Larger Than Life
I watch every MotoGP race, those I don’t attend as a photographer and those that don’t make it onto my travel schedule. I watch the races I don’t go to partially for enjoyment and partially because I want to know what has happened when I return to the paddock. The races I photograph I watch later because from trackside I never get the whole story of a race. I see only a section of each lap. It’s like getting through a novel by reading every 20th page. You can make it to the end, but you’ve missed a lot of the details.
This image is a result of watching TV. At some point it occurred to me that the way riders often examine the rear tire when they come back to the garage might be a good photo opportunity. If I could get the camera down somewhere near the tire, it would look like the rider was looking right at the lens.
As I imagined the image I might create with this strategy, I had another idea of how to tell a bit more of the Valentino Rossi story. Most of us have heard the expression larger than life. If any MotoGP rider is larger than life, it’s Valentino Rossi.
But how do you show that part of his personality, his place in the sport, of his story, in a still image? I think shooting this exact moment from this perspective might answer that question.
It took many tries to get the image above. Most of the early efforts were ruined by one or more of several things happening.
1. Pit lane was too crowded to get my camera into the position I wanted. With the growing exception of Marc Marquez, no garage is more crowded than Rossi’s when he is in the box preparing to emerge. it’s pretty to get open space around him in pit lane.
2. Pit lane was too crowded to get a clean image, i.e. there were too many people moving around to isolate the rider as subject.
3. The rider looked at the rear tire, but didn’t look in a way that complimented where I had the camera placed.
4. The rider wouldn’t look at the rear tire at all, but just walked past me. This led to other interesting images, but not the one I was after.
Eventually I got the image I’d imagined, and it turned out even better than I’d hoped. Rossi towers in this image like a giant. If there were other people in the image, the illusion of him being so tall would be lost.
It’s important to keep your eyes open for photo ideas even when you aren’t working with the camera. Sometimes a different perspective, even one from the sofa in the TV room, can lead to a good image by suggesting a different approach.
It’s also important to keep trying when you think the potential is there for a good image. You’ll probably learn some things in the trying even if those shots don’t hit the target you’re aiming at. And sometimes a lot of trying makes the result that much more rewarding than a getting lucky shot.