PAUCH: Taking Pictures Isn’t So Simple

Mandee Pauch

FRENCHTOWN, N.J. — Why do we take photos? We want to remember moments.

We know that later on we can look at our photos and recapture our experience and savor it once again.

Remember that picture of your son in the pits changing the tire for the first time? Or how about your daughter’s first victory when she climbed out of the car and you welcomed her with open arms?

There’s so much more than being a photographer who simply “clicks the button on a nice camera” to capture those moments.

Sometimes it seems like such a thankless job where many racing photographers go unappreciated and unnoticed for their work. No one recognizes the time and sacrifices they put in to capture those memorable moments.
Imagine going online without any pictures available; press releases without any pictures to go with the story; and newspapers with just words. Sounds pretty boring, doesn’t it?

We all know cameras and equipment can get be pricy. Cameras can range anywhere from $700 to more than $7,000. Then you need the lenses, which range from $100 to $2,000. Don’t forget it gets dark at the races. You’ll need to buy a flash for your camera, which costs roughly $500. Then add on the accessories such as extra batteries, flash cards, cords, etc.

There are professional photographers who have more than $10,000 invested in equipment.

But just like you and I, they also have to spit out money for travel expenses such as gas, hotels and food on top of the cost of their equipment.

There are also photographers just starting out, who haven’t made a name for themselves. It’s difficult for them to get on a working media credential list, so they frequently have to pay their way in. They all have to start from the bottom and work their way up. They also may not get to shoot where all of the other photographers on “the list” do, so they have to make do with where they are allowed, often either in the pits or the grandstands.

Do most photographers make money on their photos? Yes. Does the money they make cover the cost of everything? No.

The money most photographers make they put back into their equipment. That money helps pay for the breakage and wear and tear, which surprisingly happens quite frequently.

Not only do they work for very little, but these photographers make many sacrifices to be able to do what they do.

Sacrifices such as taking the time to sit and go through the pictures at 2 a.m. to meet deadlines; and balancing the time between work and family.

It is a huge commitment of time and pressures to evolve and get better, to create different images, to evoke different feelings and emotions.

So, why do they do it? They do it to be able to capture a moment in time and know that it will be preserved forever.

The satisfaction of a simple thanks. The recognition for all the hard work and time put in.

They do all of this for the people, and yet most photographers are unappreciated for what they do.

Photographers not only capture moments, they document history. It’s not about the money or the glory. It’s a true passion and love of the sport and the people in it that make them want to do it.

There’s something to be said for capturing a moment that will never happen again but will be savored forever.