“Behind every swipe and like, there’s photograph. Behind every photograph, there’s a story to be told.”
In the world of racing, everyone relies on photos. The various series’ need them to show who won the race and promote themselves for next year. The teams need them for press releases. The drivers want them for their sponsors. But behind those photographs, there are people. People like myself, who make a living chasing race cars around the world with cameras. There are no days off. There is no rest during a race. There is no trophy or champagne at the end for us. Just more editing, and the next race weekend to plan for and find clients for.
This journey now called FRAMES started in November 2016. A videographer/producer in Charlotte pitched me an idea. His pitch was that my job is like no other and that it might make for an interesting documentary series. Producing a video of any length takes significant financial investment, time and strategy. We decided to do a Kickstarter to help us fund the project and produce a pilot episode as an idea for a future series. The project was fully funded in less than 18 hours thanks to 58 very special backers. We had the money to move forward. Now we just needed a race to shoot and film. We tried to film this at the Daytona 24 (2017). It would have been perfect. 18 hours of rain, a good friend won, an endlessly busy day of photography. But the powers that be said, and I quote, “no one will watch this. No one is interested in how the sausage is made.” Despite having legitimate credentials from multiple editorial outlets who ensured us they would not only publish it, but they would support it in any way they could, and had financial investment from several photography related sponsors and supporting companies, they still refused us permission to film. This clearly wasn’t just a pet project. But the series and track still said no. Daytona 24 was not going to be something they want filmed from this angle. It was a similar story for the Sebring 12 hour race a month later.
At this point we needed to regroup and re-evaluate. With the help of friends in the racing community, it was suggested to try at the TOTAL 24 hours of Spa in Belgium. Spa is a place I’d never been, which added another interesting angle to the story. We were given permission to move forward with Spa 24 from the friendly staff at SRO. It all looked good for finally getting this filmed, but 3 weeks before the race, FRAMES’ original producer backed out of the project entirely. Without a videographer and producer, and someone I trusted to stand next to me while we stayed awake for nearly 40 hours, I was left feeling angry and just plain sick and tired of the entire idea of filming this.
Foster Peters, a friend and Atlanta based videographer and producer offered to step in and fill the shoes left by the outgoing producer. Fosters’ biggest selling point for me was his talent behind the camera, but also his experience covering racing. Covering a 24 hour race is nothing short of grueling on your body and mind. Foster has shot as many 24 hours as I have. I knew I could count on him not to emotionally break or snap under the stress or exhaustion. We booked him a ticket, changed the name on the Spa 24 video credential, and off we went to Belgium!
Here we are, 10 months later with a finished product for you to watch. It certainly took longer than I wanted it to be to cut, edited and polished. But that’s to be expected with two people who have full time work outside of this project. This remains something that I’m still very proud of. It was a rollercoaster ride of emotions from start to finish. FRAMES was never intended to be a blueprint for how to be a motorsport photographer or how to take pictures of race cars. I’m sure more than a few people will be disappointed it isn’t either of those. But what I DO hope is that it gives people a glimpse into the world that many of my colleagues and I live, and that you might think about the work behind the images you see and share on a daily basis.
This is Chapter 1 of FRAMES from the TOTAL 24 hours of Spa. Follow us for more content and future chapters on social media @framesdoc.
Watch the first episode of FRAMES (above) then enjoy some of my favorite images from an incredible race week.