What cannot be conveyed by words can actually be conveyed through photos. One of the few familiar personalities off the track is Mark Sutton who with his brand of Sutton Images have so far transformed many emotions that happened on the track into beautiful memories for us to cherish in our lifetime. In an exclusive interview with us, he talks about his prime machine and also other things of his life..
What is your Prime Machine?
I am using Canon Professional equipment since 1987, the main reason is that offers a great Pro service at the tracks every Grand Prix for servicing and repairing any damaged equipment as well as loaning Camera's or Lenses if
you want a particular lens for a special shot. I am current using the new EOS 1DX, which is a full frame camera with 12 frames per second and amazing camera for action and sports photography. There is also Canon CPS service
in the UK for any major repairs and will nearly always service or repair the items back the next day or again loan you equipment until the repair is made, this is very important back-up when you are travelling around the world.
What are the different lenses that you use?
The Canon lenses range from the following.
16-35mm F2.8L zoom wide-angle lens
24-70mm zoom F2.8L
70-200mm zoom F2.8L
What are the other type of gadgets that you require during the race coverage?
Which was the First Camera that you used?
If I remember the first camera I used was a Canon FM with no motordrive, infact I used this to make the photos of the Senna - Brundle crash at Oulton Park in 1983, I was still at college on a photography course helping my brother at weekends and learning, so I had to wind the frames on each time so I have them side by side and then the next frame they are on top of each other after crashing, I was the only photographer there, I think its on TV and You Tube.
How did it all start? And what attracted you this field?
Our father Maurice who was a big Motorsports fan took us to the races at Oulton Park when we were both younger, so we grew up with racing and then at 17 my brother Keith wanted to get infront of the fence having spent the
past few years trying like everyone from the other side, so my father asked the circuit manager called Rex Foster and he said ask Keith to come over and see me and we can discuss. So Keith went to see him as 17 year old and
he asked 'What's your age Keith', Keith replied '17', 'well you have to be 18 to be a Motorsport photographer', so I will ask you again, 'What age are you Keith?' and Keith replied 18 Mr Foster and then he said ok I will give you a pass but please be careful infront of the fence as Motorsport is dangerous and from there things changed alot and he could then start his career and Keith Sutton Motorsport Photography, I was 18 in 1983, my first year so I did not need to ask Mr Foster, but I really enjoyed those early moments and making that crash sequence which was used all over the world, it was just a shame I did not have a motordrive!
Is it important to be just good at your profession or should a person also have equal passion for Formula 1 as well?
You need the passion and interest like in any job, otherwise its boring and just a job, being an F1 photographer is both a passion, hobby and pleasure and you have to remind yourself you have an amazing job and you are so lucky that people all over world would like to be in your place, but its not that easy and it takes allot of experience and desire to do what we do and love.
Many people say that yours is a dream job? Would you like to comment?
Yes like I said above it is the dream job and compared to time in the past with film and processing things have changed from longer days and nights to things where images are sent immediately and uploaded to our website, we
have everything finished a few hours after the race finishes, so this makes it easier, but still be have to edit and caption all the images so people can search them and then find them online.
How tough is it to get a shot of an F1 car in high speed circuits? Is it Physically demanding to stay focused?
It becomes more difficult because the circuits now have more fences and the holes are not always in the right places, so when you shoot with a long lens is difficult to move your lens and movement is limited, the best positions can be the slower corners, but we are always looking for new angles and different shots, like when we visited Austin last year we had to check the track on Wednesday and go round the opposite way the than the cars and look and photograph the positions without that cars and see how these would work in the first practise on Friday, also they painted lines
on the outside of the corners and how these would assist the images, its very important to check these situations every year.
Tell us more about your network, How many people are connected to Sutton Images?
We have a huge network of clients and followers of Sutton Images, with over 30 Years in the business we have provided an image services to clients through image distribution via post, courier and then online we started our
first website in 1997 (http://www.sutton-images.com) offering Hi-resolution scans from the slides as a download, but in the beginning it was a slow process, then digital camera's came on the market, so we invested heavily into these at £10,000 each which was very expensive, but we had to have them to stay ahead of the competition, then as the camera's have evolved we have invested, this changed from our darkrooms which cost us over £40,000 to be then placed in a skip as digital took over and now everything is this format and the files are getting bigger and luckily the line speeds are improving as well. Social media has help spread our business as well through twitter and facebook, we now show our images in YouTube as image montages with music every race and promotional clips from TV companies who like to interview us about our images and the sport.
What advice would you like to give to someone who want to enter your field?
I think the main thing I always say it to have the interest is the first step and then if you feel that photography is your passion, to then start on a course of both photography, social media and digital skills like website, Photoshop and other programming skills really helps and makes things easier and always offers you the chance to fall back on those other skills if you don't make it. Start at the bottom of Motorsport like Karting or single seater racing locally and then build up your skills and as you improve goto faster cars and practise always makes perfect as they say and I believe that really works.
An Art Article on how digital photography has acted as a Key Revolutionizer can be found here