Part 1: On track. Mazda Motorsports’ photographer Alison Arena offers tips for better racing photos
The teams and drivers in professional racing have access to many things that club racers don’t, and one of those is professional photographers to document their event and season. While photographers are often shooting club racing events – and drivers should take advantage of their services as they will usually have access to get better photos than others – they are not always available, or they may not shoot your session. Fortunately, photography is much more accessible than it once was, and there are some things you can do to get better photos at the track, both of cars in action and in the paddock.
Alison Arena is Mazda’s official photographer. She’ll spend many weekends a year shooting at IMSA, Mazda Road to Indy and Battery Tender Global Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires events, among others. She’s not only shooting the cars on track, but the drivers, mechanics and engineers as they go about their business during the course of a race weekend. Her years of honing her craft has taught her many things, and she’s happy to share tips with club racers.
“A big part of taking pictures of race cars is capturing the movement of the cars in your camera,” she explains. “While there’s the technical side of it, which is having your shutter speed slow enough so that you can see the movement, a lot of it is basically what you can do even without a camera. That’s where you should start – just watch with your eyes, track the car as it goes by you. You can kind of see how the background blurs out, and you’re going to try to mimic that with your camera. I don’t think enough people do that; they just want to freeze the car, but that doesn’t really show what racing is. Racing is about fast-moving objects.”