The latest Driving Images interview is with USA based motorsport shooter, Mark Scheuern. If you’re a fan of IndyCar, ALMS or the American historic racing scene, you’ll have seen his work. Here’s what he had to say about shooting cars.
How long have you been a photographer and have you always been a car shooter?
“I’ve loved photography ever since an aunt gave me a camera at age seven. I still have that camera. Then came college and work not involving photography. But being made redundant gave me an opportunity to pursue photography more seriously. That was about seven years ago.”
Are you a staff photographer or freelance?
What’s in your bag?
“Nikon gear with a variety of lenses.”
Favourite gadget or piece of equipment?
“I’d say my 70-200 f/2.8 is probably one of my most used pieces of equipment. I think if I went to a race and forgot my other lenses, I probably could get by okay with just that. I also love my Nikon Speedlights and have been doing more work with lighting these days.”
Are you an in-the-camera shooter or do you use post production a lot?
“Mostly in-the-camera. I like to get it right and don’t have the “I can fix this later with Photoshop” attitude. That’s not to say I don’t do some post-processing but it’s not a way to rescue poor work.”
What’s your post production workflow?
“I shoot almost entirely RAW these days. Adobe Lightroom has allowed me to do that. Shooting RAW basically takes no more time than JPEG. I do the RAW conversion and the vast majority of post-processing with Lightroom and export the final files from there. If a file requires additional work that I can’t do in Lightroom—which has become increasingly rare thanks to the ability to do dodging, burning, and other local changes with adjustment brushes in the latest versions of lightroom—I export a 16-bit TIFF and work with that in Photoshop. I also keyword and caption in Lightroom. Some clients have very specific metafile requirements so I set up templates to be able to do that easily.”
Car editorial is under pressure from many directions right now and car advertising budgets are being cut. What are your views on the future of car photography, CGI, video etc?
“Yes, it’s rough out there. Editorial budgets are being cut, too, but of course CGI has had much less of an impact there. But I think there will always be a place for people who can shoot cars. It’s a difficult specialty.”
Are you shooting any video yet or do you plan to?
“I’m looking into video but I haven’t done any in a serious way.”
What particular type of car photography you’re engaged in. EG editorial, advertising, motorsport etc
“Mainly motorsport. I shot the CART/Champ Car series for a number of years and miss it. It was a great series to shoot and quite photographer-friendly. I’m presently doing IndyCar, American Le Mans, Grand-Am, vintage, and NASCAR. I enjoy doing feature shoots for magazines as well and have been stepping that up more lately.”
Photo editors never seem to run with our favourite shots, so here’s your chance. What four portfolio shots do you particularly like, why and how did you shoot them?
I wouldn’t say these four shots are necessarily my best but I like them for various reasons. As much as I like doing on-track work, I think I enjoy doing the people shots even more. Things are very hectic in the pitlane and it’s a challenge to get good, clean shots that tell the story.
The shot of de Ferran in the Acura is at turn two at Road America. I always enjoy that track and there are so many good shooting locations it’s hard to get to them all even given three days.
As for the Ford GT at Mid-Ohio—I don’t know! I like the car, I like the crowd and the trees… . Ask me tomorrow and I’ll come up with a completely different set of four shots.
Lots of car photographers aren’t always into cars. Are you a petrol head and what are you driving right now? Advice for car photographers?
“I can’t understand how someone could shoot cars without loving them. I’m a huge petrol head. I currently have a nicely modded 2005 MINI Cooper S, a 2004 Mazdaspeed MX-5, and an old Saab 900 as my daily driver. Lately, I’ve become completely hooked on iRacing. It’s just too much fun.
My advice to car photographers is to shoot cars! Keep practicing and always think about what you can do better. There’s a strong physical aspect to motorsports work in particular, with timing and being able to pan being important skills and that takes a lot of practice. Think about ways you can tell the story of an event and look for something different. It can be very tempting to run around with a pack of photographers shooting everything they shoot but try to find something different. Kneel down. Get up high. Turn around. And look at other people’s work and think about what you like and why.”