Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Frits van Eldik: Master Of Motor Sports
Frits van Eldik begins with a vision and from there creates some of the most evocative and intense racing photographs in the world
“I like to know everything about an event, driver, race or car,” van Eldik continues. “I want to have the feeling I did everything to make the race weekends a success. I think in advance about tracks, light situations, look at pictures I made in the past, walk the track to see if there’s something new or interesting. I have the feeling that pushing the button on the camera is not so important. Some experience is ideal, but you can learn to make a picture. Most of us can see, but not everybody has a vision.”
Van Eldik says luck is an important part of his process. He needs to be lucky that action happens right in front of him, lucky that he’s looking the right way, lucky that he picked the right lens, the right setting and the right position. Luck, of course, is when preparation meets opportunity.
“A lot of people think you grab a camera,” he says, “walk around and make some pictures, or that you work just the hours that cars are on track and that the rest of the time is holiday. Photography is a mind-set. You need to see your picture before the actual images come together. You need to know what lens to use and what settings give the effect you had in mind. As soon as the light goes green, you have to fine-tune the details. It all has to come together. There’s no way back, just one chance—it has to work. That’s excitement!”
“In my early years, I learned to think before I made a picture,” he says. “This is still the way I try to work today. The good thing about starting my career in photography with film and with a low budget was that I had to think carefully before I pushed the button. Are the settings right, is the composition okay? Wait til the car is sharp, and click! When I give workshops now, I see most of the people starting to make a motion-picture film instead of thinking about the shot they want to capture. Ten frames per second is nice, but it doesn’t mean you need to shoot 10 frames per second.”
Young van Eldik learned from looking at the work of motorsports photographers in his favorite magazines. His idol was photographer Bernard Asset, with whom van Eldik eventually would work alongside. Studying his pictures helped the photographer figure out how to make extra-special images.
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