Glenn Dunbar, Motorsport Photographer
“I’ll never forget the expression on his face. It was a very magical and amazing moment to capture in a photograph.”
Motorsport photographer, Glenn Dunbar, has been playing his trade in Formula 1 to great acclaim since 2002 when he began working for the leading Formula One Agency, LAT Photographic. Since then, he was worked with some of the biggest names in the world of motorsport – teams, drivers and sponsors.
His work has been featured regularly in high-profile motorsport outlets including F1 Racing Magazine, Autosport, Motorsport Magazine, Motorsport News, Racing Line Magazine.
A regular – and popular – face at Formula 1 races around the world, Glenn has also worked as the official photographer for the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team as well as with major brands operating in F1 including the likes of Unilever, JCB and Sport Pesa.
Moreover, in a career spanning two decades, he has also undertaken photographic work for the likes of Renault Formula One, McLaren, Brawn, Honda, ING, Martini, Diagio, GSK, Tata, Mercedes, LG, UBS, Rexona and Philips to name just a few.
In 2022, Glenn decided to go freelance and continues to work regularly with LAT & Aston Martin amongst others. Most recently, his shoot with Sebastian Vettel was featured in the latter’s widely-publicised feature profile with Attitude magazine in June 2022.
He sat down with SMG at the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2022 to chat about his work in F1 and what he has learned in two decades shooting the pinnacle of motorsport.
Where it all began…
The idea of doing this job came from my father who was also a Grand Prix photographer. When I was 19, I was working as a Bar Manager and more than happy not taking life too seriously, which annoyed him a bit! It got to a point where he asked me if I was thinking about a career or a ‘proper job’ as he called it…
I’d always loved my photography, taking photos at local concerts and circuits and so I thought he must think it’s a ‘proper job’ if he’d also done it. So, I started to explore those avenues to see where it would take me and look where I am now!
My role in 10 words or less…
Motorsport photographer for LAT images, paid for pushing a button.
Why what I do is important…
A a photographer in Formula 1 you give an insight into how you view a race weekend, especially when working with a team. You can really get in there and take imagery that you’d never see on the television. It gives fans these little snippets that you wouldn’t generally see because it’s one person’s perspective of a race weekend.
My first race…
My first F1 race was in a work capacity. Even though my father was an F1 photographer I never actually went to a race with him. I did accompany him to a few tests though when I was about 13 or 14 years old at Silverstone, which was pretty cool.
So…I think it must have been the 2001 British Grand Prix where I was tasked to shoot the F1 race from the fan perspective. But my first race of a full season would have been the 2006 Bahrain Grand Prix – that’s when I started doing every single race in a season.
My most challenging moment…
A difficult moment (or moments) is juggling responsibilities as a team photographer. The nature of team life in Formula 1 is unpredictable which makes getting all the required content and imagery particularly hard as plans often change without much notice.
You could plan your day out precisely but you would always need to be flexible for last minute team requests that could turn your plans on its head. It can be quite difficult to find the right balance and prioritise the huge amount of content needed for a race weekend.
My proudest moment…
Sergio Perez’s first win.
It was during Covid times when we were each assigned to a team. I was spending all this time with the team at Racing Point [now Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team] where I got quite close to everyone, so I really felt part of it when he crossed that finish line in Bahrain to take his first ever victory. The team was ecstatic, as was I cheering from behind the camera whilst taking a picture of him passing his team. It was a special a moment to be a part of.
After the race, I managed to sneak my way into his driver room when team personnel weren’t allowed; It was just me, his manager, and his physio. Sergio was on his physio bench, ovals around his waist and he was just talking on his phone to his family back home in Mexico. I’ll never forget the expression on his face. It was a very magical and amazing moment to capture in a photograph. That is definitely one of my fondest memories.
An F1 memory I’ll never forget…
A funny one I’ll always remember: My first race in Bahrain in 2006. I was the Williams official photographer and it’s the first year Nico Rosberg was driving for the team. I had a little bit of a past [relationship] with Nico as I photographed him throughout his career – I had photographed him in Euro F3 and worked for him shooting his races at Macau and the Korea Super Prix before being the official GP2 photographer in 2005. I was almost his shadow! At this point though, I hadn’t seen him in a while.
So…come the Thursday of the Grand Prix, it was my first day with the team. I walked into the garage, where Nico was doing a seat fit [when a driver makes sure they’re comfortable in the car before their first practice sessions on the Friday]. He looks up at me a bit confused and says, “What are you doing here?!” so I told him “Same thing as you Nico, I work for the team!” His face I’ll never forget it – he became flustered and backtracked claiming he knew that all along! His team thought it was hilarious so an early funny little driver-photographer interaction right there!
How I’ve worked with SMG
I’ve worked with SMG on a few occasions, but most prominently as photographer for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2022 race promoter.
The brief I received suggested that after the first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in 2021, the promoters needed more bespoke imagery and content to really highlight the race weekend from the perspective of the promoter.
We worked together to develop a content plan for the second race [in March 2022], showcasing every part of the F1 weekend through the lens of the camera: from fans engaging with the Fanzones, grandstands and premium hospitality areas to the on-track action as well as showing how brand partnerships and sustainability initiatives were activated across the three days by the promoter and its partners. We also captured photos of the Media BBQ welcome event in the paddock on the Thursday prior to the weekend as well as a visit to a local school with Aston Martin’s Driver Ambassador Jessica Hawkins where she spoke to the kids about her journey to date. I took some really sweet photos there!
Capturing all this content provided the promoter with images they could not only use during the race weekend itself but also for their 2023 promotional campaigns and marketing material.
For me it was a really interesting brief as I saw a completely different side to what goes into staging an F1 race weekend from a promoter’s perspective, something I found really insightful.
My advice to anyone wanting to become a motorsport photographer
My first bit of advice is to keep trying and don’t give up. Two is practice, practice, practice. You won’t become a photographer overnight and be able to go out and shoot what the guys around the track shoot straight away. Learn the basics, get those nailed and then start trying to be more creative.
I also think if you want to be a photographer nowadays, you should try your hand at videography too. There are some great guys up and down the paddock that can do both, so it’s a really valuable skill to have.
But overall, it’s about having that right attitude and ambition!