Photography by Antoine Spignardo
Having shot a constantly-growing number of races, I can say it becomes easy to grow used to the benefits of shooting trackside as cars rip past at more than one hundred miles-per-hour. Media credentials put you just inches from the track, separated by often little more than a waist-height k-rail. When the cars are off the tarmac and the track is cold, credentials earn access to places in which the public is rarely allowed, from in the pits to team garages. Few things are off limits, and for a photographer, it’s a dream come true. It makes it possible to capture the moment, and to offer others a look they may otherwise never see. Credentials allow a photographer to capture anything they can dream up – so how far can one get without them?
At this point, I’d find it tough to stomach a lack of media credentials. “It’s not even worth going” comes to mind. When access to everything is on the table, it becomes a personal challenge to impose such restrictions and still keep an open mind. On the other hand, there’s a saying that rings quite true: ignorance is bliss. Antoine Spignardo approached things from an opposite perspective, and the outcome is nothing short of beautiful.
Without credentials or any special access, Antoine wandered the waterfront streets of downtown St Petersburg, Florida, where the St Petersburg Grand Prix has been held since 1985. The race began with SCCA’s Trans Am series, followed by IMSA, CART, and now IndyCar. With the IndyCars this year are a few other series, most notably the Pirelli World Challenge. The race weekend makes for a field of exciting cars, also mixed in with the SPEED Energy Formula Off Road Series, Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, and the USF2000 Championship.
Antoine spent the day shooting through fences, across barriers, and through crowds, highlighting the details others are sure to have missed. He used every opportunity presented to him – the same presented to any other race fans, and captured imagery that undoubtedly holds its own. Antoine’s photo set is a great refresher and reminder that it’s not all about access, opportunity, and “who you know” – instead, it’s about what you see, and what you’re able to take away from what others may have missed. There’s no question that the average race-goer didn’t see things quite like Antoine did – and its our job as photographers to seize that very fact.
With that, we push all of our photographically-inclined fans, both professional and aspiring, to head to the track and see what you’re able to capture. There are few better ways to spend a day than to mix cars, cameras, and racing – and with a bit of imagination, and pulling the right inspiration, you’ll capture everything that makes race day so special.
For us here at SW, raceday is just around the corner, with Formula Drift just days away, and the Long Beach Grand Prix following the weekend after. Bring your camera along and join us. See what you can capture from the sidelines.