Jamey Price is a Charlotte, NC-based motorsport photographer covering anything that goes loud and fast. His images have appeared in Autosport, Motorsport, F1 Racing, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, the Charlotte Observer, QC Exclusive, and many others. You can follow him on 500px, Instagram, and Twitter, and see more of his work on his website.

No doubt about it, I have a cool job. The access, the ability to stand inches away from a racing car as it comes around a corner, is something that money cannot buy. But make no mistake, it is a job.

I’ve said it jokingly in the past, but it couldn’t be more true. Motorsport photographers are not in control of what’s going on around us. No assistant to bring me a diet coke when I’m thirsty or tired, no ability to see what I’m shooting during a shoot on a 27inch Apple retina hooked up to my camera. We have no control over the light, the models, or anything else for that matter.

In a way, that’s what makes it as fun as it is challenging.

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With that in mind, I thought I would give you a glimpse into the life of a motorsport photographer’s day — but before I can do that, you have to understand what it is I’m shooting.

Fast on the heels from January’s Rolex Daytona 24-hour race is Sebring’s classic 12-hour race just a month and a half later. The race is in mid-March and in the middle of nowhere; in cow country Florida on a bumpy, dusty, and very very flat and old World War II B-17 bomber airstrip.

It’s got history oozing out of its concrete slabbed raceway — an iconic American race. 80,000 people show up from all walks of life to take in the sights, sounds, and smells from Sebring during this endurance sportscar race. Manufacturers and private racing teams with drivers from across the globe turn up to run it. The best of the best in sportscars. And that means they need pictures…

My clients, Aston Martin Racing’s factory team, came all the way from England to compete in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class; my friend and talented racing driver Andrew Palmer is competing in the PR1 protoype challenge (PC) open cockpit car; and motorsport.com, one of the world’s bigger editorial motorsport websites, is also there. All of them need images from the 12 hours of Sebring, round two of the North American Endurance Championship. This is going to be a LOOOONG day.

A Day in the Life of Motorsport Photographer Jamey Price

Saturday, March 21, 2015

6:15 A.M. Alarm goes off. Quick shower, pack bag, and I am out the door and headed for the track.

6:45 A.M. A quick stop by the gas station for the day’s essentials: two bottles of gatorade, two power bars, two granola bars, and a box of donuts. It’s key to keep your blood sugar up during these days. I also know I won’t get a breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

7:15 A.M. Photographer’s photo meeting where we’re told the ins and outs of race day: where we can go and not go during they day, and, most importantly, the victory lane procedures for the winning car and podium.

7:40 A.M. Hustle out for morning warmup. The sun has JUST come up over the horizon and morning warmup can produce some of the nicest light during the day. I choose to cover the cars coming down the paddock before heading out on the track, then jumping in a friend’s golf cart and heading to turn 7 for the quick 20-minute session.


8:00 A.M. Morning warmup.

8:25 A.M. Back to the media center to dump cards and do a quick edit before heading out to pitlane to catch drivers and teams talking race strategy and whatever nice morning details can be found.

9:15 A.M. Cars head to pre-grid where fans can mingle with the drivers and see the cars up-close-and-personal. There is no series on Earth like this. If you’re a racing fan, this is the best one to see race cars in the flesh, touch them, and talk to the drivers. It makes for fantastic photos too.



10:15 A.M. I head back to the media center as fans are asked to leave the starting grid. I know it will be a few hours before I’m back in the AC and out of the sun, so I put on a quick splash of sun lotion and stuff as many water bottles in my pockets as I can.

On my person, I am carrying: two Nikon D4s’, a Nikon 500mm f4 VR, a 70-200 f2.8 VRII, 24-70 f2.8, 14-24 f 2.8, and a wallet full of Lexar memory cards as well as a 2XTC and 2.4 TC. Like I said, we don’t have the liberty of coming back to the media center anytime I need a lens. If there is ANY chance of rain, I also have with me a poncho, and camera rain covers. Fortunately, today is cloudless… and hot. High of 91F with a “feels like” temperature of 98.

10:20 A.M. Make the long walk toward my chosen starting position. Another member of the team I’m working with has the iconic turn 1 covered, so I head for an alternate start shot. It’s a hike, but I’m hoping it will make for a cool image.

10:40 A.M. Ear plugs in for the green flag!!! The 53rd running of the 12 Hours of Sebring is underway!


10:59 A.M. Walk back toward turn 1 (driver’s right) to do a shot I’ve always wanted to try. Iconic? No, but different? Absolutely. It is mesmerizing to watch the cars ROAR past just inches away from the wall I’m next to. It’s a tough shot, but worth it.


11:08 A.M. I grab a few laps of panning cars bouncing down the front straight before making the LONG walk back down the start/finish straight toward the final corner, turn 17, for a few images as the cars come under the iconic Sebring bridge.



12:04 P.M. Back to pitlane. I know my client, Aston Martin, will be doing a pitstop soon and I need to get them working on the car. So I head toward the pit box and, fortunately, see their mechanics gearing up and grabbing tires.




12:45 P.M. Quick stop in the media center to dump memory cards and grab more water before heading back out on track.

1:40 P.M. My friend Alex and I decide we want to feature images of fans in the infamous “green park” camping area being wild and crazy. It’s all part of the Sebring atmosphere.


1:58 P.M. Time for more of that special “Sebring atmosphere.” The famous Sebring 12-hour bikini contest. Need I say more?


3:03 P.M. Back to the media center to dump cards and edit a few selects for Aston Martin and motorsport.com. The race is still going and we’re less than halfway through, but the light is the worst it will be all day and so we all use this time to get off our feet and out of the oppressive Florida heat and sun. It’s also a chance to check in with my wonderful and ever-so-patient girlfriend. I couldn’t have the energy or strength to travel the world without her support, and it’s nice to check in and see what she’s up to and not have screaming race cars in my ears for once.

4:30 P.M. Grab the sunglasses and back out on track I go. Walking back toward turn 1, 3, 5, and 6 on driver’s left. The sun is starting to settle a little lower in the sky and the light is getting nicer. I will be out on track most of the rest of the day as I work my way around.

5:45 P.M. Walk back across the infield toward the media center to dump cards, grab a fresh bottle of water, and collect my friend Alex to drive to the other end of the track where we know we have the best chance to get a nice sunset at turns 10, 12, and 13.


7:31 P.M. The sun is as orange and colorful and low in the sky as it’s going to be today. Light is changing lap by lap and fading behind the horizon. With more than 3 hours left to go in the race, we all head back toward the media center around 7:50, satisfied with this year’s epic Sebring sunset. Epic light is what we live for as photographers. And personally, I love nothing more than backlit race cars.



8:49 P.M. After another edit and upload of images to clients, I head out onto pitlane. I’ve got a daytime pitstops, but need a night time versions too. This is a 12-hour car race after all. Walking up and down pitlane is nice. I enjoy it. The roar of the cars passing by, the mechanics working on cars coming in as they shuffle through their pit cycles, everyone is doing something different. It is fascinating to watch the race unfold. It is emotionally and physically draining for everyone involved.

I check in with my clients to see how they’re doing as well. I’m lucky that many of these people have turned into genuine friends, so I genuinely care about their success in the race. It’s fun to watch them as drivers and teams push the cars and themselves to the limit. Trying to remain unbiased at all times, it’s hard not to pump a fist in the air when you see a great pass made by one of your friends — even better when you have a photo of it.


9:42 P.M. After an hour or so of pitlane work, I head toward the heaviest braking zone on the track, turn 7. The brake rotors are glowing bright red and the cars roaring through the Florida night are a sight to behold. There is so much color, and this is also one of the best spots for overtaking, so occasionally you’ll get two cars in the frame.

Having bagged the “boring” shots, you can start to play with crazy shutter speeds and framing the cars differently. With less than an hour to go, I know I can’t stay long. Even though it’s a 12 hour race, it is amazing how fast it goes, and how little time it feels like you have to accomplish everything you need.



10:25 P.M. Back to pitlane for the end of the race. Waiting with the other photographers to jump over the wall and go on pitlane to greet the race winner, the day has certainly worn on all of us. Fatigue hasn’t set in yet, but my legs are sore, my back is sore, shoulders are sore, and my head hurts from lack of food and too much sun. Not to mention I smell like I haven’t showered in a week and I’m covered in race car grit, rubber, oil, sunscreen, and sweat. Glamorous, I know.

10:40 P.M. Fireworks explode overhead! 12 hours has passed and the race is done!

10:50 P.M. My least favorite part of the day. American sportscar racing has inherited a little too much NASCAR, and has adopted the “hat dance.” A terrible “tradition” where the winning drivers in each class don a different hat from different manufacturer, race, and team sponsors. It makes for a slow night as they set up and change hats every few minutes and repeat the same photo over and over and over.

The only consolation is the always fun spraying of champagne on the podium. And best yet, my client Andrew Palmer and his team of two other drivers won their class!


11:40 P.M. The hat dance and the images I need are done, even though the GT Daytona class has yet to finish their podium celebrations, I head back to the media center to dump the rest of the days’ cards and start the post race edit in addition to checking in with Emily to let her know I’m alive and not roadkill on the side of a race track in Florida.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

1:52 P.M. Finally done with my edits, packed up and leaving the track. I have a 9:35am flight out of Orlando this morning, which means I have to leave the house I’m staying in at a far too early 6:20am. So after a quick drive back, a short shower to wash all that grime off, and packing my suitcase, I finally climb into bed around 2:30am.

I love sportscar racing. I love endurance racing even more. It’s exhilarating, fast paced, fun, challenging, and frustrating all wrapped up in one, but one thing it is not is easy.

I wouldn’t trade the people I know because of it and the experiences I’ve had for anything in the world, but there is literally no rest for the weary. 24 hours after getting back from Sebring, I’m already at the airport again, this time heading to the other side of the world for the second round of the Formula 1 world championship in Sepang (near Kuala Lumpur) Malaysia.

If you’re interested in seeing a sportscar race for yourself, visit IMSA.com and check out the 2015 Tudor United Sportscar Series calendar to find a race near you!