Taking a great F1 shot with Darren Heath
Darren Heath, whose images of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team in action feature on McLaren.com after every grand prix, has been photographing Formula 1 for 23 years and is regarded as one of the finest sports photographers in the world.
As he got ready for the Santander British Grand Prix he talked to us about what makes a great shot and why the new Silverstone complex should result in some stunning images at the weekend.
Darren Heath bio
First professionally photographed GP: 1988
Average number of shots per race: 2000
Favourite GPs: Monza, Monaco, Sepang, Montreal
Camera: 2x Canon EOS1DS Mk3, range of lenses
Essentials: Camera gear and earplugs!
McLaren.com: What makes a good sports photograph?
Darren Heath: I’d say a good sports photograph is one that people want to look at and has impact. It must also capture the moment, such as a car launching over some high kerbs and be saleable, of course.
McLaren.com: Do good shots just come easy, or are they difficult to take?
DH: A good shot doesn’t necessarily come easily, but it has to come naturally. You need to get yourself in the right position beforehand – you need to go to a place where you think something dramatic will happen, or where there’s beautiful light.
McLaren.com: How does sports photography differ from other kinds of photography?
DH: Sports photography is all about capturing the moment – it’s paramount to show emotions and tell the story of a sporting event. The fundamentals of sports photography are the same as other photography though – the rule of thirds, composition and light.
You use the same skill set as in other photography, but you need to respond to action as it happens rather than having a set to shoot on for example.
McLaren.com: Why did you choose to photograph Formula 1 over other sports?
DH: To be honest photographing Formula 1 is all I’ve ever wanted to do – I became interested in motorsport and photography roughly at the same time. I decided to see if I could merge the two passions together and here I am today!
McLaren.com: Why is Silverstone such a great place to photograph?
DH: To be fair it's much better now than ever it was. The new 'Wing' building adds a photo feature to the place and the 'Farm' corner complex works too with the added bonus that it's early in the lap so works for the first lap providing overtaking opportunities. The first corner is very quick and exciting too. Big skies can really work here too looking almost American mid-west in scale.