This past Saturday was quite a day for me. In the morning Rob and I did a trash the dress shoot (blog entry coming soon) then I quickly made my way to Anniston, Al for the 8th annual Sunny King Criterium. This would be the first time I worked a professional race and I was really excited. It was also a good warm up for the Twilight Criterium this coming up Saturday in Athens, GA. As a side note, if you are close to the Athens area I highly suggest heading up to see the race. It is a spectacle both on the roads and in the crowd.
I arrived in Anniston with plenty of time to spare so I spent the time walking the course and catching up with some friends I haven’t seen in a while. I took a few practice shots on the mens CAT I II race to get use to the massive 70-200mm lens I rented for both the Sunny King race and Twilight. I really liked the lens. It performed amazingly and the vibration reduction help immensely when it was needed.
Before the womens race started I made my way to one of the spots I decided I would like to shoot from. That spot turned out to be right next to the two lead out cars for the races. One of the drivers walked up right as I got to my spot and I struck up the conversation. Next thing I know, I have talked my way into a seat in the lead out car for the first half of the womens race! That was a really cool experience. I didn’t get the really awesome shots I thought I would get but I did get some that were keepers. I more enjoyed speeding around the course, seeing the race from a totally different vantage point than the majority of the people there.
After my turn in the lead out car was finished, I continued shooting as I originally planned. I began to get really comfortable with the situation and everything seemed to be moving along so naturally. I took the advice Rob gave to me a while ago to heart that day, if I looked and acted professionally then people would respect me as such and would not ask questions. I looked at the day as a day of work. I wanted to use this race, and Twilight, as a basis to hopefully sell some of my images to a few publications in the future.
During the lull between the woman and mens race I posted up next to the lead mechanics tent, hoping some of the big favorites for the day would come by. I was not disappointed because soon after I was face to face with Rashaan Bahati. I asked him if I could get a picture and he happily abliged. After a small conversation and a quick good luck he made his way to the starting line to take his place among the other racers.
As soon as the mens race started it was game on. I was all over the course taking pictures and finding spots to shoot from. In my wonderings I met another photographer, B.D. Andrews (http://www.bdandrews.com his stuff is really good, go check it out). He was a really nice, good guy who will be around Twilight next week. I felt pretty good because I was experimenting with a few things but also using what I have learned from working at Flip Flop, which translated well from doing event work. I am still learning but I think for my first real go at shoot a pro race, at night, I did pretty well.
Below is the new way I am going to display my images rather than having a lightbox gallery. I think this way helps tell the story plus makes viewing all the images much easier, even in the load time with be longer. For a more indepth article about the race and the results go the article here on Velonews. You will also be able to see one of Mr. Andrews pictures from that night in the article. As always, thanks for stopping by and looking at my work.