I have been a photojournalist, writer, communicator and historian for most of my life. My very first experience was capturing intimate Grand Prix images as a “fly on the wall” in the world of Formula One. Those years changed my life forever.
I first picked up a “real” camera in 1971; a rudimentary autofocus, auto exposure point-and-shoot Canon Canonet, as part of Dr. Will Counts’ requisite Non-Verbal Communication course for journalism undergrads at Indiana University.
A day after I turned in my first assigned roll of film for the class, Dr. Counts hunted me down and demanded that I become an “Indiana Daily Student” newspaper photographer.
I still remember his pitch…
“I have never made any photographs before, I said. I don’t own a camera.”
“Buy one, it’s what you’re meant to do…"
So convinced, and armed with a new Nikon FTN, I gravitated to the work of W. Eugene Smith, and the Magnum photographers; Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Joseph Koudelka.
Their common approach became my mantra: make images that tell a story; remove yourself; disappear; leave out the vanity; and, make emotional and elegantly composed images that point to a truth about your subject.
I began my Formula One documentary in 1972, a year after picking up that first Nikon. I opened a copy of Road & Track Magazine, and became an instant fan of Rob Walker's story of the 1971 British Grand Prix. I knew that's where I would find my future.
Although underage, I was able to talk my way into full accreditation for the 1972 United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen through AP connections.
A FLY ON THE WALL
Early on, it was clear that these technological developments were influencing the spirit, passion and bravery that I was recording of that time, and so I decided to adopt the style of Cartier-Bresson and become “a fly on the wall”; getting as close as I could to the telling moments without influencing the emotion or the drama of the moment.
I consciously backed away and didn’t go looking for moments; I just waited to let those moments compel me to make an image. And, as luck would have it, I witnessed and recorded hidden moments that became pivotal incidents in Grand Prix history. After positions at the Chicago Tribune and Observer Newspapers in Detroit, I began a 20-year association with Car and Driver Magazine, traveling the world to provide art for over 600 feature stories and numerous covers.
In 2001, I joined Mitsubishi as Senior Manager of Media Relations, helped launch the Lancer Evolution 8. I became Manager of North American Motorsports in 2003, winning the SCCA Pro Rally Championship Manufacturers’ National Open Class title with the new Evo. From there, I went on to provide public relations management for another multi-national Japanese auto company for a further eight years…
Throughout these years, I could never forget the intimate Grand Prix images I had captured and the experiences of being a “fly on the wall” in the world of Formula One.
So, I am reclaiming my soul with this collection of never-before published Grand Prix documentary photography. I believe they offer unique impressions of amazing driver’s and athletes, and moments that changed their lives forever.
The initial presentation of my images took place in the fall of 2013 in Hong Kong, courtesy of an exhibition hosted by Blackbird Automotive and in conjunction with McLaren’s 50th Anniversary.
"Waiting", my documentary of my personal Golden Age images and memoirs was published in 2018, and nominated to The Telegram's list of Best Sports Book of theYear.
I have also returned to creating new digital work, in both monochrome and color, on fresh editorial assignments and personal sports projects that will again allow me to record human drama, struggle and grace, with all its emotion, patina, and nuance, such as the Macau Grand Prix and it's growing influence on Formula One.
And as before, I’m enjoying a creative adventure lived as "a fly on the wall."
Thank you for joining me on this continuing journey.