How Photographer Jamey Price Captured the Miami F1 Grand Prix

Formula 1 is experiencing a revival in the USA. The pinnacle of motorsport has just wrapped up a sweaty weekend in Florida with the debut of its latest star-studded circuit. The melting pot of sunburnt and celebrity guests from the paddock to the fake marina had an absolutely nuclear energy.

JamesPricecar and driver

The 3.36-mile street course, built in the parking lot of Miami’s Dolphin’s Hard Rock Stadium, has 19 turns and a super-long straight section where cars reached speeds of up to 214 mph on race day. It is the first F1 race in Florida since the Sebring Grand Prix in 1959. That year Miami joined the Circuit of the Americas in Texas as the only US track currently on the international F1 schedule. A third race will be added next year once the high-speed road course along the Las Vegas Strip is built for November 2023.

Jamey Price was named 2019 Motorsports Photographer of the Year by the National Motorsports Press Association. Price has his camera trained on racing events such as the Nurburgring 24 Hours, the Kentucky Derby and series such as MotoGP, World Endurance Championship, IMSA, NASCAR and over 35 Formula 1 races.

JamesPricecar and driver

Celebrities flocked to the port like seagulls for this event. The paddock saw guests like first lady Michelle Obama, NBA legend Michael Jordan, and for a few minutes David Beckham juggled a soccer ball with Ferrari driver Charles LeClerc, doing his best not to scratch the soccer champ’s cream suit.

We asked professional motorsport photographer Jamey Price what Miami F1 looks like from his side of the lens. Price has been professionally capturing the motorsport world since 2008. A celebrity of sorts among budding photographers who, like Price, became a cameraman to get closer to the racetrack. We sat down with Price between the race in Miami and his flight home to Charlotte, North Carolina. Price, who told us he took over 792 gigabytes of pictures this weekend, was still trying to rehydrate.

CD: Who did you shoot for?

Price: Some of my images are used by Alpine F1 and some of my images are used by Rolex, but my biggest clients have been racing in the Porsche Sprint Challenge support series. I also photographed for Multimatic, who supply suspension parts for Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri. It ended up being very busy editing both series.

How do you know where to photograph at a track that didn’t exist until a few weeks ago?

The trick is to go the course against the direction of the race. You need to see what the car looks like as it comes towards you. As you walk the track you get a sense of how close the walls, the racing line and the photo holes are. You can study onboards and simulations of cars on the track for as long as you like, but you won’t get enough of it until you get to the ground and walk on it. Sometimes you get there with a plan, and then maybe the light or the background doesn’t work, so you discard that plan and adjust accordingly.

photo holes?

If you look closely at parts of the course, they remove parts of the fence for us to stick our lenses through. You can shoot through a fence, but depending on what you’re trying to capture, this can get in the way.

JamesPricecar and driver

When you’re under pressure to shoot a new spread, is your technique methodical rather than experimental?

It’s important to get the basic shots done, much like the boring version, but you still want to try the creative stuff. A few years ago, Formula 1 reduced their practice time to an hour at a time, which sounds like a lot, but you sacrifice a lot of practice when moving between the most interesting places in Miami. The road can be too far to be worth it.

Did the Miami GP layout offer enough opportunities for creative shooting?

There is definitely room for improvement, which goes for every new track. As it matures and ages as an event, the photographers may suggest areas for more photo holes or access. There are so many places I would have loved to photograph but just couldn’t get to.

Does your gear change between events like Formula 1 and the Kentucky Derby?

I’m keeping it right now. It doesn’t matter if I’m shooting IMSA, NFL or F1, I like to use the same gear no matter where I travel, even if I end up never using it, at least I have it with me when I do.

Did you record your steps?

I ran about 36 miles Thursday through Sunday. I hardly ever used the photo shuttle so it mostly went under the scorching Miami heat. It was like 22,000 steps a day or so.

JamesPricecar and driver

What was your favorite part of the Miami Grand Prix?

From what I felt and saw on the floor, there was a lot of great energy. I’ve never seen the paddock so busy. It was just wild. VIPs, media, teams. While the race wasn’t great, the event itself was truly spectacular. On any street circuit, the proximity to the cars is just crazy. At certain points they are only a few centimeters away from you.

The paddock was a bit like a Met Gala at times with the number of celebrities. what were you wearing

A bunch of sunscreen. Two cameras, each with a lens. And a fanny pack with more lenses and some of those recyclable aluminum water bottles to keep me cool. I usually wear a long sleeve fishing vest with lots of pockets.

What were your favorite weapons out there?

Brand is irrelevant as we all use the same type of gear. My two main bodies are full-frame sports cameras. As for optics, my 500mm F4 lens makes small cars look nice and close at long range. I shoot most of my shots with a 70-200mm F2.8 and 24-70mm F2.8.

Any overheating issues?

Mine didn’t, but a friend’s camera overheated and stopped working. Hopefully it will be a little cooler next year.

How many gigabytes of images were shot?

792 gigabytes. I immediately upload the photos to a hard drive, then that hard drive is backed up to the cloud again, and later backed up to another hard drive.

Are you and your pro photo friends saying Gigglebytes for fun instead?

dude, seriously?

JamesPricecar and driver

Was there a shot you didn’t get?

Not really. I usually research what other photographers got from the weekend to see if I missed any angles or areas, but aside from a few corners I didn’t have time to run to, I feel good about what I did have recorded.

Which corners were those?

The outside of the narrow chicane near turns 14, 15 and 16. I was able to shoot to the left of the driver but next time I’d like to see the perspective from the right.

Lewis or Max?

I’m all for good racing. The saying “when you see how the sausage is made” is kind of true. I’ll say when Max wins he’s not very animated. It’s not like I’d root at him, but when Lewis wins, he pops out and shakes his fist. That’s what we want to see as photographers. In Miami, Max got out of the car tired and exhausted from the heat, but even when he’s not, he’s not very lively. When someone like Fernando Alonso has won, Hamilton, or when Sebastian Vettel has won, there’s more of a sense of celebration and joy. Max is more reserved.

Is there a driver who is camera shy?

Lewis is very media savvy. He walks in every morning in very colorful, cool clothes, but it’s very hard to pin him down. And that’s because of his success, right? As Lewis enters the paddock, he is followed by Netflix, TV crews, cameramen and fans. He basically has to run from point A to point B to avoid it. In Miami, he sped through the paddock on his scooter while his bodyguard was in full sprint behind him. Without setting foot on the floor, he walked from the Mercedes living suite into the garage, into the garage and disappeared. The only time you really see him is when he’s making the required media time or hitting the track in the morning. He just never stops.

Where are you going next?

IMSA’s Mid-Ohio is next weekend but I’m taking the week off to be a dad. Otherwise I would be on the road eight weekends in a row. I will be back to shoot the SRO series in New Orleans, Monaco for F1, then the 24 Hours of LeMans and then back to Montreal for another F1 race.

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