The challenges women face in motorsport photography


Motorsport photography is not a space traditionally associated with or particularly welcoming to female photographers, but one woman – Alison Arena – has made a name for herself in the industry and is now leading others to follow suit.

Motorsport photography, like any other type of sports photography, can exalt both the viewer and the photographer. It is a genre of photography that allows photographers to create powerful stories of intense emotions, technological advancements and techniques, unique moments that can instantly change the outcome of the race and the achievements of the sports professionals there. participate.

As a genre of niche sports photography, it’s not as popular among female photographers, but Ignite Media’s photographer Arena – along with Mazda, Red Bull, Ferrari NA and Wired among past clients – has proven it can be a career path to break through and does so successfully and with passion.

Arena got into motorsport photography as part of her class projects at school and found that she was very interested in it, especially drifting. She started out photographing races that she attended as a fan, honing her photography skills step by step with each event.

“Drift shooting as a growing sport has allowed me to grow with the sport and have so much more access to it than if I had started in a bigger series of races,” says Arena. “Eventually I gained a few clients and then moved up the ranks from there.”

In all aspects of racing there are very few women involved, which is why Arena has taken it upon herself to work harder than her counterparts to prove herself in the world of motorsport – a world filled with energy. masculine – and to gain the respect of peers.

“I feel like part of my job is to remove my femininity, which sometimes ages a bit,” she says. PetaPixel.

On the other hand, being one of the few female photographers in motorsport also works to her advantage to some extent.

“I stand out, so I’m memorable and people are thinking about hiring me for future gigs or going out of their way to see what my job is like,” Arena says. However, it can quickly become overwhelming to stand out and constantly have to prove yourself or show others that she can be “one of the guys.”

Understanding the issues faced by women and minorities who may not have seen motorsport photography as an area in which they can enter and excel, Arena has also focused its efforts on coaching and education for them. help sharpen their skills, build a powersports portfolio, and gain confidence.

In action at the clinic, by Christian Pondella
In action at the clinic, by Christian Pondella
In action at the clinic, by Christian Pondella

Arena recently hosted a photography clinic that gave female photographers a crash course in shooting competitions like the Red Bull Tennessee Knockout, with enduro champion Cody Webb participating to give photographers a moving subject. Attendees included photographer Amy Lentz and Alyssa Del Valle, who wanted to strengthen their motorsport photography skills, as well as Wrenne Evans, who comes from the world of concert photography and worked under the direction of renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz and spent years on tour with the singer-songwriter. Maggie Rogers.

In action at the clinic, by Christian Pondella
In action at the clinic, by Christian Pondella
In action at the clinic, by Christian Pondella

Arena believes that the motorsport industry is generally becoming more inclusive, but it will still take time for it to fully materialize.

“I think it’s important to make women and minorities aware that it’s an option to shoot in a race,” she said. “Since you don’t see a lot of female motorsport photographers, a lot of women might not even think that’s an option. It is important to clarify that this is a path that can be followed and that it is not beyond their reach.

More information about Arena’s work can be found on their website and Instagram page.


Image credits: All powersports footage by Alison Arena, all behind-the-scenes footage from the clinic by Christian Pondella via Red Bull Content Pool, and used with permission.


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