CHAM­PI­ONS! AS­TON’S WEC YEAR IN PICS

Stun­ning images from the lens of team pho­tog­ra­pher Drew Gib­son

VANTAGE - - Contents - IN­TER­VIEW RICHARD MEADEN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY DREW GIB­SON

I FIRST STARTED WORK­ING with AMR in 2009. Work­ing with a team for so long means I’m part of the garage fur­ni­ture now, so the driv­ers, me­chan­ics and man­age­ment trust me and know how I work. Oc­ca­sion­ally the guys will pause when I’m fram­ing a shot, which makes my life eas­ier. See­ing how hard they work makes me want to raise my game; to get the best shots I can.

Most WEC rounds fol­low the same rou­tine. I fly out early to get a full day at the track be­fore the ac­tion starts. I might shoot the cars go­ing through scru­ti­neer­ing, driver por­traits, spon­sor shots, etc. It’s also a chance to walk the track and see whether any favourite spots have changed or ac­cess points been blocked.

Fri­day is one of the busiest days. We get to the track at 8am and maybe leave at mid­night. Sat­ur­day is slightly more re­laxed – an hour in the morn­ing for prac­tice, then qual­i­fy­ing in the af­ter­noon. If the team gets pole, then there’s a press con­fer­ence to shoot. If there’s time, we’ll use the evening light to get some team shots.

Sun­day is race day, so an­other early start with au­to­graph ses­sions prior to pre-race prep. The at­mos­phere is more tense, and you have to wear fire­proof over­alls if you want to shoot in the pits. Some­where like Austin, where it’s 35deg and 90 per cent hu­mid­ity, that’s hot work! I make a dash to the me­dia cen­tre dur­ing the race so the team can put a few images on so­cial me­dia. Then it’s back to the ac­tion, hope­fully podium shots, then turn­ing the pri­or­ity pics around be­fore the flight home on Mon­day.

Dif­fer­ent tracks of­fer dif­fer­ent op­por­tu­ni­ties. Bahrain’s a favourite be­cause of the spec­tac­u­lar sun­sets. Le Mans is a ball-ache, but it has a unique at­mos­phere and spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance. I was lucky to shoot for both AMR and Ford in 2016. It’s spe­cial to think I was tak­ing shots peo­ple will look back on in 50 years. Fuji has lots of photo win­dows, but they aren’t where I’d want them! Gen­er­ally I don’t want to go where every­one else does. For me it’s al­ways show­ing the at­mos­phere, the mood and emo­tion. Not just what’s be­fore your eyes.

Equip­ment-wise, I have two cam­era bod­ies, fit­ted with dif­fer­ent lenses (one wide-an­gle, one more generic) to al­low me some flex­i­bil­ity. It’s also good to have one body as a back-up, as racing is a harsh en­vi­ron­ment. My core kit com­prises six fixed-fo­cus lenses, from 14mm to 600mm. Fixed-fo­cus are nicer qual­ity and suit the way I work. They force me to com­mit to a shot. I move to the best po­si­tion, not zoom in and out. All in, it’s about £35k-worth and weighs 30kg!

I take about 3000 pic­tures across a typ­i­cal WEC race week­end. At Le Mans I might take 10,000 images. The lat­est cam­eras have such a mas­sive burst-rate you can shoot 18 frames per sec­ond. It’s like fir­ing a ma­chine gun!

I would love to have done some of the crazy Group B era ral­lies. Targa Flo­rio, too. And ’90s ral­ly­ing: I’d have loved to shoot Sainz and Mcrae and Burns. That said, I’m not nos­tal­gic. I look for­ward to shoot­ing events I’ve never at­tended be­fore. Dakar. Bathurst. Day­tona. My head is filled with shots I’ve yet to take.

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