create awareness of your photography.

Remember, consistently showcasing high-quality images is the gateway to creating opportunities for yourself, so make sure your account looks professional and has a decent amount of photos to show both the quality and the range that you’re able to produce. 

Many professional photographers (myself included) have successfully kickstarted their careers through social media. 

Patience and Perseverance

Like any creative endeavour, success in motorsport photography doesn’t come overnight. Patience, persistence and continuous improvement are going to be fundemental if you want to become a motorsport photographer professionally.

Motorsport photography is a highly popular and competitive field, with very few opportunities for the number of people wanting to take them – particularly here in Australia. If you’re serious about getting into it, it is going to take a lot of hard work and a bit of luck to stand out from the crowd.

Keep working away at it, keep showcasing your best work, and opportunities will start to present themselves as you progress. As I mentioned earlier in this post, I’ve seen many photographers show up for a handful of events. But it’s the few that show up consistently who get noticed and eventually succeed.

Passion

Motorsport Photography Passion

More important than anything else I’ll teach you on this blog is this: do it because you love it.

There are very few people who earn a full-time income out of motorsport photography. It is the passion for both the sport and creating amazing images that are going to be the difference in putting in the effort to give yourself the best opportunity to succeed.

Sure, making money is great, but if you don’t love it, it will reflect in your work. People will see it in your photos, and they will see it in you.

Wrap Up

Your journey in motorsport photography starts with a passion for the craft and a commitment to continuous learning. Remember, great photographs can be taken even from spectator areas. It’s your skill and dedication that will define your success.

Do you want to get started in motorsport photography? If so, what inspired you to do so? Drop a comment below to let me know!

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Rhys Vandersyde

Rhys Vandersyde

I've been working as a motorsport photographer in Australia since 2012, building up my business InSyde Media. I am very fortunate that I have been able to work at all sorts of motorsport events including Supercars, F1 and WRC all over Australia and New Zealand. Also, check out my personal website where I document my travels and a few other things.

What Does It Cost To Attend Every Supercars Round?

What Does It Cost To Attend Every Supercars Round?

What Does It Cost To Attend Every Supercars Round?

Over the course of the year, I tend to get a lot of questions about what it costs to travel around the country to work at every Repco Supercars Championship round. And I don’t have an educated answer, so I usually say a lot.

That answer usually prompts a quick follow-up question about who covers those costs. So, to give a more factual answer, I dived back into my bookkeeping software and crunched the numbers of what it cost me to attend every round of the Supercars Championship in 2023 and how those costs were covered.

Let’s take a look:

Who Covers The Costs

To answer the biggest question, who covers the costs of attending each Supercars round? Well, the short answer is me. As a freelance photographer, ultimately, the cost to attend each event comes out of my own pocket.

So, as you can imagine, I need to ensure that I secure enough work and charge my customers enough to not only cover the costs of attending each round but also so I can pay myself a wage each and every week, even when there aren’t racing events on.

Obviously, the second part of that equation doesn’t solely rely on the work I do at Supercars events. I work roughly 30 motorsport events each year, and the Supercars schedule only usually accounts for half of that, but it is a consideration when reviewing my prices each year.

How Do I Minimise My Costs

Now that we’ve established that the cost of travelling to Supercars events (and all the other events I cover throughout the year) is an expense that I wear. How do I try to minimise these costs? Actually, I’ve written a whole post about that very thing. Check it out here.

The biggest thing to keep in mind when travelling to motorsport events, especially the big events, is that you are always going to be paying premium prices even if you try to mitigate your expenses.

What Does It Cost

For context, I’m currently based in New South Wales, so all these costs are associated with travelling from Newcastle/Sydney.

I’m also only going to break down the costs of getting to each venue. I have a media pass, so I don’t need tickets for each race and any other expenses I incur while attending an event, like food, etc, are purely down to personal preference, so I’m not going to include those either.

Supercars Test – Sydney Motorsport Park – New South Wales

Supercars Test - Sydney Motorsport Park

For 2023, the Supercars schedule kicked off with an official test day event at Sydney Motorsport Park. Luckily for me, that’s a reasonably local event, so I simply drive down to the track for the day. Normally, that’s about half a tank of fuel for the return trip, but for this test day in particular, I had to continue on to Sydney Airport that evening to fly down to Launceston because the Speed Series opening round at Symmons Plains commenced the next day.

Transport – $40

Total: $40

Round 1 – Newcastle Street Circuit – New South Wales

Round 1 - Newcastle Street Circuit

I’ve been fortunate in recent years to have a home event on the Supercars calendar, the Newcastle Street Circuit event. Luckily for 2023, it was the season opener.

That said, street circuit events aren’t the most practical to commute to and from. In fact, to drive to the parking for the Newcastle event and catch the ferry back to the track would have taken 30 minutes longer each way than driving directly to the track. Just due to my location, public transport wasn’t a practical solution either, and parking in Newcastle is both limited and expensive over the course of the weekend. So it was actually cheaper and much more convenient to stay in a hotel adjacent to the circuit.

Fortunately, I had a credit with one of the local hotels after the 2020 race was cancelled. So, technically, this one didn’t actually cost me anything this year. But it did come out of my pocket at some point, so here are the costs.

Accommodation – $588

Total: $588

Round 2 – Australian Grand Prix Melbourne – Melbourne, Victoria

Round 2 - Australian Grand Prix Melbourne

The first flyaway race of the Supercars calendar was an expensive one—the Australian Grand Prix.

Given the event’s popularity and the sheer volume of people travelling to Melbourne for the race both locally and internationally, especially this year (I recall it was sold out for three days). It’s always extremely expensive to travel to the Grand Prix. Luckily, I managed to lock in accommodation well before the date of 2023 was locked in and confirmed, so I managed to save money that way. Also, to reduce the costs of my flights, I flew in a day earlier and left a day later than I really needed to, which saved me a few hundred dollars on the flights.

One of the best parts of Formula 1 in Melbourne is that the trams to and from Albert Park are included with your ticket (even if you have a media pass), so you can stay anywhere within the city and still get to the track quite easily. So, instead of renting a car, I took the Skybus from the airport to the city and used the trams each day to get to the track.

That all said, it’s also one of the most challenging events to make money at. With three international categories on the schedule now and only two local ones, customers are quite limited for the Grand Prix. The trade-off is covering the pinnacle of the sport.

Flights – $382

Accommodation – $914

Skybus – $36

Total: $1332

Round 3 – Barbabgallo Raceway – Perth, Western Australia

Round 3 - Barbabgallo Raceway

All the way across the other side of the country, these longer-haul fly-away events are some of my favourites to cover. Unlike the tracks on the east coast of Australia that I visit a couple of times a year, visiting Barbagallo Raceway (or CARCO Raceway – whatever it’s officially called now) is usually only a one-off for the year with Supercars.

That said, they are also some of the most expensive. Flights across the country are never cheap. On the fortunate side, usually, three national-level support categories also follow Supercars across the country for the round, as they did this year, so there are opportunities to pick up enough work to balance everything out.

Flights – $879

Accommodation – $720

Rental Car – $602

Total: $2201

Round 4 – Symmons Plains Raceway – Launceston, Tasmania

Round 4 - Symmons Plains Raceway

In terms of Australian cities, Launceston isn’t a particularly big one. So it doesn’t take much for everything to book out when Supercars heads to Tasmania for their annual visit. So I tend to book a couple of options well in advance of the calendar being locked in to ensure I don’t end up stuck either without accommodation or even a big accommodation bill.

That worked out in my favour in 2023, and I managed to snag a pretty good price accommodation, keeping my costs down for this one. Also, winter isn’t really an ideal time to head to Tasmania from a tourist perspective. Hence, the attendees tend to typically be locals, more so than interstate travellers, which helps keep the cost of flights down.

Flight – $479

Accommodation – $439

Rental Car – $409

Total: $1327

Round 5 – Hidden Valley Raceway – Darwin, Nothern Territory

Round 5 - Hidden Valley Raceway

Undoubtedly, the annual trip to Darwin for the round at Hidden Valley is always the most expensive. The middle of the year is an ideal time to visit the Northern Territory to escape the winter down south. Couple that with a Supercars event, and it’s the perfect excuse for many fans to head to the city. And I get that it’s up amongst my favourite events to travel to as well.

That said, while tourism is a big part of Darwin’s economy, the city really isn’t that big. Booking early is the only way to ensure that you will actually have accommodation and a rental car for the event. And you just can’t avoid the inflated prices; it’s peak tourist season when we visit with Supercars.

If you want to save money, there is a free shuttle bus service that links the track to the city, but that usually doesn’t match up with my travel requirements, so I need to make sure I have a rental car in Darwin.

Flight – $972

Accommodation – $1519

Rental Car – $412

Total: $2903

Round 6 – Townsville Street Circuit – Queensland

Round 6 - Townsville Street Circuit

Another good tropical escape during the winter, Townsville is another of the more popular Supercars events to travel to, both for those competing and the fans. That said, if you book early enough like I try to, you can avoid spending too much on accommodation and rental cars.

Unlike some of the other street circuit events where I try to save money by not renting a car, for the most part, to save money on the accommodation, renting a car is a requirement. The savings in the accommodation costs more than cover the cost of the rental car if you book early enough.

Flight – $791

Accommodation – $690

Rental Car – $314

Total: $1795

Round 7 – Sydney Motorsport Park – New South Wales

Round 7 - Sydney Motorsport Park

Despite being a local-ish event for me (2 hours drive each way is still local, right?) I will always book accommodation near Sydney Motorsport Park for these Supercars rounds. By the time I commute in, it makes an already long day at the track some much longer.

That, coupled with the switch to night racing in Sydney in recent years (which is excellent for the sport), means that staying near the track for the duration of the Sydney round is a no-brainer.

Accommodation – $704

Travel – $90

Total: $794

Round 8 – The Bend Motorsport Park – Tailem Bend, South Australia

Round 8 - The Bend Motorsport Park

Accommodation for the regional races is always the hardest to secure. Smaller towns mean much more limited options. So there is some sort of irony that one of the biggest tracks we visit – The Bend Motorsport Park – (if you account for the extended GT layout) is near the smallest town we visit on the Supercars calendar.

There is no getting around it; Tailem Bend is tiny, with only a handful of accommodation options. Nearby Murray Bridge is bigger with a few more options, and where I try to stay during the Supercars visit. But as you can see, that’s still a relatively costly exercise. Staying in Adelaide is often cheaper, but it does make for a considerable drive to the track each day.

Flight – $499

Accommodation – $1323

Rental Car – $500

Total: $2322

Round 9 – Sandown Raceway – Melbourne, Victoria

Round 9 - Sandown Raceway

A big part of my decision-making around booking travel for Supercars events is based on what other events I need to travel to between them. So when the Supercars and SpeedSeries announced their calendars with events at Sandown Raceway over consecutive weekends, logistically staying in Melbourne for the duration of both events made a lot of sense.

I would typically fly down to Melbourne for races at Sandown, but flying back and forth for one day at home doesn’t make much sense, at least for me. That said two events back to back and an extended stay in Melbourne does typically make the costs add up, so instead of flying down and renting a car for nearly two weeks, I decided to drive down to mitigate some of those expenses.

Here are the costs for driving to and from Melbourne (and to and from the track each day) as well as the cost of accommodation for the duration of the Supercars round. Obviously, I paid more, and the rest is attributed to my expenses for the SpeedSeries round instead.

Transport – $250

Accommodation – $929

Total: $1179

Round 10 – Mount Panorama – Bathurst, New South Wales

Round 10 - Mount Panorama

The Bathurst 1000 is the single biggest motorsport event of the year to cover. Hundreds of thousands of people flock to Mount Panorama each year for this one. And I’m genuinely convinced some of them have no idea there is a race happening. They just come for the atmosphere.

That said, Bathurst is a regional town, and back to my point about regional towns being the hardest to secure accommodation in due to the size of these events. That steps up to another level for the Bathurst 1000.

Camping really isn’t an option for a photographer. With batteries to charge overnight and working late into the evening every night. Even just keeping my gear secure while I’m trackside, there are some genuine and practical reasons not to camp at the track.

That said, all the hotels know years in advance when the race is going to be (it’s been on the same weekend each year for well over a decade now), and with limited options around town, they typically charge in excess of $1000 per night for the Bathurst 1000 weekend. Obviously, that’s not ideal for someone trying to make an income out of the race.

So, instead, we rent a house from a Bathurst local for the week while they go on a holiday to get away from the event. This is a costly exercise in itself, but once I split the costs amongst several other members of the media, it becomes slightly more reasonable. My contribution to the house this year, as you can see below, was just a sixth of the total cost of the house, splitting it with other members of the media.

Transport – $160

Accommodation – $1069

Total: $1229

Round 11 – Gold Coast Street Circuit – Queensland

Round 11 - Gold Coast Street Circuit

Similarly to Sandown, I elected to drive up instead of fly for the Gold Coast round. I had a few jobs immediately following the event in Queensland that warranted driving up anyway. But once you factor in the inflated flight prices, given how popular the Surfers Paradise event is and the limited time difference between flying and driving, it makes it a little harder to justify the extra expense of flying.

One of the novelties unique to the Gold Coast race is staying within the circuit or even within a short walk of it. And while I’ve done that a few times over the years, in 2023, it was a much cheaper option to stay a little further away (South Surfers Paradise, to be exact) and utilise the free trams (for event ticket holders) instead.

The back end of the Supercars calendar features some of the biggest events (attendance-wise), so it’s harder to snag a good deal.

Transport – $180

Accommodation – $1201

Total: $1381

Round 12 – Adelaide Street Circuit – South Australia

Round 12 - Adelaide Street Circuit

Wrapping up the Supercars schedule for 2023, the title decider was held on the streets of Adelaide.

Luckily, for the 2023 edition of the race, I was able to pick up some pretty good accommodation within walking distance of the circuit for a reasonable price. Again the benefits of locking in everything early. But that also meant I could avoid renting a car for the week in Adelaide, helping keep my costs in line for the year.

That said, though, accommodation within walking distance is a bit limited in Adelaide, and I have had to stay further away and drive to the track each day. I had a little bit of luck in getting a good option secured.

Flight – $476

Accommodation – $945

Uber – $112

Total: $1533

Totals For The Year

Now that you know a little about each event, it’s time to look at the total travel expenses for the year. In 2023, I spent $11,041 just on accommodation to attend Supercars rounds. Flights for 7 of the 12 rounds set me back $4478. While the remainder of my miscellaneous transport costs (rental cars, fuel, uber/taxis) set me back another $3145.

The trick to attending every Supercars event is to get in early and look for the best deals. It doesn’t take long after the schedule for the year is announced for those costs to blow out by thousands of dollars.

If you want to know more about how I save money travelling to different motorsport events around the country, check out this post.

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Rhys Vandersyde

Rhys Vandersyde

I've been working as a motorsport photographer in Australia since 2012, building up my business InSyde Media. I am very fortunate that I have been able to work at all sorts of motorsport events including Supercars, F1 and WRC all over Australia and New Zealand. Also, check out my personal website where I document my travels and a few other things.

How I Got My Start As A Motorsport Photographer

How I Got My Start As A Motorsport Photographer

How I Got My Start As A Motorsport Photographer

Another one of the questions I get asked fairly frequently by aspiring photographers is: how did I become a professional motorsport photographer?

At the heart of the question, they are looking for information and tips about how they, too, can get their foot in the door and pursue motorsport photography as a career. But there is more to the story than just one particular moment.

So, let’s delve into the story of how I got my start in motorsport photography on my way to becoming a professional motorsport photographer.

My Passion For Photography

I’ve always had an interest in taking photos, starting out with those disposable Kodak film cameras as a kid.

With the development of small digital cameras that would fit in your pocket (long before smartphones took over this role), carrying a camera with me all the time became second nature. I’d always have one with me as I travelled around, be that for work or for leisure.

As most young people do after finishing school, travelling overseas was high on my priority list. While I’d taken the opportunity to go to a couple of countries, however, it was one fateful trip to Canada, in particular, the majestic landscapes of Banff, that made me take my photography a little more seriously. You see, the photos I took with my little point-and-shoot camera really didn’t do the scenery justice, and it was upon returning from that trip that encouraged me to purchase my first proper DSLR camera – A Pentax with a twin lens kit.

It took me a little while (and another trip to Canada, funnily enough) to really understand the nuances of my DSLR camera. But I’ve owned a “proper camera” ever since – well, except for a short stint where the Pentax was stolen from my car, but that’s a story for another day.

That drive to take better and better photos and to do the scene in front of me justice, especially as I travelled more and more, forced me to understand my camera and work on different composition techniques. Something that I still work on to this day.

My Passion For Motorsport

Humble beginnings as a Flag Marshall

In parallel to photography, I always had a keen interest in motorsport, despite no one else in my family really passionately following it. Watching Formula 1 replays and Supercar races on TV was a weekend ritual for me as a kid. Bathurst and the Australian Grand Prix, in particular, were full weekends glued to the TV.

Despite watching motorsport on TV for many years, I didn’t get a chance to go a track in person until my Dad took me to my first Supercars event at Eastern Creek (now Sydney Motorsport Park) when I was still in school.

It was at this event I was introduced to the concept of volunteering as an official. As you might notice when you are at the track, the track commentary mentioned a few times that they were always looking for volunteers. A couple of years later, and after a couple more trips to Eastern Creek and Oran Park as a spectator, after finishing up school, I decided to try my hand as a flag marshal and spent a few years volunteering as one at Sydney Motorsport Park.

Over that time, I had the chance to be a flaggie at a range of events, from state rounds to Supercars and the A1GP (remember when that was a thing?), and it was that time trackside that allowed me to learn and get an insight into the behind the scenes of the sport at all different levels. Something that would come in handy later when I returned to the sport as a photographer.

Ultimately, I’d stop volunteering after a few years, mostly because my boss at the time wasn’t overly happy with me regularly taking Fridays off work. But it was an extremely valuable experience that I still find valuable to this day.

Interests Combined

After walking away from volunteering at the track for a few years, I still maintained a keen interest in the sport and followed all of the major motorsport categories on TV. I even went back to the track sporadically as a spectator, camera in hand.

Taking photos from the spectator side of the fence, the same drive that pushed me to take better and better photos while travelling, also existed at the track. As I took more and more motorsport photos, I wanted them to showcase what drew me into the sport: the speed, the action and the bright, vibrant colours of the cars’ liveries.

Getting my camera out of “sports mode” took a few events. In fact, I don’t even think that’s an option on new DSLR and mirrorless cameras anymore, anyway. But once I did and started working on my panning and composition, my photos noticeably improved. That continued improvement encouraged me to go to more and more events as a spectator.

One Fateful Event

To this point, I’d been building a career in IT and taking photos just for fun. However, one fateful evening MOTOR Magazine were hosting a track night event at Sydney Motorsport Park, and I decided to go down and take some photos of it. Again, just for fun.

After sharing the photos on Facebook, a friend of mine who happened to work at MOTOR reached out about some of the shots I took, looking to feature them in an article in the magazine potentially. Not thinking much of it, I sent them a link to the photos that I took from the event. Completely unedited. However, to my surprise, they wanted to use a selection of those photos to be featured in a multi-page spread in the May 2013 issue of the magazine (featured below).

Prior to this, I never really thought that there was more to my photography than taking good photos for my own benefit, but having someone else (who actually knew a thing or two about the media, and working in the industry) show interest in my photos really sparked me to more actively pursue opportunities and take my photography even more seriously.

Featured in MOTOR Magazine

Practice

In taking it more seriously, I made a conscious effort to get to even more events as a spectator and really work on my skills. In fact, I spent one entire weekend taking panning photos to fine-tune and smooth out my technique.

With each new event, not only did the composition of my photos improve, but so did my selection and editing technique. So when I seized the opportunity to pitch a few other automotive/motorsport events MOTOR that fit in with their brand, without the expectation of the photos being published, I could give them a better refined and edited selection of photos.

To be honest, at this point, I just wanted the experience. Fortunately, the team at the magazine were quite receptive to my ideas, and each of those events that I pitched turned into their own multi-page spreads for the magazine, which was quite cool.

If you’ve got copies of MOTOR Magazine from this time, you can see a considerable improvement in my subsequent features.

Perseverance

The one thing I tell everyone who wants to pursue motorsport photography seriously and try to make a career out of it is that you’ll need perseverance.

You can’t just show up to one event, take one amazing photo and have the world open up to you, despite what I said in the previous section. That wasn’t just the result of one photo. That was the culmination of years of practice, regardless of whether I was actively pursuing motorsport photography as a job or not.

Even then, that was only one publication that not even 12 months later would go through a change of ownership, consolidation and change of editorial team, which would ultimately mean they’d bring in their own preferred photographers. Unfortunately, that has and will always be part of the industry.

However, what established me in the industry was taking the opportunity that was opened up to me and making the decision to do as many motorsport events as I could, including the full Supercars Championship.

It wasn’t easy – from convincing my boss to give me the time off, to having to pay all the expenses of travelling to these events out of my own pocket with very little expected income at the time, it was quite a big commitment at the time. But it was that commitment to show up consistently to all the events over the course of that year (and subsequently) that allowed me to build the connections and customer base that would ultimately allow me to make this a career.

The nature of motorsport photography is that many, many people want to do it. Every new season, I see dozens of new photographers show up trying, promising the world, and even poaching some of my customers, only to disappear after a few events. What will make you stand out is showing up consistently over a long period of time.

The Pay Off

I’ve now been fortunate enough to have been working as a motorsport photographer for over ten years. Covering an amazing range of events, not only all across Australia but even internationally.

However, none of these opportunities has just been handed to me; it’s taken a lot of perseverance and building connections, even as people change roles in the sport. Media outlet editors will change, drivers will come and go, and team PRs will move on to roles with different teams, or even out of the sport entirely. Especially at the end of each season.

Nothing about a career as a motorsport photographer is easy; it takes time, but the payoff is some truly amazing opportunities.

Rhys Vandersyde

Rhys Vandersyde

I've been working as a motorsport photographer in Australia since 2012, building up my business InSyde Media. I am very fortunate that I have been able to work at all sorts of motorsport events including Supercars, F1 and WRC all over Australia and New Zealand. Also, check out my personal website where I document my travels and a few other things.

Keeping The Creative Spark Alive As A Motorsport Photographer

Keeping The Creative Spark Alive As A Motorsport Photographer

Keeping The Creative Spark Alive As A Motorsport Photographer

Has your motorsport photography started to feel stale?

Do you keep going back to the same race track over and over again and taking similar photos?

Trust me; I’ve been there. In fact, I think you will find that almost all motorsport photographers have experienced this at some point in their careers.

It is very easy when you go back to the same tracks regularly and keep photographing the same categories all the time to fall into a routine of capturing certain photos. And while these photos are very good in their own merit, they start to become repetitious for your customers and uninspiring for yourself as a photographer.

And there is nothing worse than getting to the end of a race weekend and not being happy with the photos you captured, especially in our own personal high standards that we often set for ourselves as creatives.

So what can you do to keep the creative spark alive and continue to capture great motorsport photos that you are really happy with? Here are a few tips from my own experience that might just help you.

Seek New Perspectives

For some people, this might be obvious. But I give myself a mission to seek out a new perspective that I have not photographed before each time I go to a circuit.

As a motorsport photographer, it’s easy to fall into a routine of shooting from familiar angles and positions. To reignite your creative spark, you also need to challenge yourself to explore new perspectives.

Try shooting from unconventional angles, maybe wander into the crowd and look at the track from a different viewpoint. At the end of the day, you might not be happy with all the shots. However, you often need to try different shots to find new creative ways to showcase a venue.

Try Different Lenses

You’ve got the go-to lenses that you attach to your cameras the moment you arrive at the media centre. I know it because I do it as well. But what would happen if you tried some different lenses?

From personal experience, I know that I tend to look for photo opportunities based on the lenses I have mounted to my cameras at that particular time. While I’ve built up that skill over years of experience, it’s almost become second nature to the point where I sometimes can’t see other photo opportunities that might be present. And I’ve got no doubt you do something similar, whether you realise it or not.

So why not mix things up by using a different lens than what you typically use? Maybe spend a day using that wide-angle lens that typically sits in your camera bag that you don’t tend to use very often. Maybe it’s not a wide angle, it’s a fixed prime, but we’ve all got that one lens that we bought that we thought would be great but never seems to get used. Give yourself the objective to use it for a full day and see how it sparks new creative ideas in your motorsport photography.

If you are a member of your camera manufacturer’s professional services, you could also ask them to borrow a different lens for a race weekend. It’s often included as part of your membership, and while we typically use it to temporarily replace gear being cleaned or repaired, why not use it to try something new? If you shoot with a 400mm, try a 500mm or 600mm lens. Ask them to try out a super wide angle or even a fisheye lens. How about a wide aperture fixed prime that you never used before?

It’s all about forcing yourself to look at things differently, and you’ll be surprised at where new and unique photo opportunities present themselves.

Attend Different Tracks And Events

I can tell you right now that the number one thing I can do for my creativity is to go to a new circuit or event.

New and different events and venues are always exciting (and sometimes a little scary). The simple process of doing something different will force you to look at your motorsport photography with fresh eyes. Best of all, I’ve found that fresh perspective also carries over to events and tracks that I regularly cover, at least for a little while.

Even if you have to pay to travel and attend the event as a spectator, being able to challenge yourself in a new environment with a category that’s been on your wishlist to see for some time is going to be massively beneficial when you return to your regular tracks and customers.

As such, I budget for and actively pursue opportunities to cover international events, particularly ones off my bucket list. Especially ones that fall outside of my usual schedule of events.

Take A Day To Explore

Do you have to travel to motorsport events around the country (or the world)? How often are you going straight from the airport to the track and vice versa? Or do you drive straight home after a big race weekend?

I’ve found that spending an extra day in the destination of the venue and doing something not specifically motorsport related (although visiting the odd car/transport museum often happens) is a great way to reset and not feel like you are just bouncing from race track to race track. When you start out as a motorsport photographer, any opportunity to be at a race track is amazing fun. But as you start to return to the same venues over and over again, you’ve got to look for other ways to make it fun and keep the travel exciting. Otherwise, if it starts to feel monotonous, so will your creativity.

So I do recommend that you take the opportunity to take advantage of the travel (where you can) to spend an extra day doing something touristy or even just different to keep that fun factor alive. As an added bonus, the flights after are often cheaper, and the traffic is often less heading back home a day later than everyone else.

Take Breaks and Recharge

Spending days on end trackside can be both physically and mentally demanding. It is normal towards the end of the motorsport season or after longer endurance race events to need time to reset and recharge.

As you start to cover more and more motorsport events, you may notice that physical and mental fatigue sets in, and your creativity suffers as a result. When you do, it’s okay to take a break away from the sport, especially at the end of the season, and even your camera gear and do other things for a little bit.

At the end of a long season, I’ve covered at least 30 different motorsport events. After the last one, my camera gear won’t get touched for at least a few weeks to give myself a chance to get away from it for a bit.

End-of-season fatigue is a real thing, but once you’ve given yourself that break to recharge, you’ve quickly become eager for the new season to start again so you can get back into it. I know; I go through it every year.

Wrap Up

When you start in motorsport photography, everything is new and exciting, so it’s really easy to be creative and feel like you are capturing great images each time you are trackside.

But as you start to cover more and more events at the same venues, it can be hard to hold on to that new and exciting feeling that often sparks much of our creativity. Make sure you look out for opportunities to keep your motorsport photography fresh and new. Otherwise, if you start to feel unenthusiastic and uncreative, that will be presented in your images, and it will be really hard for you to keep motivated to keep creating.

Rhys Vandersyde

Rhys Vandersyde

I've been working as a motorsport photographer in Australia since 2012, building up my business InSyde Media. I am very fortunate that I have been able to work at all sorts of motorsport events including Supercars, F1 and WRC all over Australia and New Zealand. Also, check out my personal website where I document my travels and a few other things.

How To Price Your Motorsport Photography

How To Price Your Motorsport Photography

How To Price Your Motorsport Photography

I don’t know why this is such a taboo topic, not just in motorsport photography, but even in general – short of point-blank asking other photographers. Even then, it is the most avoided question among shooters.

It’s understandable as not one price fits all situations, and there are a few factors that go into pricing photography. Top-tier Formula 1 teams pay a lot more than a junior karter.

What makes pricing doubly difficult is there are literally hundreds of motorsport fans out there willing to give away photos for free. Be that because they think it might lead to opportunity or just don’t understand the value of their photo.

Pro Tip: If somebody wants to use one of your photos, it has an inherent value. I’m not saying that you must send an invoice for a lucky shot that you got as a fan, especially if you are not trying to pursue motorsport photography professionally. But that photo has value, and you should get something in return.

So How Do You Price Your Motorsport Photos?

There are three models that professionals typically use when selling their images: individual photo sales as a photo package or at an hourly/daily rate.

Both methods have benefits and are suited to a variety of business structures.

Per Photo

Per photo pricing is straight up the most difficult to give you a definitive answer in terms of price.

Pricing on single photo usage really depends on how it is intended to be used, and this can vary greatly.

A driver wanting to use a photo on social media is a very different prospect from a sponsor using the same image for an advertising campaign.

Obviously, it’s unreasonable to charge a local junior karter in the thousands for an image to post on social media, and it’s equally unreasonable only to be paid $20 for a photo used in a national marketing campaign.

That’s why I personally try to avoid this method of pricing where possible, especially with regular customers.

It’s a clumsy model that requires you to ask a lot of questions, which can be frustrating for both you and the customer. It is also very hard to explain when approaching new clients.

That being said, it’s not uncommon to be approached by a competitor who is not a customer to view your work through social media or within the media and reach out to discuss single image rights.

This is one of the few times where it’s not unexpected to ask questions about how the person/business intends to use your photos and demonstrate professionalism in doing so.

How Do You Price Single Images?

If you are dealing with a reputable media outlet (magazine/website etc.), it should have a rate card for the images used.

The less reputable outlets will try to take advantage of naive photographers, which is an unfortunate part of the industry. If the media outlet doesn’t have a rate card or isn’t willing to give you a price per image, then it’s not worth pursuing a relationship in the future.

For top-tier motorsport (we’re talking Formula 1, IndyCar, WEC, WRC etc.), if you would like to get an idea of the value of a photo, agencies like Getty, AAP and Motorsport Images list their photo individual sale prices as well as the usage limitations they have for those prices. Check out the Getty price calculator here.

For commercial usage, it’s much harder, so more questions need to be asked. Just keep in mind that some series (F1, WRC, Supercars etc.) don’t allow images to be sold commercially if media credentials have been awarded, and there are significant consequences if this occurs.

If you are allowed to sell images commercially, then enquire about the project budget to get an understanding of where the customer is at. The overall budget, if given an answer, will save you from underselling your work by a large amount.

For individuals, again, just be careful about what rights you’ve signed away when you accepted your media credentials, but I’d be less concerned about underselling yourself. Instead, focus on building a relationship that enables you to sell photo packages (see below) at future events on an ongoing basis.

Photo pricing for individuals is a very arbitrary thing. I’ve had people tell me that $5 is way too much for a single photo, and others tell me that $50 is a bargain. It depends on the shot and where the customer is coming from. Be prepared to negotiate a little.

I’ll give you some tips on how to find your price in the market in the next section.

Photo Packages

If you pay attention to professional motorsport photographers, you’ll quickly work out each will have a group of customers that to cater for.

It’s really the only way to be able to cover all costs (particularly travel expenses) and turn a profit each race weekend. This is a livelihood, after all.

The easiest way to manage this is to offer photo packages.

What a photo package includes will vary greatly between photographers and each of their client’s needs. But that’s all part of building a relationship with each customer.

Some photographers will offer a strict limit on photos they include as part of their package.

I tend to be a little more flexible with mine, given that no two tracks are the same and there are a number of factors outside of my control that dictate how many photos can be captured during a race event.

At the end of the day, a photo package is about documenting the race weekend for your customer and providing a collection of images that best showcase their story from the event

How Should You Price Your Photo Packages?

Again, this isn’t a one-price-fits-all situation. What I have is a tiered pricing model based on different levels of motorsport.

If you are just starting out and covering a small club event at your local track, a $100 per package is a very fair price to deliver between 10-20 photos for a two-day race meeting with a couple of on track sessions (maybe two hours of on track running in total).

However, this price should not be transferred to a national stage or a large, high-profile event.

Progressing through the various levels of motorsport, images have further uses other than social media updates and keepsakes, which include press releases as well as supply to sponsors.

This needs to be factored into your pricing.

The best way to find out prices is to ask other photographers, and this can be done by building a rapport within the media centre. By developing a friendly relationship, an accurate or near enough answer should be forthcoming, which will ensure there isn’t a major undercut in price.

I could give you my pricing, but that’s not a universal answer. this blog is read by aspiring motorsport photographers from around the world, and my packages are not relevant to many potential customer bases of readers.

The best way to find a good price point is to gradually increase until clients push back. This
will give you a definitive answer as to what the value of your photo package is in the marketplace that you are serving.

You might lose a couple of sales in the process, but you will quickly work out what your best price point is.

Hourly/Day Rates

Hourly and Day rates are a little harder to manage in motorsport photography, especially during a race meeting with multiple customers.

You will find it is very uncommon for professional motorsport photographers to use this pricing model for race meetings, and if they do, it’s certainly not charged at an hourly rate.

If you are in the very fortunate position of being approached by a customer to work exclusively for them, be that for a race meeting, but more likely a sponsor ride day, manufacturer event or test/media day, then offering a day rate is your best option.

An hourly rate is too variable, and each day at the track is very different. You might plan to start early but get held up by fog, or the car might have issues that require a lengthy stop in the garage.

If your pricing is based specifically on an hourly rate, all the customer is thinking is the price racking up.

Instead, I stick with a day rate which just gives customers certainty of what the price is and gives you a little more flexibility if things don’t run smoothly.

How Should You Price Your Day Rates?

Your day rate should factor in the time spent at the venue, as well as the editing and delivery of images. Travel costs should also be considered since you are working exclusively with one customer.

If you are just starting out and have some basic photography gear, $300 is a reasonable day rate for a local track. This equates to $30 per hour for 10 hours to cover 7-8 hours at the track plus 2-3 hours to edit and deliver images.

Obviously, this is just a very conservative starting point, so as your skill improves and you invest in better, more professional gear, as well as refine your editing process, an increase can be considered.

Pricing yourself for these styles of track events with a day rate will give your customers peace of mind that they have a fixed cost, and it’s much easier for them to include that in their racing budgets for the year.

On another note, if your customer only needs a few hours, then a half-day rate is a perfectly acceptable middle ground.

Pro Tip: My half-day rate is usually 60-70% of my full-day rate because a half-day is never truly a half-day, and it is difficult to get two half-day bookings to line up perfectly on the same day.

At the end of the day, pricing your photography is all about finding your value point in the marketplace you are serving.

I know everyone wants to shoot Formula 1, IndyCar, WEC and those top levels of the sport, but start out with the local club events. Then, as you hone and develop your skills and as you grow, you can move your way up to high-level events with a refined offering and a proper understanding of the value you are offering.

Rhys Vandersyde

Rhys Vandersyde

I've been working as a motorsport photographer in Australia since 2012, building up my business InSyde Media. I am very fortunate that I have been able to work at all sorts of motorsport events including Supercars, F1 and WRC all over Australia and New Zealand. Also, check out my personal website where I document my travels and a few other things.

What Does A Typical Race Weekend Entail For A Motorsport Photographer?

What Does A Typical Race Weekend Entail For A Motorsport Photographer?

What Does A Typical Race Weekend Entail For A Motorsport Photographer?

As a motorsport photographer, a question I frequently field is what does a typical race weekend entail for me?

This is a hard question to answer as no weekend is exactly the same due to a variety of contributing factors, these include: the schedule, the number of clients, the circuit and many others.

On a regular weekend, the planning starts at least a week out by reaching out to customers that will be competing at the event, whilst also checking entry lists to check if other clients have secured another gig I wasn’t aware of.

Two days out from the event is usually a travel day to get to the venue if it’s not local.

Bump-in/set-up day is all about chatting to customers to catch up and ask if there are any special requirements or last-minute changes.

This day is also an opportunity to potentially gain new customers, which for me are mostly referrals. I don’t tend to harass people to buy photos.

Occasionally I’ll also do photoshoots. Things like livery launches, headshots, media calls etc. all usually happen onn that set-up/bump-in day.

On-track days usually have me at the circuit at least an hour before on track action starts (usually a couple of hours). How the day plays out after that really depends on the schedule, but if I’m not trackside I’m usually working on photos back in the media center and that goes on well into each night.

The Monday after is usually when I check everything and ensure customers have got everything they expected and I have met their brief. After that is usually a travel day back home.

How this eventuates depends on where the event is. On the long haul events or somewhere I’ve never been before, I do try to give myself a day off to reset/refresh and explore the places that host the events as a bit of a ‘weekend’.

Once back in the office there are still a number of jobs to do before a motorsport event is complete – invoicing, photo backups, moving old event images to archives (I usually have the past 6-8 events on portable storage with me), website updates and social media.

This makes a typical race weekend is roughly 7 full days of work.

As for accreditation, I typically get that sorted out at the start of the year with season passes, but if I need it for a bespoke event then I usually sort that out about two weeks out from an event. But this is dependent on each race weekend I attend as different promoters require separate accreditation.

What does a typical race weekend entail for a Motorsport Photographer?

How many photos will you take per event and how many make it to the client?

It varies depending on the circuit, event style and the number of categories/customers I have to cover at a particular event.

For example, the biggest event I shoot at is the Bathurst 1000. I usually have many customers across the variety of categories held across the weekend where I will personally shoot from 6000-8000 photos on each of the four days the event is held.

Prior to the on-track action, I will cover Tuesday and Wednesday set-up/bump in, so by the end of the weekend, I will have shot approximately 28,000 images.

At a more relaxed (or less high-profile) event at a smaller venue I will only shoot 3000-4000 photos depending on the number of customers. Approximately, this accounts for 12,000 images across a three-day event.

As for how many images are provided to a customer, a lot depends on factors outside of my control such as track length/lap time, red flags/on-track incidents, mechanical maladies or crashes

For drivers or teams it depends on the amount of laps completed and how many sessions their category is on track during the weekend. I aim to deliver variety as well as quantity, so in some instances I will provide 30-40 images, but in others 80-100.

Magazines and categories have varying specifics to meet in terms of photo amounts or requirements compared to driver/team arrangements.

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Rhys Vandersyde

Rhys Vandersyde

I've been working as a motorsport photographer in Australia since 2012, building up my business InSyde Media. I am very fortunate that I have been able to work at all sorts of motorsport events including Supercars, F1 and WRC all over Australia and New Zealand. Also, check out my personal website where I document my travels and a few other things.

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