Through the Lens: Inside the F1 Paddock with Photographer Jamey Price

Photographs by Jamey Price

For photographer Jamey Price, capturing the speed of motorsports in a still image is a passionate pursuit. A 2019 recipient of the Motorsport Photographer of the Year Award from the National Motorsports Press Association, Price has built his career on tracks around the world. Price, who is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, has been covering motorsports broadly for more than a decade, giving him a unique perspective on the recent explosion of interest in F1 in the U.S., driven in large part by the Drive to Survive series.

“Formula 1 has had a dramatic explosion in popularity.” Says Price, “When I was growing up, it would come up in conversation that I enjoyed watching Formula 1 and the response would always be, ‘Yeah, I’ve heard of it. They race the Indy 500, right?’ No one knew much. You never saw merch being worn around in public, and it seemed a very European sport and not something that Americans should or would enjoy. But in recent years, because of a variety of factors, largely the Netflix hit documentary series, plus COVID with people being home for long periods of time with no other sports to watch on TV, plus a very exciting 2021 championship, the sport has exploded. Races are visibly busier with fans and VIPs, races that traditionally had no celebrity presence now have A-listers, and I regularly see F1 team merch in the wild. It’s been fun to see a sport I’ve loved for so long finally get its time in the sun.”

As the 2023 F1 season moves into its final stretch, The Players’ Tribune asked Price to share his perspective on his favorite images from the season so far….

“Lewis Hamilton is a personality. He’s made himself bigger than the sport in many ways. It’s almost impossible to get a clean photo of him. So, using a 400mm f2.8 lens, I was able to get one image of the seven-time World Champion walking into the F1 paddock in the morning, surrounded by fans, photographers and handlers.” —Jamey Price

“Watching a swarm of mechanics working on a car between sessions is always fascinating. Everyone has a job, and somehow they don’t get in each other’s way. Despite how they may look on TV, F1 garages are very small and narrow.”

“A Monaco GP fire marshal watches the race on his phone.”

“This fan is a well-known one. Every year he hand makes a very detailed hat based on that year’s Ferrari chassis.”

“Though it looks dangerous, this is about as safe as it gets. With a catch fence on our right, and safety vehicles directly behind us, and marshals standing on all sides, this is one corner in Monaco that is really fun to work and unlike anywhere else on Earth (that I’ve photographed from).”

“Some of the circuits have really done a cool job of using the massive safety runoff to put a splash of color into the scene. A vibrant car and that background, the photographers flock to these areas like a moth to flame.”

“American Logan Sargeant climbs from his Williams cockpit on the grid as mechanics prep his car for the race. Getting low right next to the nose and wing of the car allowed me to frame him against the sky a bit more.”

“The view of Monaco’s Port Hercule from high up on the viewing deck for Senate Grand Prix. These types of views aren’t guaranteed for photographers. You have to know someone to get access to locations like this. But the imagery is worth the walk up 15 flights of stairs.”

“They don't get bigger than Tom Cruise. There was a rumor that Tom would be at the race, and the rumors for once were true. Walking straight at me, I pointed my lens at him and he gave a little wave.”

“One minute you're taking photos of drivers getting ready to race, and the next minute Chris Rock and James Marsden are sharing a laugh on the grid next to you. You really have to have your brain working a million miles an hour to keep up with everything happening on the grid. It’s a bit of sport photography mixed with celebrity paparazzi coverage.”

“The spot with all the photographers sitting on the ground, this is one type of photo you get from that location. By putting the camera on the ground, and setting a high enough shutter speed to freeze the car, this is what you get.”

“Taking candid photos of the personalities of the paddock is one of the main parts of the job of an F1 photographer. But your average candid photo can be made slightly more interesting by using someone’s shoulder or shirt as a foreground element and catching the right amount of light on Max Verstappen’s eye.”

“Max leads the way up the hill from Turn 1 in Monaco. This spot will make you hair stand on end, especially during the start. The cars are nose-to-tail through the entire pack, and they come past only a few inches away from you.”

“I love working street circuits. There is no place like Monaco … for taking photos of race cars. The proximity of the cars to the corner workers and also to us as photographers is really something special. While it is all about the cars and drivers, I enjoy trying to incorporate the unsung heroes of a race weekend into photos as well.”

“Not all the cars produce sparks. It depends on the fuel load of the car, the setup the team are running for that session, and sometimes a little bit of driver error. However, almost every lap for the first few laps of a stint, both Ferrari cars were exploding sparks from the titanium skid plate under the car.”

 “I was running back from my qualifying location in Monaco, headed back toward the pit lane for Parc Fermé. As I was running, I saw a very strong looking man sitting on a yacht. Then I realized the yacht was the one of a kind Lamborghini yacht. Then I realized it was Connor McGregor. He flexed and posed for me, and I continued running.”

“Racing at night in Bahrain makes for a great atmosphere. I’m used to covering racing at night, but not always with so much light to play with. The light-up tower, the floodlights, and using my phone to reflect all of it while panning is a fun trick.”

“Fans watch the race from a garden terrace in Monaco.”

“Max Verstappen wins … again. What you get from photographing the podium is basically all luck. You can be in the perfect spot, but sometimes the drivers will just turn their backs to you and spray champagne in the opposite direction. But sometimes, it all comes together.”