FOCUS on Shivraj Gohil
Meet Shivraj Gohil
Our FOCUS for this edition is Shivraj Gohil
Being thrown in at the deep end made sure Gohil was at the top of the game from day one. From there, it was up to him to make sure his photography stood up to the test. We spoke to the approachable photographer about his work.
Influx: Why and how did you get into motorsport photography?
Gohil: “It’s a combination of love for motorsport and a love for photography. I’m a 3rd generation photographer & everyone’s a petrolhead in my family, most of them grew up in East Africa and the only sporting event they were exposed to was the Safari rally. In turn while growing up I was exposed to a lot of motorsport, F1 was always on the television and I remember getting the racing game ‘Super Monaco GP’ for my Sega Mega drive’ – I was totally hooked!
“I had been a wedding photographer for 5 years before I even attended a motorsport event with my camera. Beginning of 2012 I decided to go to the F1 tests at Barcelona, as a Michael Schumacher fan I had a gut feeling he would be retiring at the end of the year and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to too see him in action. My images from the test were showcased on a F1 website, and it all started from there.”
Influx: So how did you go from fan to pro?
Gohil: “The next race I attended was the Monaco GP 2012. I paid through the nose to get yacht & terrace access during the weekend, after Monaco I went to the 1st USA GP in Austin at the Circuit of the Americas.
“The following year in 2013, the website that published my images from the year before had no photographers available to attend a pre-season F1 test, so they gave me the accreditation pass I needed to gain full paddock and track access – so I actually began my professional career in F1!”
Influx: And how did the work with Spacesuit begin?
Gohil: “Ross [Ringham] saw my images from Jerez F1 testing in 2014 via Twitter, and offered me a chance to work alongside him to capture images for the new up and coming race series, Formula E. Ross would talk to clients & obtain the photography contracts & I would stick to what I knew best – photography. Over the years I have become an unofficial ambassador to Formula E, I tell everyone about the sport & so many people love watching it now! I’ve been there from the very beginning from the very first Donington test through to the beginning of Season 4. I have seen the sport grow, only missing two races due to wedding photography commitments.
“We’ve built up a lot of great relationships with Formula E drivers and when they race in other categories such as WEC, we shoot personally for them & that’s helped us grow as an agency. We’ve covered the Le Mans 24 hour race over the last 3 years and our client list has included current Formula E champion Lucas Di Grassi, Nico Prost, Bruno Senna & Jean Eric Vergne.”
Influx: Does your love of photography extend to road cars, too?
Gohil: “For me personally, I’m not really too interested in road cars that much. I love motorsport because I find the whole soap opera of sport fascinating, the drivers, the fans, capturing key moments in victory and sorrow, I just love the drama, bit like a wedding.”
Influx: How has your work with Spacesuit changed?
Gohil: “We often need multiple photographers present for a race or event, I’m the principal photographer but we have a lot of great talent & we like to give new talent a chance. There are a few of us now, Ross still deals with the admin side of things, while the rest of us stay behind the camera.”
Influx: How do you feel about camera phones and Instagram etc?
Gohil: “Now that’s a tricky one to answer! I can’t knock Instagram too much as I use it to promote my images to fans & even the drivers.
“Photography in mainstream media is no longer about the quality of the image – it’s about how fast you can get that image to the masses. Marketing is absolutely key in in this day and age, an image does not have to be fantastic now to be successful, it just needs to be promoted well.
“You could argue that talent comes second to marketing expertise if you want to be a successful photographer.”
Influx: Is there a car, driver or race series you’d like to photograph?
Gohil: “I wish I could turn back time & photograph F1 in the Schumacher years. I would have loved to have shot Group B sports car racing and Group C rallying back in the ’80s and ‘90s as well. Not only because the series’ had beautiful cars and iconic drivers, but the tracks had fewer restrictions for photographers, health and safety was pretty much non existent.
“As for current racing events, Dakar, Pikes Peak Hill Climb, The Indy 500 and the Macau GP are all on the bucket list!”
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