This past July I traveled to Pittsburgh with my wife to hang out with good friends and go to the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix 2014 (PVGP). The PVGP is a vintage car show/race that takes place every year and is a family friendly event that raises funds to help disabled individuals in the Pittsburgh region. I was excited to go because I have a constant itch to photograph motorsports and this is a great opportunity to do so. With vintage cars racing on city streets, good views of the track are very accessible allowing me to get close to the action even in the absence of a media pass. There’s also a colossal amount of vehicle makes and models present for the car show.
It was fun to casually stroll around and shoot cars that caught my eye with the sound of race cars filling the air. And if we want to take a break from walking around and looking at the show cars, we can grab some local food from a food truck and set up chairs track side to watch vintage race cars battle it out. This is a very relaxing event to photograph and perhaps that’s why I enjoy it so much. Sure, if I were being commissioned to photograph the race for a big sponsor the pressure would be on. But, I wasn’t and it enabled me to shoot casually for fun and that’s when I usually produce some of my favorite images.
However, events like this do come along with some challenges. With so many people in attendance, it requires patience to get shots of show cars with large crowds around them. Some cars are so popular that getting people in the shot is inevitable, you just have to wait so they’re not directly in-between you and the car. But, sometimes you can use crowds to your advantage. I decided to experiment with a panning shot of a BMW 2002 racing and purposefully get people in the foreground of my shot. I was really pleased with the outcome because it created context for the environment and how close we were able to get to the action (while maintaining a safe distance of course). I then took that concept to the wooded areas and shot with trees in the foreground which was tough because the camera’s auto focus just wanted to focus on the trees. However, when I did get the cars in focus I was very happy with the outcome.
I ended up walking away from the event with some of my favorite shots I’ve made in a while and I had a great time hanging out with friends. My wife and I have made it a point to go to the PVGP every change we get because it’s such a good time and the funds go to a great charity. Also, if you plan to bring a camera, bring plenty of memory and batteries because there’s enough subject matter for you to have your finger on the shutter the entire time and still not capture everything.