Ian Thuillier is an Irish born photographer, award-winning filmmaker and former Sony World Photography Finalist. Despite only arriving into F1 in 2017, Ian has found himself hooked on Eau-Rouge and mastered capturing the unique atmosphere and sense of speed only found during a Grand Prix Weekend. He has also found time to publish a coffee table book entitled ‘The Art of Speed‘, which shows his F1 work along with stories and contributions from past and present drivers. If that’s not enough, he has also released a number of limited edition fine art prints.
What is the best image you have captured in F1 and why?
That’s a difficult question. I have a number of images that I really love for there own particular reasons. I can’t just narrow them down to one, unfortunately.
Two images that really stand out for me are the portrait of Nikki Lauda from Silverstone 2017 and Daniel Ricciardo coming through the tunnel in Monaco 2018.
The Niki Lauda shot signifies to me a captured, unguarded glimpse into the moment a man lets down his public guard for just a split second and I just happened to be staring through a lens right at that moment.
Just like the Ricciardo Monaco tunnel shot, it’s just a moment, a flashing moment that to be honest, I wasn’t even aware I was taking. I suppose they just happened unawares to myself and that is why they really appeal to me.
What is the best corner in the world to photograph? (Drivers say Eau Rouge – is that the same to photograph?)
I agree. Eau Rouge is rocking. It blows your mind the actual speed at which they come down from the hill, bottom out and rise without taking their foot off the gas. It’s exhilarating, to say the least. The first time I was at Spa was in 2017 and I stood there for the most ridiculous amount of time just staring dumbfounded at the speed of the car’s entry into Eau Rouge. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
How would you describe a successful Grand Prix Weekend?
I couldn’t really. Each race has its ups and downs, its highs and lows. But thankfully I have never come away from a weekend with useless shots. When that happens I’ll let you know. Hopefully that will never happen.
Is there a race or moment in F1 history you wish you had photographed?
Yes, I have never actually photographed a crash and one that really stands out is the Irish driver Derek Daly at the 1980 Monaco Grand Prix. I was really getting into F1 around that time and couldn’t believe my eyes when it happened on TV. I just saw slow motion when it was happening. To me, it was pretty spectacular.
What 3 items of kit can you not live without? (other than a camera and a camera bag!)
My monopod (which was knicked in Hungary – Thanks a lot asshole whoever took it), lens cleaner and worldwide plug adapters.
What is your background and do you remember the first picture you took?
I grew up in Dublin and the place to find me was the library up the road from my house. My first camera was a Kodak Tele-Ektra and I used to borrow F1 books and take photos of the photos in the books. I remember the first one was Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari.
Who influenced you and your work?
My late brother, Harry Thuillier Jr was my biggest influence, my best friend and the most original and creative artist I have known. He worked with large format photography. A 10×8 camera and produced the most beautiful platinum/palladium images. I would always spend a lot of time with him in his darkroom or being a subject for whatever test photographs he was making, so I got see a lot of what happens during the magic that is the alternative printing process.
When I was a kid we only had 2 TV stations at home and my best friend had loads more like BBC and UTV. I remember seeing an F1 race and being particularly mesmerised by the build-up to the race when they were getting ready on the grid. The helmets, the streamlined cars, the colour and advertisements – I was in awe and immediately hooked.
Was the journey to F1 similar to that of a driver? Starting off in junior categories and working your way up?
Not really. I happened to jump straight in after I took some shots of the 2017 Barcelona test. Someone spotted them and suddenly a door opened for me. Although that is not the normal route, I was just lucky I suppose. And also very thankful.
If you could follow any team or driver for a weekend, who would it be?
I would probably stick with the lower grid teams and drivers. They are more relaxed and chilled. Plus there is less media stress upon them so they allow a little more experimentation photographically. I did some shots with the Sauber team and Charles Leclerc in Mexico and that was pure joy.
Can you watch the race and take it in or are you too busy?
No way. I’m pretty much running on too much adrenaline to know what is going on or who is in what position during a race. I’m concentrating on exactly how to get the best shots I can.
Does the light make it difficult at each race?
Yes the light is generally crap. I wish the races were held at the break of dawn or end of day so I could shoot F1 in the Magic Hour…