With my family's relocation to Florida last year, my time between the 2008 and 2009 racing season offered a lot more photographic opportunities than I previously experienced in Michigan. Certainly the weather is far more conducive, but the outcome of that one simple fundamental change is opportunity. I guess the phrase, "location, location, location" has a certain element of truth about it.
In addition, I took on the conscious decision of working with a unique camera and entirely different subjects. If you've followed along with my postings, you'll know of my new found joy of shooting with the Leica Digilux 2. Coupled with opportunity, locations, subjects and light, I feel I was able to learn and improve my photography through the effort.
Specifically, I worked on close up and candid portraits (much to poor Marlon's chagrin), scenics, sunsets, a little wildlife and more. My hope was that between the camera's analog controls and variety of subject matter, I would learn things that were applicable to my motorsports work when the season rolled around.
So, this past week 10 days shooting the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the American Le Mans Winter Test at Sebring presented the perfect opportunity to put into practice some of the things I learned during the winter.
While my "hard goal" is to always work to improve, one of my "soft goals" was to make a mental adjustment in how I approach "the shoot." In other words, my view of the entire weeks shooting of an event. I feel I've been guilty of spending too much time with on-track action and not enough time shooting background and environmental subject matter.
Rick Dole is a photographer who's work I admire tremendously. More than the quality of his images though, I marvel at his ability to capture the flavor of the entire event and the manner in which he imposes his own sense of irony into his pictures. There's a certain sense of humor that adds to the story and offers a much more complete view of his presentation of an event.
I want to do more of that. I want to see more than just a race or race cars and I want to report that story in my coverage of an event.
To help reach my goal, I decided to shoot with the Leica in and around the paddock and pit lane. I also used it to cover some of the media announcements and press conferences. For obvious reasons I relied on my Canon gear for important assignments, but whenever the opportunity presented itself, I tried to put the Leica (and the associated shooting style) into my workflow.
On the downside, this meant using it in less than ideal conditions like indoor or mid-day (which is usually when I'll stay away from the track and roam the pits or paddock).
I was fairly pleased with the results, but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that it wasn't the same as taking a leisurely stroll down a nature trail or shooting a sunset at the beach. Things (and people) move fast at the races... and spinning the analog dials or waiting for the autofocus of the Leica makes things rather challenging.
But that's ok. I still feel that the mindset required to shoot with the Leica is a skill and will ultimately pay off. It is not my goal to shoot my work with this camera... but more to shoot this style with my work cameras. I believe that shooting with Leica provides a look and a feel that I can ultimately emulate with my work gear.
I believe that is already happening. I captured several shots at the Rolex that fit the bill to what I'm trying to accomplish. I think it's a matter of "seeing" that style of photo BEFORE you bring the camera up to your eye. I'm guessing it's like gourmet food... how could you possible prepare gourmet dishes if you had no idea what they were supposed to taste like?
So the work continues... hopefully the progress will start to show up in my pictures and ultimately my overall shooting style.
Thanks for listening....