During the 6 hours of Bahrain we´ve had the chance to talk to the ambitious WEC photographer Marcel Langer about his professional career and his future plans in motorsport photography. Read what the talented and likeable “man behind the lense” had to say in the following interview.
The copyright of all pictures in this article belongs to Marcel Langer, shooting for Adrenal Media (www.adrenalmedia.com) in the FIA WEC.
Let´s start with the most important question first: How did you get into the professional motorsport photography business?
That`s a good question. I´ve started with motorsport photography as a hobby and I´ve always been interested in motorsports. I think it was about 5 years ago when I first went to a drifting event at Hockenheim, Germany. I´ve still been sitting on a grandstand back then. I enjoyed it a lot and after that, I started to try to get closer to the action. That have already been the first steps basically and it was logical for me to go further into that direction.
How do you imagine your future in motorsport photography? What are your long-term plans?
Long-term plans? To establish myself, which is kind of difficult because there are so many good photographers out there that have a photography style similar to mine. But yes, the aim is to establish myself on a log-term basis in WEC, shoot GT cars, the LMP1. If I ever got a chance to do something in Formula 1 I definitely wouldn´t decline such an offer, but it isn´t a must. Everything connected with motorsports and sports in general is something I enjoy doing a lot. To establish myself in a way that people recognise me, that they know my name and book me based on my skills, that´s the plan.
You´ve already said that there are a lot of other photographers in the business who tend to have a similar photography style to yours, do you have any role models or idols in motorsport photography?
Well, I wouldn´t say that I have any role models. There are a lot of photographers who I highly appreciate, the ones who have kind of an “artistic” style. Nick Dungan is a really good one…others are Vladimir Rys, Darren Heath, the famous and popular faces in motorsport, especially in Formula 1. There are also many, many other super talented photographers out there who are not yet as famous as the big names in the business and who simply haven´t had their breakthrough yet.
Where do you get your inspiration from? I can imagine it being quite difficult to constantly provide new and “fresh” pictures.
Amongst other things I´m getting my inspiration from the photographers I´ve mentioned before. I´m taking a look (not always, but quite often) at their pictures when I am at a new race track for the first time ever. I am looking for the pictures that look impressiv and try to do similar shots but with my own interpretation and composition. The pictures always turn out differently because the sourroundings and circumstances are always different ones. Next to this I listen a lot to music which also inspires me. I´m not the kind of guy who has a special music style that I prefer, I´m basically listening to everything. And impressive colours. I love colours and if you can reflect colours in the pictures then it is even more beautiful.
Is there any picture you´ve about which you say that this is the best shot you´ve done so far?
Yes, this picture was taken at Bahrain at the WEC last year, my Audi winner shot. This is the one that I personally like the most. That moment when the Audi crossed the finish line for the last time, the Audi mechanics running down the start-finish-line with their Audi flags and waving them, that was simply perfect. I´ve thought a long time about what I´d like to do and in the end, this was the only position left that I was able to find. I was pretty lucky with that and I´ve made the best out of it.
If you take a look back on everything you have achieved in motorsport photography so far, what have been your biggest challenges?
I really wouldn´t say that I´ve achieved anything big yet. I´ve only been in the professional motorsport business for about a year. I was able to make a lot of experiences already and…challenges? The most challenging task is to keep up the same quality in your pictures all the time. Motorsport photography has been a hobby only at the beginning. I went to an event and only took pictures for myself or for friends. Now it is my profession. When you have a contract, which for me is with the Agentur Adrenal Media for the FIA WEC recently, and you have to deliver a certain quality, that really isn´t easy sometimes when you have a stressful day, when you have many other topics to handle next to your photography. But up to now everything went quite well for me.
If you gave an expert advice to someone who tries to get into professional motorsport photography, which advice would that be?
I´ve asked exactly the same thing to another photographer some time ago. He told me: “If I had given you an advice, it would have been to never start with it. The glorious and best times are over already.” Maybe they are, maybe they aren´t, I can´t say that. A good advice is, go out to the race tracks or take whatever you get to start with motorsport photography, even if it is a karting track only. Or in Germany, for example, go to the Nürburgring, even if it is to catch the tourist tours only. Go out, try to become as good as possible, compare your photography with that of the really good photographers and try to become better than them. If you really want to become a professional motorsport photographer, wait with it until you feel for yourself that your work is good enough. That was the way I´ve done it. I´ve waited a long time to take the next step and I´ve been thinking a lot about if I should do this or not. In the end, my family and friends were the ones who encouraged me to try it and it actually paid off and goes well for me at the moment.
A big thank you to Marcel, who took the time to share his experiences and thoughts on a tight race weekend during the 6 hours of Bahrain with us.
If you are interested to see more of Marcel´s work, check out his website http://www.marcellanger.com/ and make sure to follow him on his social media channels.