How I took my first ever F1 photos - the Dutch Grand Prix 2023

If you had told me a year ago that I would be attending the Dutch Grand Prix weekend in 2023 I would have laughed in your face. In the beginning of the year, I wouldn’t have dreamt about attending a Formula 1 event so soon. But due to a spontaneous decision on my side, I was able to return to the Circuit Park Zandvoort only two months after visiting the track for the first time. It was my goal to take as many good pictures of the F1 cars and the beautiful beachside venue as possible. This trip, even before it started, had impossible value to me. On this day, I would be able to take the pictures that could give me working opportunities in the future.


This time I took the train to get to Zandvoort, as I had one travel day on my Interrail ticket from my trip to the UK left. I took the first train in the morning over the border to Hengelo at 5:30 am. Here I encountered the first Fans decked out in Red Bull gear and of course the colour orange. In Amersfoort, we squished ourselves into an overpacked train to Amsterdam, from where we took the train to Zandvoort. The busy platform in Amsterdam meant that the journey took about an hour longer than it usually would. I was however impressed by the organisation of the train service. Every five minutes, a train would leave from Amsterdam to Zandvoort and back. The trains were full but never crowded and everybody was able to take a seat. Something I doubt to be possible in Germany.

Due to the longer travelling time, I arrived at the track at the end of the Formula 2 practice session. This was slightly unfortunate as I had hoped to be able to practice my photography on these fast but obviously still slower cars.

As I had been at the track earlier this year during the DTM and F1 Academy weekend, I had already planned from which spots I wanted to take my photos. But as I made my way to my favourite spot, I already noticed that all the holes in the fences for hobby photographers were closed before the event. When I arrived at my favourite spot between turn 4 and 5, I had to realize that they had also closed off the very top of the dune. Food and water trucks were blocking my spot. Improvising was now needed as this was the only spot I had been able to take good panning shots at in June. The straight between turn 1 and 2 was the only other real option, but I had not taken a single picture from that place before.


The experience I had gathered over my previous motorsport photography trips made me believe in myself, but also put me under pressure. I knew that I had made progress, but this was the real test. The cars would be a lot quicker than anything I had photographed before; this would show if I had the skill and equipment to continue this journey. Looking back, I shouldn’t have put myself under as much pressure as I did that day. It really felt like an all or nothing moment, when in reality I could have just kept practising if I wasn’t happy with the results. But I wanted the money and travelling to pay that I had invested in this day.

I was shocked when the first Formula 1 cars came by. Of course, I knew they were going to be fast. But they were so fast that I seriously questioned how anybody on earth was able to take photos of these cars driving. After the first couple shots, I was close to giving up and thought about just enjoying the day as a normal fan. I did not only doubt myself, but also my equipment. Maybe I should wait a couple of years until I had more experience and a better camera. But I did not want to believe that I drove all this way to not use the time that I had. Two practice sessions meant two full hours of driving F1 cars and the Formula 2 qualifying with slower cars. I had lots of time to improve during these sessions.

At the end of the day, I was very proud of my results. During the entire first practice hour, I focused on getting at least one good panning shot. With some tricks and growing routine, I was able to shoot some decent photos of the Formula 1 cars passing by. To strengthen this newfound technique, I decided to stay in this spot for the Formula 2 qualifying. All the other photos from that day were taken during the second practice session up in turn 7 and 8.

The 25th of August was a very stressful day, and I would definitely put myself under less pressure the next time. It was by far the hugest learning experience of the year and made me hungry for more. The images taken on this day are the ones I am the most proud of, as you can see the big progression of my skills from the beginning of the year to this point.