Milan Kubín: I Don’t Photograph Motorcycle Races for the Adrenaline. What’s Important Is to Capture the Energy.
Milan Kubín’s specialty as a photographer and editor is motorcycle races. He’s already shot pictures at the world’s most important races, and he’s among the best in his field. Top-rate motorcycle race photography brings with it a major dose of danger, as well as the need to work precisely and react swiftly to events on the track. How does he handle these challenges, and what does road-racing photography actually mean for him? You’ll find out in this interview.
Name: Milan Kubín
Web link: www.czechroadracing.cz
Who I am: A road racing fan
What I Photograph: Road racing
Besides getting sharp pictures, what other concerns should a photographer have at a race?
Not standing where they shouldn’t. That’s the foundation. Then of course it’s important to have some respect for your colleagues. The spots to stand in are sometimes small, there’s only one ideal position, and more than one of us wants to be there.
Have you or your camera ever come to harm at a shoot?
Fortunately not, if I don’t count a few scratches from climbing over barbed wire in pastures and so on.
What does adrenaline mean for you?
I don’t even know. I don’t do it for the adrenaline. And I think it would be bad to do that. I like this sport, and I try to capture it. That’s all. But if anything, sometimes I feel scared, and then I try to find a different spot. I don’t want to find fame by dying to a motorcycle and making extra work for the organizers and racers.
How important is a photo’s energy for you?
Very. I’m still not that good at it, but especially in road racing, it’s important, in my opinion, for the racers’ unbelievable speed and their battles with their bikes to be visible. That’s probably what I like the most about it all.
What haven’t you managed to get into a photo yet?
I don’t know how to photograph the atmosphere around the track. My galleries are often just about the motorcycles, and that’s a bit boring.
When you look back a few years, in what ways are your photos different today? How have you shifted?
I try to make their technical quality improve and to shoot from slightly different spots each year. And I think it’s working out, at least a little. I’m also trying to take fewer pictures, but prepare for them better and find the ideal spots.
People often think of you as just a motorcycle photographer. What else do you like to photograph?
Actually after a race, I’m glad I can lay down my camera. But when I do take other pictures… I like photographing landscapes when I’m out on trips. I’m not very good at it, and I’m too lazy to go somewhere at 5 a.m., but all the same these photos make me happy.
Are there any challenges that you’ve refused and now you regret it?
No, I think. I’m lucky; I photograph what I want. I try to accept every challenge that interests me.
What challenges, meanwhile, do you shy away from, out of a lack of time or of experience/equipment?
I don’t know of any such things within my genre. In road racing I photograph the biggest races on the planet. Naturally I’d like to also try something out of the other motor sports, but there hasn’t been a chance so far. I know I have big reserves in my equipment and my abilities, but everything deserves a try.
What do you base your photo organizing on?
Whatever I need. I generally have an assignment from my clients on what to deliver after the race, and I have to fulfill that as quickly as possible. When a photo is sharp, I use it right away. For my website or social media, I often choose photos that have a story from finished races behind them.
What kind of music do you listen to when you’re working with photos?
Usually none at all. Instead I usually have the television on during the job.
What’s the biggest thing someone can do to make you happy?
That’s probably too general a question for me. But when it comes to photography, I’m happy when the people I’m photographing for are happy. And sincere praise from my colleagues makes me happy too.
What advice would you give to someone whose enthusiasm has brought them to their first DSLR?
As far as races go, I’d tell them not to photograph everything. I tried to do that at the start, and it was really stupid. Less is more, and that’s true here as well. The feeling that I have to photograph everyone and everything just turns it all into a giant, boring gallery somewhere on Facebook.
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