Here’s what it’s like to be a Formula 1 photographer
For me, Formula 1 is the most exciting sport to follow, and one of the very few I like watching. And if you’ve been wondering what it’s like behind the scenes, Australian F1 photographer Kym Illman will tell you all about it. He’s one of just a few dozen “permanently accredited” F1 photographers, and in this video, he will tell you how everything works in this job.
Kym starts the video by presenting you with his gear. For this particular occasion, he had to bring as much gear as possible, but he still didn’t want to overdo it. His “weapons of choice” are two Canon EOS-1D X Mark III bodies, one 50mm f/1.4 lens, one 70-200 f/2.8 lens, one 600mm f/4 lens (with a Gitzo monopod to support the lens), and a 16-35mm lens. He also uses a 1.4x extender so that 600mm lens practically becomes an 840mm lens. Of course, there is also a flash, 20 TB of external memory, spare batteries and battery chargers, a card reader… You gotta cover everything.
If you’d like to become an accredited F1 photographer, Kym talks a bit about it too. You can apply for accreditation on FIA’s website, where you’ll also find more information about the whole process and the criteria you need to meet. And if you get the accreditation, there are some perks that come with it. This includes a parking spot at all the races, which is quite handy considering all the gear F1 photographers have to bring with them.
What about the shooting locations? Well, a permanently accredited photographer can shoot almost anywhere, including the pit lane and the paddock. But due to the pandemic, there are more limitations during this year’s races.
You may wonder how many photos Kym takes during a race weekend, Typically, it’s around 15,000 shots. He uses two memory cards, one for jpeg and one for raw images. This way he can share jpeg immediately on his website and social media, and raw images allow more room for editing later. In the video, he even goes through some edits his followers did on his photos.
Another important thing to think about is the luggage. there’s a lot of traveling involved in this job, and carrying tons of gear is certainly challenging. Kym points out that team photographers can put all their gear into a Pelican case and give it to the team to take to the next race. He doesn’t have this luxury, so he often flies in business class to avoid any drama with the gear he travels with.
In the video, Kym also shares some travel tips. He also talks about his workflow and image sharing process that he relies on. I believe these tips will be useful not only for potential F1 photographers but for any professional photographer out there.
Make sure to watch the entire Kym’s video, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it whether or not you follow Formula 1. And in case you do, I also recommend that you also watch Netflix’s series Formula 1: Drive to Survive. For more awesome Formula 1 photos and videos, follow Kym on his website, YouTube channel, and Instagram.
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.