Canon Ambassador Frits van Eldik grew up surrounded by cars, so it was only natural that in his photography career he would shoot Formula One, travelling the world to capture all the big moments in motorsports. While living in the fast lane, often quite literally, Frits feels the thrill of not missing a single moment. Today however, he is looking at his passion differently, elevating these moments of speed and drama into art, painting them with light.
“My father used to have a Fiat Lancia garage, so I grew up in-between cars. Photography was his hobby and so he would take pictures on Sundays and the kitchen would become a dark room. It was only during winter when he started to print his pictures – and I was allowed into the kitchen – that I became interested. Watching him put a piece of paper into liquid and seeing the image appear on paper was magic to five year old me.
I was lucky that my father’s garage took me to races and rallies, and he gave me a camera to take along. The first time I took it to a circuit, with a film of 36 frames, I finished the film within 10 minutes, so that was my first lesson learned; that you need to understand what you are taking pictures of and when you need to capture them. At the age of just 11, I decided I wanted to be a motorsports photographer and everyone around me laughed, but I knew it was what I wanted. I spent my weekends at races and in my father’s garage, I started to read books about photography and was inspired by motion pictures I saw in magazines and books. A magazine I discovered at the time, Grand Prix International, is still a part of my life and always had stunning images from Formula One by Bernard Asset.
There was a lot of movement in the images with stripes in the backdrop, and the wheels were moving instead of being frozen. Seeing these images, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. It’s funny because now Bernard is a good friend of mine. A lot of my colleagues were also inspired by him, and when we are all out photographing together we always ‘blame’ him. In Formula One, there are about 65-70 photographers, all of whom are very skilled, but there is a lot of respect. We raise the bar for each other and help to keep each other challenged. There is a nice sense of camaraderie – it’s basically a group of friends who see each other every two weeks in different parts of the world.