We recently had a chance to sit down and talk with local Atlanta on track action photographer Scott Harrison. His company, Point By Photography, has done some of the best on track action shots available to track day enthusiasts. However, we discovered there is a lot more to Point By Photography, and Scott, then just track day action shots.
While there are plenty of track and racer friendly photographers in the Atlanta car scene, Scott and Point By Photography standout. They are part of a new generation of action photographers who are blending unique perspectives, professional photography eye and technology to provide the kind of photos most people could only dream about. In fact, these new generation photographers go so far that they will literally be on track with you, instead of shooting from spectator.
Scott recently had a chance to sit down with us and talk what it is like to be strapped into a harness, getting into the hatch of an SUV and being driven around a race track at speed with cars following behind.
He also had a chance to tell us about his history around racing, his love of photography and what he is doing in the community to help to get a new generation of enthusiasts on track. And if you know anything about ShiftAtlanta’s mission, you know we loved that part of the discussion.
Not Just A Photographer, But A Driver And Enthusiast
Before we talk about Photography, let’s talk about you as a car enthusiast. Though, you are not your run of the mill enthusiasts who happens to take pictures on the side, are you?
Oh man, my experience with cars is like A Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”
Seriously though, I was a driver before I was a photographer, but I was shooting before I could drive, so figure that one out. My first real clear motorsport memory™ was watching NASCAR road racing at Riverside International Raceway (RIP), from the Robertson’s Ready Mix plant (double RIP), with my Dad (triple RIP). I have some great childhood memories in the Mohave playing in the dirt with dune buggies and dirt bikes, as well as playing with my Mom’s Canon AE-1 35mm film camera (rainbow neck strap and all!), so really, I don’t know which came first. What I do know is: Kayleigh cut her teeth on photography shooting me being slow with NASA-SE. The rest, well, as Charles Dickens would say “is nunya.”
My first car was a 1978 Datsun 280Z in Lightning Blue Metallic (quadruple RIP). That’s a story for another blog.
But, I am a track day driver, and like so many of us, I’ve got a tale of woe too.
Not Your Typical Track Side Photography Business
Talk to us a little bit about how you got started with Point By Photography, what you do and how you are different from so many other not just car photographers, but even track photographers.
We started as a track day photography team a little over two years ago. As I approached the end of my career in the Army, I gave myself two options: use my training, certifications, and experience to continue to serve the machine as a civilian or take a chance chasing my dream. I chose the latter and decided to use some of those skills in a less kinetic manner.
As a team, we spent a few years developing our skill set as camera slingers™; we approached track days as an opportunity to drive and shoot. We didn’t accept payment for photos and did it strictly as an exercise in building the skills necessary to be competitive at the professional level.
Two years into being full-time camera slingers™, I feel that we provide a service to our clients that is unparalleled. Point By isn’t a side hustle, we are both full-time photographers. Because of that, we find ourselves answering calls for 11th hour photoshoots often. We are a registered business and have an EIN. Additionally, we carry an absurd amount of business insurance. We have industry leading delivery time, and quality standards. That may sound like a lot of chest thumping, but we stand by it.
Action Photography Means Getting Into The Action
Tell Us A Little More About Your Practice OF Getting In The Harness And Riding In The Back Of An SUV To Get Those On Track Action Shots.
Rollers are fun, rollers on a racetrack are an absolute riot. There is something magical about hanging out of the back of an X5 as it zips down the Esses with a pack of Porsches hot on it’s heels. On a street, the road is predictable. However, on a track it’s like riding a roller coaster in reverse. Coordination with the drivers is key, and safety equipment is mandatory.
Our first crack at this was at Atlanta Motorsports Park with Project EG. Seyhan Kilincci had organized parade laps for disadvantaged children during lunch hour and he asked us to photograph it from the track. It just sort of became a regular thing after that. The first time was really sketchy, it was on the fly and we just kinda made it up as we went. As we have gained experience we have continued to reassess and refine.
Safety cannot be stressed enough, as well as carrying the proper business insurance. We use a fall prevention harness and ensure the camera slinger™ is secured to the camera vehicle. We use retention lanyards to secure our cameras. We ensure that all participants are briefed on the task, and fully understand their role. The most important part of dangerous dance is the driver of the camera vehicle. Luckily, I have the best. At this point she has more laps around AMP than I do lol.
Not Just Track Day Photography
What Events Do You Cover? Do you Only Work With Track Day Operators Or Do You Do Other Types Of Photography Work? How Do Your Photography Engagements Work
Our first year we mainly covered track days, World Racing League, and Greenpower USA races. In year two, we branched into auction photography for Broad Arrow Auctions. As petrol heads, Broad Arrow has been a huge opportunity for us. We get up close and personal with some super rare and absolutely beautiful cars, and sometimes we even get some behind the wheel time! One of my highlights was shooting a ’74 911 built by Magnus Walker and known as the Rotterdam Outlaw. I got to take it for a spin, and well, let’s just say an outlaw 911 is now on my short list.
Enthusiast And Racing Community Involvement
Hands down, the most important thing we do is our partnership with Cougar Strong Racing and Greenpower USA. Being in the pit and trackside with these young gear heads as they build, race, break, repeat has been a blessing. This program has also given us the opportunity to teach, coach, and mentor the next generation of motorsports photographers. Cougar Strong is the reigning national champions in all classes of F24 racing, and Drew Sparks, Devon Bane, Matthew Graham, and Chris Morris run phenomenal programs.
The Gear That Brings This To Life
What Kind of Camera Gear Do You Use (Nikon, Canon, Sony)?
Sony. I have been a Sony shooter for about twenty years. My first digital camera was a Sony and I just kinda stuck with the brand. When I bought my first Sony DSLR, I was hooked on the electronic view finder. Being able to see changes to shutter speed, aperture, and ISO in real time as you shoot is an absolute game changer, and now that mirrorless is the way, I’m grateful that I got my EVF sea legs a decade ago. We currently run two Sony α9 full-frame mirrorless cameras. My go to lenses are my Sony 200-600 G, Sony 24-70 f/2.8 GM, and my ancient 70-200 f/2.8 G. The 70-200 has been with me for 12 years. It was my first real lens and while the newer Sony lenses are amazing, this old Minolta re-brand just hits different. We also have a wide selection of prime lenses and a new non-relic Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM.
When Not On Track
What Do You Do When You Are Not Doing Photography Work? If You Are A Car Person, Tell Us About Your Car(s) Past/Present
Is “obsess about my business model, analyze market trends and technological changes” an acceptable answer? Normally, when we have down time, it is spent cleaning equipment, analyzing lessons from the most recent event, and preparing for the next event.
We haven’t really had time to get the track car back on the track for a full weekend, so the MINI is feeling neglected. She still gets out for the occasional spirited drive.
Did I mention that between us, we have 4 rabbits and 4 cats? There’s 24 hours in the day, you do the math.
Thoughts On Track Events And The Car Scene
What Do You Think The Car Scene Needs Most?
I’m going to quote Dave from HPDEjunkie.com here and say: drive fast, safely. There needs to be a focus on getting people to take it to the track. Be it drag, road course, rally, whatever, stop doing it on the street. Do it on a track. There are so many options in the Atlanta area.
What’s Your Favorite Track In Atlanta, Why?
To drive or shoot? Who am I kidding, Road Atlanta for both. As a camera slinger, I love Atlanta Motorsports Park. It’s staff is so friendly, and the track is absolutely stunning in the fall. Not really my cup of tea for driving though. I lean towards Road Atlanta for reasons that I believe Jeremy Clarkson would approve of: speed and power. Now don’t get me wrong, AMP is a blast to drive, but it’s not my jam. To set a consistent, fast, clean lap there takes skill and focus that I don’t have lol.
Can’t Miss Event
Point By Photography
You can hire Point By Photography is a number of ways. You can buy on track (where available) and track side photography packages at some of the areas popular track day events, including Atlanta Driving Society, Hooked On Driving, Motorsports MAFIA and more. You will also routinely find them at World Racing League, SCCA and BMW CCA events as well.
They are also available as cameras for hire for car shoots.
Contact Or Hire Point By Photography
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