Questions from our Readers #2

The last time we did this it was super awesome, so we figured why not do it again!? You guys always come up with the best and most ridiculous questions!

1. “How did you guys start off? I’m interested because I’d like to get on the same level” -Randy Noa Lot, San Jose, California
Bohan: I used to shoot landscapes and random stuff, then in 2005 I started shooting my local drift events whenever I wasn’t driving. I worked for a shop with a blog and used that to get my first media credentials in 2007. In 2010 Conrad Grunewald hired me to shoot Formula D. Being one of the guys who’s always there makes it easier to get more jobs.
Wong: My first event was the 2006 San Jose Grand Prix. I was working with an online travel info site and since it was a new Bay Area event they wanted a photo or two and just a description. I asked for a credential and amazingly got approved. It was all downhill from there.
2. “What’s your best Shenanigan? I was filmed planking a bum at SEMA by the TV show Las Vegas Strip on TruTV.” -Eric Gearhart, Puyallup, Washington
Ayala: Well, this one time I got stuck at an airport.
Bohan: Joe wins.
3. “Can I borrow $20? -Matt Perry, Warwick, Rhode Island
Bohan: No.
Ayala: No.
Pitts: Yes.
4. “Can you teach me how to take and edit amazing pictures? And also what lenses do you use the most? Good work keep it up!” -Tryston Willing, Rosedale, British Columbia
Bohan: Thanks! We can teach you how to be technically proficient, but creativity is something else. For motorsports I use my 400 2.8 the most. For everything else I mostly use my 16-35 and 50 1.2 sometimes my 70-200. Most beginners miss the fact that aperture is as important as focal length. A 75-300 will only give you f/5.6 at 300mm, and with lower quality glass too. It won’t look anywhere near as awesome as a 300 2.8.
Ayala: Like Bohan said, we can teach the you to use and combine ISO, aperature, and shutter speed, but inspiration and creativity is something you gotta find for yourself. As for editing, I keep mine extremely minimal. I shoot all my photos RAW and then balance out the levels and curves in post. Like Bohan I probably use my 400mm 2.8 most in motorsports, but not by much. Most of my photo career, I’ve used the 70-200mm 2.8 so I’m most comfortable with that and a lot of the times, it gives me a look that the 400mm can’t. I’d say 60% 400mm, 30% 70-200, and 10% 35mm or 50mm.
Wong: To reiterate what was said before, get the basics down…even that will take a few years (I don’t even have the basics down yet) but you’ll get to a point where you know “how” to shoot just by feel. And from there it’s just taking your creativity and transferring that to your camera. Or something like that.
Pitts: Photography is like drifting. It’s easy to teach the fundamentals, but the things that make you great have to do with feeling it, and personal style. Go read a book about photography, learn the fundamentals, then look at photographs you like and decipher how they were shot. Then practice! Oh, and I use whatever Bohan and Ayala will let me. Those guys are rad.
5. “How do the photographers we see in like Formula D events pay for all their trips to different motorsports events, and still have money for the actual tickets, food, bills and stuff like that? How do you make a comfortable living in photography or do you not? Second job maybe?” -Joshua Herrera, Bell Gardens, California
Bohan: Everyone’s different. For me, I work for a few teams and make enough to get to all the events and have a place to stay. I also sell photos and photo sets here and there to other drivers and teams. And we don’t have to buy tickets…media gets in for free. When I’m not traveling I shoot weddings and other local stuff.  It all seems to work out.
6. “Questions to all: Most fun you’ve had while driving a car, what car was it?” -Dylan Evans, Auburn, Washington

Pitts: Wow, that’s a good question. I’ve had a LOT of fun in cars. I would say the most fun I’ve had in a car is wheel to wheel racing at Thunderhill in an ITA-prepped Mazda RX-7 FB. Followed closely by driving Joey Gauthier’s TE72 Corolla rally car on the dirt back in 2007, and Tomasz Olech’s SR20-DET AE86 Coroalla drift car in 2008.
Ayala: I have two very memorable experiences, aside from bashing around with Shreeve. One would be at the Gatebil Rudskogen event in Norway 2011 where I got to drive Dag Harlem’s 500whp JZX100 Toyota Mark II, my first time ever taking an actual built race car on the track and having it to myself. So much fun! The next is on the complete other side of the spectrum. I drove Andy Gillespie’s AE86 GTS around on the skid pad at Thunderhill Raceway, January of 2012. That was my first time ever chucking a Hachi around. Possibly the most fun I’ve ever had driving a car. Those damn Corollas make you work for it.
Bohan: Smashing down rally stages in the Blastfinder was probably most fun. Not having to worry about oncoming traffic, kicking up tons of dust, e-braking the turns. Wong was scared for his life.
7. “What’s your ballpark ratio for the amount of photos taken at an event to how many you consider worthy of posting/publishing? -Paulo Acoba, Mered, California
Pitts: I remember back in the day when Bohan and I would have contests to see who could post the least photos from an event. With my slower shutter rate, I’m usually around 30:1. I have worked in situations where accuracy is more important than art and beauty, and a 95+% keep ratio is mandatory. That’s a whole different story though.
Bohan: Not a lot, but that’s largely due to fast continuous shooting. For example I shot  5,065 photos at Formula D Atlanta. I picked 66 that could go in the main story but only ended up using 19, 19 more went in the story about the track, and I sold 101 to teams. So that’s 38 out of 5065 that made it to the site, or 0.75%. Aside from wrong exposure, out of focus, or bad panning, I might get 10 technically good shots of a car on one turn, but I’d only use the best one. Then of course I don’t need to post a photo of every car on every corner so most of those photos aren’t used. I have to shoot them though, just in case that car ends up winning the event, or there’s crash, or the team wants to buy photos later. I have no idea what the actual shot-to-good ratio is. I throw away so many perfectly good photos.
Ayala: Every single photo I take is better than the previous.
8. “How awesome is Jordan Hamelin?” -Jordan Hamelin, Montreal, Quebec
Pitts: What’s a Jordan Hamelin?
Wong: Formula Derp.
9. “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?” -Daniel Baxter, Concord, California
Bohan: All of it.
Pitts: 5.03
Ayala: What?!
10. How does one ewwiwop the nomclang? – Griffin Saeger, Corvallis, Oregon
Bohan: There’s no one right way. Do whatever works best for you. Tyler McQuarrie did it in an NSX.
11. “What was the most fun place you traveled to?” -Nik Doces, Bothell, Washington
Wong: Medford was dope.
Pitts: I started thinking about this question, and realized that everywhere I go is fun. Sure there are some less-fun places, but I don’t think the fun really has to do with the place. With good friends, you can have fun no matter where you are.
Bohan: Yea, that.
Ayala: Yup, There is no way I could begin to compare travels.
Bohan: The least fun I had was in northeastern Michigan in January. It was so cold just standing around for hours waiting for rally cars to come by. Hand and foot warmers were useless. When it’s 0º, they don’t even get your hands and feet above freezing. But there were still race cars and friends around, so it was fun.
Wong: F*@# Michigan.
12. “When are Ayala and Shreeve getting married?” -Jacob Shepherd, Medford, Oregon
Pitts: Joe already is married…
Bohan: Do I look like a mind reader?
13. “How long do you cook frog legs?” Joseph Lovett, Memphis, Tennesee
Bohan: Until they’re done.

14. “Coke or Pepsi” -Emil David Garcia, Ives Estates, Florida
Bohan: Coke.
Pitts: Water.
Ayala & Shreeve: IPA.
Bohan: Put rum in my Coke, please.
Wong: Whiskey. Or scotch. I don’t judge.
15. “Who you be with? What numbers to dial? Things that make you smile? You gone call your crew?” -Tomasz Olech, Sacramento, California
Pitts: We can rendezvous at the bar around 2.
Bohan: Plans to leave, throw the keys to Lil’ Shreeve, pull the truck up front and roll up the next blunt.
Ayala: So we can steam on the way to the telly, gone fill my belly. A T-bone steak, cheese, eggs, and Welch’s grape.
Shreeve: Conversate for a few, cuz in a few we gone do what we came to do, ain’t that right, Drew?
Bohan: True.
16. “Why can’t I have nice things?” -Palmer Sanderson, Novato, California
Wong: Because you can spell PLMR SNDRSN without vowels and it’ll still make sense.
17. “Y u no gave girl-blaster yet? Still waiting on LB cheerleader squad” -Alex Dalton, San Francisco, California
Bohan: Send one our way. We have nothing against it.
Pitts: No worthy girl-blaster has asked to join, and we have a cheerleading squad…we just make them cheer for us in our livingrooms where nobody can see.
18. “Why can’t black people be white!!?? LOL” -Mikey Danger Portay, Los Angeles, California
Bohan: We can, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
19. “Why blast life?” -Sergio Velazquez, Napa, California
Pitts: Because life is a blast when you know what you’re doin’.
Bohan: Having a boring life is such a waste. I can’t imagine going back to a 9-to-5, waking up early every day, sitting in traffic, working to make someone else rich, sitting in traffic again, sitting on the couch until it’s time to go back to sleep. There’s so much cool stuff in the world to go see and do and learn about, and you just can’t do it if you have a job like that holding you down. Not enough people have adventures anymore. I want to have adventures.
20. “How can I get into motorsports photography? Serious question.” -Jesse Flores, Sacramento, California
Bohan: Go to the track and shoot shoot shoot, even as a spectator. A place like Thunderhill has plenty of spots you can shoot from even without trackside access. Show off only your best shots and try to get a driver or team to hire you as their photographer. Don’t do it for free though. Sure you might need practice, but if your shots aren’t worth buying, they’re not worth going on the team’s website either. They can pay if they want to use them. The worst thing you can do is upload your entire memory card to Facebook. Don’t do that. No one wants to see that. So practice a lot and be patient. Meet everyone you can. Study styles you like and figure out how to shoot like that, then meld them together and try new things and create your own style.
-Pitts, Ayala, Shreeve, Wong, and Bohan

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