Motorsport Racing Photographer Interview
Name: Jonny Henchman
Favourite Car: It’s got to be the Ferrari F40, a beautiful piece of iconic automotive machinery
Favorite Sports: Well outside of motorsport, I love to watch the creativity going on in extreme sports. Things like BMX, Skateboarding, MotoX, Snowboarding, Skiing etc. It’s amazing to see the skill and lengths the athletes will go to push the envelope and progress the sport.
Favorite Racedrivers: Brazil’s Felipe Massa is my current favourite, so much respect for the way he’s dealt with the challenges he’s faced. He’s a genuinely likeable guy too, which seems to be a rare thing with all the egos in Formula One.
How did you get into Motorsport photography? I grew up 5 minutes away from Silverstone, the UK’s biggest motorsport circuit. I spent my childhood going up to the track to watch the various different racing series and it’s sort of stuck with me ever since. I always liked to draw cars as a kid, sadly I wasn’t that good at it, so when photography became a bit more affordable I jumped at the chance to make pictures that were a better reflection of reality than my previous artistic attempts.
What type of camera do you use most? My workhorse is a Canon 5D mark iii DSLR, this is my go to camera for track photography. I’ll keep a compact and an iPhone in my pocket while out on a shoot but they are strictly for emergencies only.
What is your favourite lens? I don’t really have a favourite lens, it all depends on what I’m shooting and what kind of image I want to achieve. The best lens you have is the one you have on the camera when the moment comes, you just have to make the most of each opportunity with what you have.
At what point did you know Motorsport/Racing photography was going to be more than just a hobby for you? Motorsport photography has always been something I’ve done simply because I enjoy it. I’ve got a long way to go before I can give up the day job and I’ll always have more to learn. I guess the point where I realised I was getting better at it was when people who tend not to have an interest in motorsport started to comment on how much they liked looking at my images.
What for you is the most enjoyable part of motorsport photography? There’s a definite rush that comes from getting up close and personal to racing cars tearing past you at 200mph that you just don’t get as a spectator behind the fence. The sheer speed and the skill of the drivers doesn’t really hit home until you’re right next to it. For some photographers its the freedom of access and others, the glamour of rubbing shoulders with superstars, for me though the biggest part is being able to show people what motor sport is to me through pictures.
Could you give some Racing photography tips? The best advice I can give to people wanting to get into motorsport photography is to go and shoot it as a spectator, a lot. There’s so much information online about the techniques but practice is the most important bit. Don’t get stuck thinking you can’t take a great photograph through the catch fences either… we’ve all been there and plenty of the very best motorsport images I’ve ever seen have been taken from spectator sections. Find other photographers that produce inspiring images and try and deconstruct their thought process and apply it to your own work while you’re learning, this will help you to understand what goes into making a picture successful . Don’t be afraid of criticism either, its how you learn – but choose which bits of advice to take to heart and act on, not everyone who tells you what you should do to improve is qualified to do so.
What do you think you would want to be if you weren’t a Racedriver/ Motorsport/Racing Photographer? I’m a graphic designer by trade, so i’d still be doing that.
Describe your best experience? I’ve been very lucky to have experienced a lot of great things in my short time as a motorsport photographer. Perhaps my most memorable moment so far came at the end of 2015 where I had the opportunity to shoot the Race of Champions in 2015 in London’s Olympic stadium. For those of you that don’t know, the Race of Champions happens once a year and involves the best drivers and riders from loads of different series competing against each other head to head in different vehicles on a temporary track. Walking out to the middle of the stadium in front of thousands of cheering fans to shoot Sebastian Vettel, Tom Kristensen and Petter Solberg on the podium was definitely a crazy experience that I’ll never forget.
Who are the sportsmen or sportswoman’s you admire the most? Alex Zanardi, without a doubt. To go from being a successful racing driver to having a horrific accident (resulting in the loss of both of his legs) to achieving multiple Paralympic Gold medals in hand cycling – the guy’s drive is absolutely incredible, a real hero!
What do you want your viewers to take away from your work? The goal for my motorsport photography has always been to try and illustrate my passion for the sport, if I can inspire interest in racinging through my images then I have achieved that goal.It’s great when I receive comments from motorsport fans, but when I can ignite that spark in people who have never been interested in this sport then its really special.