Gabi Tomescu is the only Romanian FIA (International Automobile Federation) official photographer. I met him about two decades ago, when I was “shooting” shoulder to shoulder in the field of Romanian motorsport. Since then I noticed that his pictures are much more different than anyone else’s. They were not only artistic photos but snapshots of a vehicle on a Special Stage.
The first question from this interview is the same I asked you 10 to 12 years ago: what is it that you do differently than the rest of us that makes your photos look so good? His answer: I’m preparing for it! To be more specific, I go to the Special Stage and test the terrain a day before the event, at exact the same time when the cars are racing in the day of the event. I do this to test the light, see where it lays from the angles from which I want to shoot!”
I am sure that this training is much more laborious, especially now – in FIA endurance races! Therefore, I will ask the very same question I asked you 12 years ago: How do you prepare for a race?
Hello. I’m glad we are completing the interview even after all this time. My process of getting ready hasn’t changed that much since then. Nowadays, however, we have the luxury of relying on apps that tell us the position of the sun at a certain time, weather forecast, etc. Preparations begin before leaving my house, starting with my equipment, which must be very well organized. There are races all over the world from Europe to Brazil, Mexico, Japan, China, etc. Each country has certain rules about what you can and cannot bring with you in your luggage, so first make sure you have everything in order. Documents must be taken care of, accommodations, car rentals and all the boring stuff. This become more exciting when you start planning for the race. First, I receive the Orga Book which is a summary of the event right from the beginning. As an official photographer, you are responsible for capturing everything related to this event.
Once I’m on the circuit I shift into high gear. First and foremost, I fill in the IPTC in Photo mechanics. The Head Office sends me detailed information about each car. When you upload a photo for the news, it must contain detailed information such as the race number, the name of the pilot, the circuit, the location, etc.
After all these, I take my list and I start to tick off what I’ve already put in my schedule. I start by photographing the auto-mechanics unloading the cars from the trucks, preparing the garages, the drivers washing the trucks, mostly everything related to the preparations for the race. The coordinators work very hard for these events so they make sure every procedure is being captured on camera. The sponsors are very important therefore, I have to make sure they are included in my shots.
Now is when I finally hear the engines roaring. After the first day of setup we start the location planning, here is when you are free practicing and must use precision. It can take up to an hour since these tracks have over 15km in lenght. I have no time to lose so I take this process very seriously.
Your photographs are artistic! Do you have the freedom of doing whatever you want or do you have to follow a set of rules?
I do have the freedom but to an extent. The schedule is so hectic that you cannot be artistic and efficient at the same time. There are conflicts of interest between engineers, sponsors, and everyone else. Even if I have a good spot I must be careful to not have two brands in the same shot. As an official photographer, you must be aware of your surroundings so your pictures relate to what’s going on. You must capture the crew members from the race and from free practice as well as the qualification members. The expressions, the pilots, the auto-mechanics, the fans. It’s so elaborated that not even the 24h races are long enough for you to shoot everything you planned to.
What are the things you like and dislike when you photograph car races?
I like everything that has to do with races, not just the car segment. I like everything about it! When I step foot in the race track or the rally stage I am in my own world.
How many of your photographs have been on the front page of the FIA website?
I have no idea, I don’t keep track of it… I have to admit I was ecstatic about it the first few times it happened but now I am more interested in having displayed only the ones that represents me, not just another ’news’ picture.
What is a ruined photography to you?
A ruined photograph is a photograph which did not turn out the way you wanted to when you clicked on the button. I guess…
What would you say If i told you that you became an official FIA photographer because you were lucky not beucause you are good at what you are doing?
I’ve been lucky from the moment I started to make a living form motorsport photography. There are plenty of photographers which shot their whole life on the racing circuits and dream to work for WEC (World Endurance Championship). So without blinking an eye I can say that I was very lucky.