What it Takes

untitled-2000A lot of people ask me what it’s like to be constantly traveling and covering awesome motorsports events like Formula D and Rally America. Most of those people understand that there’s a lot of behind the scenes work and preparation that goes into it, but maybe they are unclear on the details. I decided to document my trip to Florida and back last week so I could offer a glimpse into the world of the traveling motorsports photographer and what it takes to go cover an event.

packing-1Tuesday before a Formula D weekend is Packing Day, so I get all my gear out to sort it and get it ready.  The last event I had shot with my 400 was ProAm so it wasn’t too dirty. It mostly just needed a quick wipe down.
packing-2I wrap some parts of the lens in gaffer’s tape to protect it from scratches and to keep it clean. Sometimes I have to set it on the ground so I can use a different lens, so you can’t be too careful. I used white Shurtape brand tape last time, but it’s not sticky enough on the sticky side and too sticky on the non-sticky side, and it got completely filthy during the Oregon Trail Rally. So I took that stuff off and replaced it with black Pro-Gaff tape.
packing-3I have a laminated Shutter Beasts wrap on the hood that does well as protection. I tape over the wrap if I shoot more serious events like weddings or something.
packing-5I didn’t use my 70-200 much at Oregon Trail, so I didn’t need to replace the tape.
packing-4All the important gear goes into my ThinkTank roller. There’s a place for everything and it only fits one way. I have a mental checklist to make sure I don’t forget anything.
packing-9Even though I’m busy I can make time to read to my daughter. I’m not sure she really cares yet, but whatever. I’m sure reading to her when she’s three months old will make a genius when she’s older.
packing-10I make sure I have all my filters. UV’s, ND’s, CPL’s…72’s, 77’s, 82’s, and drop-ins. My hard card might be a useful thing to bring too.
packing-11PocketWizard remotes, cables, and batteries. I don’t always use this stuff but I bring it anyway.
packing-16Just in time the UPS man brought my new 4TB G-Drive. I was running low on hard drive space and had my 2013 stuff spread over four external drives and my laptop. After I got the new drive set up and everything transferred over to it I saw that I had shot 927GB worth of stuff so far this year.
packing-18I took a break to make ebi yaki udon for dinner. It was delicious.
packing-22I pack accessories like the gaff tape, batteries, and suction mounts in a smaller backpack.
packing-23It fits in my suitcase along with my tripod and monopod.
packing-25Four days worth of clothes would fit in a much smaller suitcase, but I also needed to pack my side bag, a poster for Jarod DeAnda, and my hat.
packing-26The suitcase weighed 44lbs after that, but there were still a few smaller items to pack the next morning. I was sure I’d still be under the 50lb limit though.
packing-27I got the rest of my lenses and stuff cleaned up and packed. This bag also weighed 44 lbs. The weight limit for carryons is 40lbs, but they never weigh them. I’ve never even seen a scale in an airport terminal.
untitled-11My laptop bag weighed 20lbs with my laptop, the charger, a power strip, and a few other odds and ends in it. Finally my desk was clean. It’s always nice to have a clean desk when I come home, because I have to get to work editing photos right away.
untitled-17Wednesday is Travel Day. Geoff wasn’t going to Florida so I made him give me a ride to SFO. He’s super dramatic.
untitled-21Group 3 isn’t bad. My biggest headache when flying is getting my roller on board. Ever since airlines started charging for checked bags lots of people just cram all their stuff into a carryon. Now the overhead bins always fill up with bags of clothes that would have been checked if it was still free.
untitled-25When the bins get full they want you to gate-check your bag, so it’s never good to be in one of the later groups. Even though I have insurance on my gear, if the airline breaks it or loses it there’s no way I could replace it by the next day.
untitled-30When I got to DFW my plane docked at Terminal A, where Joe and Larry got stuck two years ago. Now they are all over the airport’s advertising materials.
untitled-32I had a four hour layover so I killed a Southern Smokehouse Burger and a Stella Artois. They were delicious.
untitled-36Then it started raining…and pretty soon a thunderstorm rolled in north of the airport.
untitled-42Planes couldn’t land at DFW so almost all the outbound flights got delayed. Mine got delayed 15 minutes, then 30, then an hour. I was so bored I got a haircut. Who gets haircuts at the airport?
untitled-43Finally, two hours late, it was time to board.
untitled-47I got to PBI at 2am and the place was deserted.
florida -4I was staying with Conrad Grunewald and his crew in a ballin’ rental house. $300 a night for the house sure beats $100 a night each for four rooms, but I’m pretty sure there were alligators in that lake.
florida -11As ballin’ as that house was, there weren’t very many beds. I slept on a couch with a towel for a blanket the first night.
florida-30When we got to the track it was pretty rainy. It had been raining for several days in a row so everything was completely soaked.
florida-106You know you have big puddles when there are alligators in them. My boots got so wet from slogging around in the muck on Thursday that I had to put them in the dryer for five hours.
florida friday-89On Friday night another rainstorm came through. Waiting it out in the air-conditioned building was nice, though it can lead to cabin fever. FD president Jim Liaw saw Joe and Justin laying on the floor and just had to Instagram it. “We look like a bunch of idiots,” he said.
fdpb-28Florida is our once-a-year chance to meet up with Sam Mercado, our favorite artist. We’re his favorite…somethings. Website? Photographers? People? I’m not actually sure, but he likes us a lot.
fdpb-32He drew the poster we gave to Jarod on Saturday. It’s of Jarod’s son, and I heard he was super stoked to get it. Awesome!
florida home-23Sunday is Traveling Home Day. I only got two hours of sleep after the event before it was time to go to the airport again. I slept on my flight back to DFW and was well rested for my final flight of the trip, this time to San Jose. National Geographic and Apple Juice were my best friends for three and a half hours.
florida home-34I love maps, so I love looking at the world from airplanes. It’s like looking at the biggest and most accurate map there is. This is the Colorado River in the Canyonlands area of Utah.
florida home-35Sometimes all I could see were clouds though. That’s when National Geographic comes in handy.
florida home-51The plane crossed the Sierras a ways south of Yosemite. Hopefully I can make it up to the mountains again sometime soon.
florida home-66Here’s Adobe’s headquarters in downtown San Jose. It’s weird that a bunch of people in those three buildings are responsible for all the software I use to edit photos and video.
florida home-70Finally we landed. Apparently taking photos while landing is illegal. We didn’t crash so what’s the big deal?
florida home-80Back at home I was enjoying my nice clean desk. I would be editing photos the rest of the day to send to Conrad and Scion Racing.
untitled-6But I also squeezed in some baby-time.
untitled-11Several hours and a few meals later I was done and I could enjoy the first full-night’s sleep I had in several days.
untitled-18On Monday it was time to write the main Life Blasters article about the event and start editing Conrad’s video.
cat and lizard-84Tuesday was more of the same, except for fun things that happen like Blaster catching lizards. He plays with them like they’re toys.
wednesday-1By Wednesday night, everything from Florida was done, including this story.
wednesday-27Work is never over though. Right away I started printing banners for this weekend’s Bash to the Future event in Oregon. And that means cleaning my gear, packing, and traveling all over again.
email: bohan@lifeblasters.com
instagram: @andrew_bohan, @lifeblasters

6 thoughts on “What it Takes

  1. Pingback: On the Web – Chasing the dream at the N24 video & What it takes to be a motorsport photography | DLYmotorsportimages - Autosport, Car racing, Motorsport Photography

  2. Hi Bohan

    Cool story. I noticed you have a 400mm, 70-200mm, and 16-35mm in your carry-on. Was wondering what the other two lens are in your bag?

    Also, do you find alot of use for the drop-in circular PL filter for the 400mm? Guess its great for reducing the glare on the cars.




  3. I also have an 8-15 fisheye and 50 1.2. I use the drop in cpl whenever it’s daytime. it not only reduces glare but it darkens the frame a bit do I can use a slower shutter speed. if I need an even slower shutter I drop in a piece of ND glass along with it.

  4. Some airports have scales at the gate. its usually the older terminals. i think McCarran has some in the old ass terminal thats always half under construction. they don’t work though, i tried one. theres no power. some just have a size limit thing. again, nobody uses those either

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