Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 28 - So You Want To Be A MotoGP Photographer?

The latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast is something very special indeed. After the Austin round of MotoGP, David Emmett spoke to two of the finest photographers in the paddock, Scott Jones and Tony Goldsmith, about the challenges they face as motorcycle racing photographers.

It is a long and fascinating chat, covering a very wide range of topics concerning being a photographer in MotoGP. Scott and Tony talk about where their interest in photography came from, and how they ended up working as professional racing photographers. They talk about the technical challenges they face - not going into too much technical detail, so as not to confuse the photo-illiterate David Emmett - when shooting, such as dealing with the bane of the MotoGP photographer, heat haze.

As Tony has a long history of shooting at the TT on the Isle of Man, he explains the very different approaches and expectations of photography at the TT and MotoGP. Scott has spent some time shooting cars as well as bikes, and both he and Tony compare and contrast shooting cars and shooting motorcycles, and explain why taking pictures of motorcycle racing is much more interesting than taking pictures of cars.

There is naturally a discussion of favorite photos and favorite circuits, as well as what makes a track great for photography and what makes it bad for photography. Tony and Scott also talk about what they are looking for from a particular track, and from a particular shot. They talk about some of the mechanics of photography, and bring up things that fans often don't even think about: how the color scheme of a bike can make it hard to focus on it, and get a nice, clean shot of it. How a particular color can look fantastic in the flesh, but make reproducing it in print into a nightmare. 

There is some talk of the tools of the trade: Scott and Tony both briefly talk about the cameras and types of lenses they carry. For those interested in the gory details, Scott has two great posts on the PhotoGP website: one with the list of photo gear which he uses, and one with all of the kit he packs when he goes to a race.  There is even a discussion of the hardest part of the job of being a professional motorcycle racing photographer: actually making money.

One of the most interesting parts of the discussion was on planning a race weekend, and on the planning which can go into taking a particular photo. Both Scott and Tony give great insight, and we discuss one Scott's most famous photographs, "First in Flight", a remarkable shot of Marc Marquez coming over Turn 1 at Laguna Seca with both wheels off the ground. Scott wrote a fascinating blog piece on how he came to take that shot, giving great insight into how to go about creating such iconic photographs. There are a few prints of that photo, signed by Marc Marquez, still available on Scott's website.

The entire podcast was a pleasure to make, and makes great listening for motorcycle racing fans, fans of photography, and budding professional photographers alike. If you enjoyed the podcast, you can see more of Tony Goldsmith's work on his website, or on his Facebook page. You can see more of Scott Jones' work here on, at the Photo.GP website, on Twitter and Instagram, and of course on Facebook

If you are a budding photographer, and want to learn some of the secrets of the trade, then I highly recommend you join Scott Jones' Patreon page. By supporting Scott through Patreon, you get access to his tutorials on photographing motorcycle racing, as well as the chance of one-on-one tuition from him. You can see the short versions of his tutorial videos on Scott's Youtube channel.

Enjoy the show!

If you don't want to miss out on these episodes as they are released, make sure you follow The Paddock Pass Podcast on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to it on iTunes or Soundcloud. If you do use iTunes, please remember to rate the show and leave a review, as this helps other MotoGP fans find it. Enjoy the show!

Round Number: 

Back to top


I don't know, but looking back at how Rossi managed his pace and tyres on Sunday, I have a feeling he tried to suck Marquez into repeating his 2015 errors and crashing.


What do you guys think?

One of the people I studied photography with back in the '70s/'80s still works as an AP photographer in New Hampshire (US). He got me credentials for the Laconia AMA races back in '93, told me to have fun but if I got the leader crashing, he needed the shot.
Sent the pictures from those rolls around to various publications and ended up getting credentials a few times a year from American Road Racing Magazine from '94 to '98. This was pre-digital days so there was the added time of driving home/process/edit/mount/Fed Ex to editor to accomplish, and then sending out to various sponsors/manufacturers/tire companies/helmet companies... a ton of work with no promise of reward.
I was working as a freelance photographer in Boston at the time so I was fortunate enough to be able to do it in my spare time and really only hoped to break even (film, processing, travel, hotel, 600mm lens rental etc) which I managed to do, except for shooting Daytona. 
It was an experience I won't ever forget; got to travel to some incredible races, met some wonderful (and some not so...) people and got damn good at it. It is a particularly unique skill and a real thrill, to get so close in some turns that you can hear their knee pucks on pavement.
But I have no idea how someone could make a full-time living out of it and I have nothing but admiration for both the film shooters I met back then and for those who do it today. I look forward to listening to this podcast.

And now it can be told, my trade secret: I shot Fuji Velvia 50 slide film pushed +1 stop, the only film that accurately reproduced the old Honda purple and yellow leathers and fairings. 

I'm not, so I found it somewhat irrelevant and disappointing after the tragic and marvellous events at Catalunya.

I was hoping for post-race insight, but got a photography lesson instead - it was not want I was looking for.

The editing for this podcast was completed on Thursday, but I refrained from posting it then as it would have just gotten snowed under in the reporting of a race weekend. So I held it over until yesterday so that people would have a chance to discover it.

The post-Barcelona podcast was published a little later, and is available now. There, we discuss the Salom crash and the racing at Barcelona.

It used to be on Saturday indeed, as per 2016 races are on Sunday. Likely forced by commercial interest but many Dutch fans feel a tradition is lost.

Assen is the only track that has always appeared on the MotoGP calendar and it is the biggest sport event in The Netherlands. I remember the days watching 80cc races, apart from the 125' 250 and 500, and not to forget, motor sidecar racing. Those were the days, 'the night of Assen', very notorious.

Wow, such a great article and a beautiful insight of life behind the camera. I love this!