Le Mans’ Best Friend

Le Mans’ Best Friend

I was at the Le Mans 24 race this weekend. It was a trek first from Manchester to Upminster to rendezvous with the group, then to Folkestone for the Eurostar, and a 4hr drive across France to the campsite near the circuit.

LeMans001Unsurprisingly I always take a camera away with me on trips. I do try and limit the amount of gear though. After 8 years I’ve found that carrying 5kg of lenses on one shoulder might give you the most versatility for pictures, but it’ll dent your holiday feelings too. I settled on one lens – a fixed 50mm – and left it at that. Since I’d be camping, and would probably get to mingle with some characters, I decided last minute to put a Profoto B1 and 2×2 gridded softbox in the boot, just in case.


I noticed on the first day how unusual it was seeing these extraordinary cars surrounded by mundane campsite activities. I was told that one picture I missed was a man spreading butter on a crumpet next to a black Lamborghini Murcielago. On the morning of the second day, several hours before the race was due to finish, I took my one lens and flash around the campsite to see who I could talk into having their portrait taken with their extraordinary car – and my one rule was to not change anything fundamental to the scene.

Perhaps naively, I thought I may have to twist some arms. But car enthusiasts Рespecially those on the Pistonheads enclosure where I was roaming Рlike nothing more than people paying attention to their motors. What I also noticed, and wanted to much to illustrate, was how  visually appropriate to their cars the drivers often were!

LeMans004 LeMans005
The technical setup for the picture was the same in each case – capture the car full length, and use my one flash to pick out the human element.

I’ve hinted at this in my title – these owners are truly friends with their cars, and for the duration of Le Mans 24hr they live in them and alongside them, dry their towels on them, pitch tents off the side of them, talk endlessly about them and at times rancorously defend them.LeMans007Shooting this was a lot of fun. If you’re in these pictures – thanks for helping me out.


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