Radio Interview Transcripts

MorePhotos Radio - Photography Extraordinaire


Welcome to the More Photos Radio Photography Spotlight brought to you by helping professional photographers with all their internet needs worldwide. Also brought to you by Finally, an e-commerce solution for professional photo labs that makes sense. Now here is your host, Damien Allen.
DAMIEN: Good morning and welcome to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen and joining me today on the phone is Dan Shafer of Photography Extraordinaire. Welcome to the program, Dan.
DAN: Good morning. Nice to hear your voice; nice talking to you.
DAMIEN: It’s a pleasure to have you on the show with us today, sir. Now you specialize in action and event photography. How long have you been doing this, Dan?
DAN: Next year it will be about 30 years.
DAMIEN: So it’s 30 years of this and I understand that you are really interested in racing. What got you interested and focusing on racing?
DAN: I had an invitation to shoot the Dirt Roundy Round back in 1982 and that is basically when it started. Before that I did a lot of nature photography, I did some forensic stuff for law enforcement agencies, you know, motor vehicle accidents and so forth, and then the Roundy Round race track seemed very interesting and that’s where it all started. I started at Flemington Speedway in Flemington, New Jersey, back around 1982.
DAMIEN: Now is that an oval track, or figure 8?
DAN: It started as an oval track for decades and eventually went over to an asphalt track and then closed because of the economy or whatever.
DAMIEN: Auto racing that’s an extremely fast sport and with all these action shots and the cars are going extremely fast. How do you capture those images at those speeds?
DAN: I tell people when they ask me that it’s a matter of practice. It’s a learning level that you just in the beginning you don’t know what you have, of course, back in those days we were doing regular film so we really didn’t know what we had until we got our film developed and saw if the whole car was in the frame. That is one of the biggest problems is making sure the vehicle, whether it is a dragster or a Roundy Round or Moto-cross or quarter midget or whatever it is actually get the car centered. The speed isn’t too much as being able to practice that panning so you can actually get the whole vehicle. And even now days even with the digital they go so fast, I mean, when I shoot Nascar that’s up to 200 mph when I was doing Daytona and there is some times that you only get half a car. So you learn how to pan and then primarily as a motor sports photographer I shoot basically around a 500th of a second sometimes 750th on the dragsters that are going 300 mph. Maybe we’ll go to 1000th of a second, possibly at an F8 or a 5.6 so it’s a learning process.
DAMIEN: What would be the best tip you could give to a photographer who wants to shoot action like that?
DAN: Practice, Practice, Practice. I’ll tell you it might sound silly, but if you live on a busy street sit out on your front lawn with a lawn chair and take pictures of cars coming by. Especially with digital now, we can see immediately what we have and that way you can adjust your depth of field, what your camera is capable of doing. If you don’t shoot at a race track, some people have neighborhoods that are a race track. You just practice on cars going by your house.
DAMIEN: So where is the studio located, Dan? 
DAN: I work out of my office in Jackson, New Jersey. Right now I am basically assigned to one track. I am the track photographer for New Egypt Speedway which is a dirt track now so probably a little under a half mile up in New Egypt, New Jersey. I used to do NHRA; did that for years. I did Daytona, Charlotte, Pocono, and Dover. I still do NASCAR for Dover so as you go on…I have maybe 10,000 – 15,000 photos in my stock pile here. Probably some of it is unique, especially stuff for those who aren’t here anymore like Dale Earnhardt. I had the opportunity to have lunch for him the week he got killed, and I took a bunch of pictures that week, and I put a little portfolio together on the last week in the life of Dale Earnhardt. There’s so much there through the years, it just keeps piling up and you have just about every type of motor sport. Even motorcycle ice racing which was an exciting thing to do also.
DAMIEN: That’s something we get to see quite a bit up here in Northern Michigan. I grew up in Detroit and there was a dragway and there was a couple of circle tracks and a figure 8 track and a lot of those are gone now and our racing season up here in Northern Michigan for dirt track or asphalt track is really short, because we have basically 9 months of winter. How long is the racing season in New Jersey?
DAN: It starts in April and usually ends up sometime late September-Mid-October.
DAMIEN: So about the same.
DAN: Yeah, it’s about the same.
DAMIEN: Do you do other types of photography, now, or are you strictly motor sports?
DAN: I am primarily motor sports. I have another company called Crisis Intervention and I take photographs that I use for training. I was recently in Joplin after the tornado and I took a ton of photos, and when I come back I use those photos in my training classes on dealing with local disasters and so forth. And I worked at 911; actually when 911 happened, I was there and I probably have 2,000 – 3,000 photos just from 911…all in good taste. There is nothing graphic that I have available. Life. Life is a shot and you never know what you’re going to get and the impact it is going to make on the people that are searching for various types of picture.
DAMIEN: Besides the motor sports and the crisis intervention stuff are there other services you provide?
DAN: No, not really. That keeps me pretty busy.
DAMIEN: Well the motor sports and the crisis intervention…a lot of cool stuff going on. Do you have any other venues or anything new happening for the rest of 2011, Dan?
DAN: Just every Saturday night at New Egypt Speedway plus the mid-week shows. We had You Sack this year which is always a big show. We had the ORC sprint cars so by the time you finish on a Saturday and you’re working on your pictures on Sunday and Monday, you’re getting ready for the next week.
DAMIEN: In deed. If someone is interested in the motor sports and the photography that you do, how do they contact you, where do they find you on the web?
DAN: They can go to my website. It’s and there are mostly racing photos up there. Primarily I throw some photos up there from Joplin, because some of the people asked if they could see them and so right now it is primarily motor sports. I haven’t had a chance to do much Moto-cross this year. I’m going to try to do some Moto-cross possibly an NHRA race. So it’s
DAMIEN: We’d like to thank you very much for joining us today, Dan.
DAN: Yes sir.
DAMIEN: We’ve been speaking with Dan Shafer of Photography Extraordinaire of Jackson, New Jersey. You have been listening to More Photos Radio. My name is Damien Allen. Everybody have a great afternoon.
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