Motoette -in forward motion

Andrea Wilson ~Shooting for the stars

 Meeting Andrea Wilson while attending Miller Motorsports park, has been one of my greatest highlights to date in my short exposure into the motorcycle industry. I found Andrea to be surprisingly unassuming in her talents as a professional photographer and in how respected she is on the track. In the short time I spent with her at the end of the World Superbike race, it was clear she was focused on her work, but never went without being cordial to the riders as well as other staff members. She is well liked by her piers and it’s easy to see why. 

As we sat under the Yamaha tent relaxing at the end of a very exciting weekend, sipping on our beverage of choice.  I was finally awarded my interview, and like the weekend, it was captivating! 

This interview was transcribed with a mirth and admiration for a brilliant young photographer named Andrea Wilson! 

Andrea Wilson

Andrea Wilson is a talented, young, attractive, independent photographer, who bases her business out of Hunting Beach CA. Discovering an eye for the sport, Andrea primarily dedicates her career to capturing the artistry of motorcycle racing through the view of her lens, covering AMA, WSBK and MotoGP races throughout the country. 

Not only does Andrea have an anomalous eye for the track, but what’s behind the track. Shooting some of the most poignant and expressively candid shots of the racers, earining her a prominent signature mark in the industry. 

We take for granted the talented efforts of the photo journalists that risk their lives standing trackside. To consistently deliver phenomenal imagery of our favorite professional motorcycle racers, when we, as spectators safely sit in the grandstands. 

We thought it would be fun as well as fascinating, to change it up and to investigate into the person who navigates from behind the camera, instead of the subject matter that lies beyond. 

Moto Race Reports Cindi Servante seized a rare opportunity to sit down with Andrea after an exhilarating WSBK Memorial Day weekend race event at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. 

Some of Andrea's stunning work

MRR- How did you get your start into photography? 

Andrea Wilson – You know it’s funny; I wanted to be a pilot, to join the military to get my training. That’s why I went to USC, I was just about to finish when I really took an interest in motorcycle racing. I had some friends working for Yamaha and Kawasaki, which led me to a race in Fontana. 

But where I started taking photos was at air shows, it was like a job fair to me. So, when I went to Fontana I took the same approach, just having fun, taking photos in the pits as a spectator. 

Shamus, my friend at the time, who also worked for Yamaha, told me I was really good at taking photos and I should do something with it. So, it sparked a flame for me, I thought about it and went to a few more races and decided to go for it. 

The first year I was paying my own way, and the second year it got a little better. It seemed to keep building and building every year. But I have to be honest, like anything, you have to pay your dues and there were times when I wanted to quit, I just didn’t like what I was shooting. But with the support of my family and friends I stayed with it. 

What brand of camera body do you use and what are your favorite lenses while shooting the track? 

Andrea Wilson – I have two Canon Mark II N bodies. It’s hard to pick a favorite lens, but I would have to say my 300mm f2.8, is a gorgeous lens. I usually throw a 1.4x converter on it. My 70mm/200mm f2.8 and I use a smaller lens, but it’s not an L lens. I mostly rent to supplement, something I did when I first started into the business. Photography equipment is expensive, for a camera kit and some of the lenses needed to shoot this sport; you would be looking at around at least $30,000 in camera equipment, and another $2,000 for a computer. People think it’s cheap, because it’s digital and there’s no film to buy, but what they don’t know is camera bodies, lenses and computer equipment become obsolete after a few years and have to be replaced. 

Blake Young's AMA win at Road Atlanta

MRR- What is the balance in the time you spend capturing photographs to the time spent editing them? 

Andrea Wilson – When I first started in this business I was told for every hour of shooting there will be 3 hours of editing. I haven’t really measured that formula, but yeah, usually at the end of a race weekend I’ll have about 16 hours of editing to complete as soon as possible. Editing is a very un-fun, unglamorous part of the job and it’s a one person show for me. I also have to do the marketing and accounting, so shooting is a relatively small part of my job. 

MRR- The motorcycle racing season is limited, when you’re not covering motorcycle racing, what do you do to supplement the rest of the year? 

Andrea Wilson- I work with magazines for road tests. I do occasional corporate events and portraits. But most of what I do revolves around the power sports industry. I also shoot Jet Ski and personal watercraft events. When I’m not shooting I spend a lot of time at the computer doing my own personal marketing to promote my photography business. 

MRR- Photography has a reputation for being a difficult business to get into as a career.  In your estimation, what has brought you to this successful level in your career as a professional photographer? 

Andrea Wilson – It’s not easy, especially in sports, but like anything it’s the top-tier that do well and you have to start from the bottom and work your way up. Probably in this industry, it’s the strong that survive. This job is a lot of work, I’m probably carrying around 20 to 30 lbs of gear, and it can make for a very long day, especially the AMA with their 4 classes. This job is not for the faint of heart! 

Danny Eslick at Long Beach Supermoto

MRR- Your work is very unique, when shooting, what are looking for within the frame? 

Andrea Wilson- It’s hard to describe, I generally I like to get as much of the human element as possible, being that I was a fan of the sport before I got into photography. Some of my favorite photos are the personal ones, which is why I prefer covering motorcycle events over a race car event. You don’t see as much of the racer in a car as you would on a race bike. 

With motorcycle racing you see the person work. The body positioning and posturing is different from rider to rider. To me, it’s one of the most stunning sports to shoot. 

MRR- What was the most unusual shot you have taken in the span of your career? 

Andrea Wilson – Well, the most recent would have to be at Supercross event, my lights photo shot of all four of the pro circuit guys coming over the hill together is my favorite. It was just perfect timing. But, if I had to look back, it would be Danny Eslick at the Long Beach Supermoto event doing this left-handed sweeper. He pulled me aside at practice and said “hey, you gotta go over to this corner, because I’m puttin’ a knee down and sliding the bike and everyone is going nuts!” Sure enough, he was right. It-was-awesome!!; dragging the knee, squealing the tires every time he came around, it was super cool what Danny was doing! 

MRR- Do you have any advice for budding young photographers, who would like to work professionally? 

Andrea Wilson – For anyone who really wants to do this profession, I would first tell them, not to listen to other people telling them they can’t.  Just stick with it and be prepared that it’s going to take a while, like anything, it’s not going to happen over night. But it’s worth it! 

Nicky Hayden Indy MotoGP 2009

MRR- How many shots would you say you take in one racing event and how many of those would you say are top quality in your estimation? 

Andrea Wilson- I take roughly around 3000 shots per race and out of those shots, I would estimate about 100 to 150 would be top quality. Usable shots, I would guess around 400 to 500. 

Basically what I do is stock sales, but I also some assignments. I try to get as much as possible that’s useful for selling. For instance, at an average race, there might be 30 or 40 bikes on the grid; my goal is to get a mixture of different angles on different corners and some lifestyle shots. 

MRR- What would an average day at the track entail for you? 

Andrea Wilson- I usually try to get to the track an hour before the race starts and set up my computer. On Fridays I primarily shoot all track stuff, because the light is only good at certain times of the day, so there is afternoon and morning shots. Some tracks are only good for shooting in the morning light, so I might do a little more lifestyle and pit shots in that case. Saturdays I do a little of everything and start focusing on the computer aspect of my job, sorting, renaming photos to get them ready for the end of the weekend. 

MRR- One last question, I have to ask; do you ride a motorcycle? 

Andrea Wilson- Shamefully, no! I really want to learn, I spend so much time on my job, that I put it off. But, I want to make it happen, especially in the off-season. I would like to start in the dirt first and then after at least a year move to the street. A good friend of mine gave me a lesson on a Yamaha TTR125 and I loved it, but I “ate” it! Not bad, but enough that it scared me. I knew at that point I needed all my limbs! 

I’m the type of person that likes to test the water one toe at a time, but I’m definitely going to do it, because I know it’s a blast! 

Capturing Andrea at the parc ferme at Miller

Look for Andrea’s work on her Website Andrea Wilson Photography, her Facebook fan page and other well-known power sport publications throughout the country. 

Cheers Andrea! 

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July 14, 2010 - Posted by | American Motorcycle Association, Aprilia RSV4, BMW S1000RR, miller sports park, Moto Race Reports, Moto2, MotoGP, motorcycle racing, motorcycles, Road Atlanta, Salt Lake City, superbike, supersport, Superstock, Tooele

4 Comments »

  1. Andrea Wilson ~Shooting for the stars…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

    Trackback by Body Workout 101 | July 14, 2010 | Reply

  2. What a find! Great story. As a photographer who can’t shoot anything much faster than a slow walk, I’m full of admiration. I can’t believe she doesn’t ride though.

    Comment by Christina Shook | July 20, 2010 | Reply

  3. Wonderful site and theme, would really like to see a bit more content though!
    Great post all around, added your XML feed! Love this theme, too!

    Comment by the Success Ladder | July 26, 2010 | Reply

  4. Amazing post. I have bookmarked your site. I am looking forward to reading more

    Comment by the Success Ladder | August 6, 2010 | Reply


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