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FOCUS on Dan Bathie

People Culture

Meet Dan Bathie

Our FOCUS for this edition is Dan Bathie

Taking a love of cars and motorsport and turning that into your career is a dream for many, and Dan Bathie’s skill behind the shutter meant he’s been able to do just that.

Influx: How did you get into photography? 

Bathie: “It actually came from my love of motorsport. I’ve always been a huge fan of cars ever since I could speak really but I didn’t really get into photography until later. In fact, my parents gave me a Fisher Price camera one birthday and I just ended up taking photos of the ceiling. I wasn’t good! I borrowed my dad’s compact camera at the Renault World Series event at Donington in 2007 and found myself enjoying the challenge of capturing the event more than the event itself. From there I got myself a bridge camera, went along to a few events the next year and that was it – I was hooked.

“I used Flickr to share images and get critique and ended up getting my first professional job through a contact from Flickr. That turned into our creating own magazine, called l’endurance, with a guy called Jake Yorath. It really kick-started my career and I made a lot of contacts which in this industry is very helpful. It was actually one of these contacts that lead me to become a founding member of the Spacesuit collective. I met Shiv Gohil briefly one British GT race, sometime later I got a call out of the blue asking if I could cover for him for a Formula E race in Buenos Aires the next week! Next thing I knew, I was part of the team, flying all over the world covering Formula E with Spacesuit.”

Influx: What kind of subjects do you like to shoot?

Bathie: “Initially it was purely just cars, but as I learnt more about photography, the photography took over as my passion. I enjoy trying to capture the feel of an event or a place if I can – a race is much more than just cars, I’ve learnt. I really enjoy capturing mechanics and team members at work; they often get overlooked but have an incredibly important and tough job, so there’s often a lot of stories to tell. Recently I’ve done more road car shoots with my work for Porsche GB. It’s actually more different than you’d think from motorsport photography, often there’s a lot more you can control which takes some getting used to, but it’s a great challenge. In my spare time, I’ve been trying to do more landscape photography, just as a hobby.

Influx: Are there any images you’re particularly proud of?

Bathie: “There are a few that stick with me, sometimes it’s more for the moment than maybe technically how good the image was. I tend to be quite a harsh critic on myself though, and so while I might love a set of images straight after I’ve taken it, looking back a week, or even a year later I won’t be so happy. It keeps me trying to produce better shots which is a good thing I suppose!

“The 24 Hours of Le Mans race always offers opportunities to capture amazing images that I can really be proud of. I think it’s a combination of the circuit which is like no other and the history of the place. I feel very privileged whenever I get to go trackside at Le Mans.

Bathie Le Mans

“This shot was taken at sunset last year. You always hope for a proper sunset, and that year we got one. That light, that circuit, those cars. It’s a great moment not just as a photographer but as a fan of the sport.

“Another shot that stands out is one from the British Grand Prix in 2016. After the race, I waited in the pit lane in case Lewis Hamilton came out to celebrate with the thousands of fans. He appeared finally and a mad scramble broke out trying to capture him. It was chaotic but I managed to be at the right place when he reached down to a young fan. It’ll always be a favourite image of mine.”

Bathie Lewis Hamilton

Influx: How do you feel about camera phones?

Bathie: “Honestly my phone is one of my favourite cameras. When you carry so much camera gear around for your job at races, there’s something so nice at having a camera that’s in your pocket! Having it with you all the time means you can capture things you’d miss otherwise. In 2012 I went to Le Mans and left all my DSLRs behind and just took my phone and used Instagram to capture the event, which we then made into an online issue for the magazine I was working with. It was actually a big hit and one of my favourite pieces of work. Phones seem to have got more people into photography now as well, which I think is great. Photography should be fun.”

Influx: Is there a particular race, race series, person or vehicle you’d love to shoot one day?

Bathie: “I feel very lucky to have ticked a lot of my photography bucket list off, but there’s a lot I still want to shoot. I’d love to shoot NASCAR and also the Indy 500 – Americans do the show side of sport very well so there’s a lot of colour and drama to capture. WRC is always something I like to do, it’s so difficult but very rewarding when you get it right. I’ve done the Monte Carlo Rallye once but would love to do it again with more snow and more preparation!

“Formula One was always the goal when I started getting into photography but it’s faded a bit for me. I was lucky to get to shoot the British Grand Prix twice as a prize for winning the MSA Young Motorsport Photographer of the year in 2016 and while it was an amazing experience, it was just a bit sterile really. Saying that, if ever the opportunity came around to shoot the Monaco Grand Prix I’d take it!

“What’s great about working with Spacesuit and Spacesuit Collections is that there’s always an opportunity to do something new and cool. The Spacesuit team is always looking for new ideas for shoots or events to cover, and I know that I can photograph whatever it is in an artistic style. You never know what’s going to be around the corner!”

Influx: What makes a good photo?

Bathie: “That’s a very tricky question! For me, I’m happiest with my own work when I make the best use of a certain lighting condition, or capture that one moment of elation, sadness, interaction, whatever it may be. I think knowledge of the subject you’re shooting really helps to get the best photos: you know what to look out for, whether it be a car sparking at a certain place or a driver rivalry that could come to blows. Sometimes it is pure luck that you get a great photo, but I think planning comes into it a lot.”

Influx: What advice would you give yourself if you could travel back ten years?

“I suppose I would tell myself to experiment more with photographic styles and portraits, rather than focusing so much on motorsport – take my camera out a bit more, build up those skills that can be applied to any genre.

“When I started, I thought OK, I’m taking pictures of cars, so that’s all I really need to do. I know now that there’s much more to it than that!”

More of Dan Bathie’s work can be found on his website or at Spacesuit Collections.