This year I was fortunate to cover my seventh Formula 1 United States Grant Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. It's truly amazing to witness the growth the sport has experienced in the United States due in no small part to the Netflix series "Drive to Survive." My first year covering the event was 2015, and were it not for booking Taylor Swift to perform during the Grand Prix in 2016, that could've been the final race in Austin. Instead this year we enjoyed an all-time weekend attendance record for an F1 race weekend.
After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was fortunate to return to Austin to cover the 2021 Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix for my friends at Texas Highways magazine. With a number of health and safety restrictions in place, it was somewhat of a different beast covering the race this year versus the prior five F1 races I've covered in Austin but it provided for some forced creativity throughout the proceedings.
I've addressed this before—this being why someone who often photographs families and weddings would photograph motorsports—and some of it is practicing a genre of photography that is outside my norm, which in the simplest terms helps me fight any burnout I might experience. Variety is the spice of life after all. Secondly, there is value in photographing an event where I have absolutely no control over how things proceed, can't stage anything, and can't get a do-over. And finally, it helps hone my culling and editing, as I need to go through thousands of images more or less as I am taking them, edit my selects, write captions, and turn them over to an editor within 72 hours.
Every time I find myself at Circuit of the Americas outside Austin, Texas I mentally pinch myself. Mentally because if I were to walk around physically pinching myself that'd just be weird. This past November I had the opportunity to cover my fifth Formula 1 United States Grand Prix for the team at Texas Highways—the official travel magazine of Texas—and I truly can't thank them enough.
When I photographed my first race back in 2015, if I'm being totally honest, I just barely deserved to be there. It isn't that I didn't get some shots that I really, really like, and I was fortunate that my instincts partially gained from photographing weddings and live music events placed me in the right spot at the right time for the podium ceremony where Lewis Hamilton secured his—at the time—third drivers championship, but I just didn't really know what I was doing. I generally had a sense of the format of a Grand Prix weekend, but I didn't follow the sport at the time. Which I suppose meant I was no better or worse off than your typical American when it comes to Formula 1, but still. It also didn't help that Central Texas experienced some truly severe weather that weekend which scuttled basically an entire day of racing and the subsequent photography of said racing.
Fast forward to this year, and Lewis Hamilton secured his sixth driver championship in Austin, and I was very much aware of that storyline—and all of the storylines—of the 2019 season. I'm now the kind of fan that subscribes to the sports streaming service where I can watch every practice session, every qualifying session, and every race live if I choose—or should I say if I can stay up late or get up super early to watch races live that are taking place on the other side of the world.
When working on an editorial assignment for a magazine covering a sporting event, it really helps me hone my skills in quickly culling and editing photos, and turning them around into something of a narrative—if just barely—and publishing them. Going through over six thousand photos from four days, and culling those down to a manageable slideshow number, and writing captions, and having it all ready to go no later than the day following the race is a heck of a skill set to have when I am trying to turn around wedding photos or family portraits, and really helps me provide those photos to my clients more quickly than many other wedding and family photographers.
With all of that said, enjoy some outtakes that simply wouldn't fit in the published gallery over at Texas Highways. And if you've never followed Formula 1, or only done so casually, maybe this will help change your mind and turn you into the superfan I've become.
While it doesn't happen at every race, it sure seems like the purpose-built Formula 1 track has a knack for being the setting for history-making events of varying degrees (see Kimi Raikonnen's winning drive at the 2018 F1 United States Grand Prix.) The IndyCar Classic was no exception, with Colton Herta taking the checkered flag, and becoming the youngest race-winning driver in IndyCar Series history at age 18.
When I first pitched the idea of doing a photo essay of this years' Lone Star Le Mans at Circuit of the Americas for my colleagues at Texas Highways magazine, I didn't realize the World Endurance Championship wouldn't be returning to Austin in the foreseeable future. Which I won't lie is a bit of a bummer.
I also didn't realize that there wouldn't be any evening racing, and I'd really hoped to capture the track at night. Double whammy!
But capture the event I did, and I'm really glad I had the opportunity. It was a really neat experience and its a shame that more people didn't attend. The amount of access to the cars, the teams, the drivers, and parts of the facility were truly amazing. And while having media credentials did allow me to shoot trackside which I couldn't have done otherwise, I didn't need it to get up close to the paddock area, the garages, anything really.
These are just a handful of the images, you can view the whole gallery over at Texas Highways.
I'd previously been out to Circuit of the Americas to cover Formula 1 twice but had never attended a MotoGP race. That all changed this year with the opportunity to cover the 2017 Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas for Texas Highways magazine. It was a really great experience, with its own minor quirks and challenges shooting it that differed from covering Formula 1 (beyond the obvious differences of course). For additional photos check out the full photo essay.
This year I was fortunate to once again shoot the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas for Texas Highways magazine. In addition to the race festivities, I was also able to secure accreditation for Taylor Swift's sole performance of 2016 following Saturday's qualifying race. And while it may sound crazy, I think there is a lot of overlap between the skills involved in shooting such a large motorsport event and music performance and wedding photography. You're constantly on the move and dealing with sometimes limited vantage points from which to get just the shot your looking for which really forces you to get creative.
Below you'll find only a handful of images from the event, so if you're into F1 and/or Taylor Swift be sure to check out the full photo series.
Last week I had the pleasure of covering SXSW for my day job at Texas Highways magazine. This happened to also include the opportunity to cover First Lady Michelle Obama's panel about the Let Girls Learn initiative with Sophia Bush, Missy Elliott, and Diane Warren moderated by Queen Latifah. It was an inspiring panel, made doubly so for me as the father of a little girl who is in such a hurry to grow up into a world that is not always inviting and welcoming to women. #letgirlslearn #62milliongirls