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

by Aug 29, 2021

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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