This past weekend saw Formula 1 arrive in Japan, and in a country with a rich amateur photographer culture, it is perhaps no surprise that organizers of the Japanese Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit sell special tickets for sports shooters.
The 1,000 tickets made available to amateur photographers are known locally as “cameraman seats” and were introduced a decade ago to accommodate hobbyist photographers so that they don’t interrupt the regular race fans’ experience.
“There were a lot of people with incredible cameras, but they were waving their lenses back and forth and it made it harder for other fans to see,” Tatsuya Hanami, a ticketing manager at Suzuka Circuit, tells The Japan Times.
“They’re all our guests, so in order to create a win-win situation we established a cameraman area so that everyone could enjoy themselves.”
The amateur photographer tickets sold out as soon as they were made available back in May with prices starting from $293 (¥43,500) with a maximum of $522 (¥77,500). The tickets get the shooter a bib which indicates the part of the race track they are allowed to be in.
“[The encouragement of amateur photography] is very unique to Japan,” adds Hanami. “The participants all know that whether it’s themselves or their fellow fans, they all want to take good pictures, so there’s a lot of cooperation.”
One of the amateur photographers present this past weekend, Yasuhi Shibata, tells The Japan Times that he has been shooting the Japanese Grand Prix from the amateur photographer section since tickets were first made available 10 years ago.
“[I first started] taking photos with film cameras, but I wasn’t able to shoot well. When I’d get the film developed, almost none of the photos captured the cars,” Shibata says.
“I was frustrated, so I started studying better shooting methods and buying better equipment. The machines are very cool and so are the drivers, and it makes me want to shoot a cool photo with them in it.”
Not Every F1 Race is so Accommodating to Photographers
Back in May, PetaPixel reported on an F1 fan attending the Miami Grand Prix who was refused entry with his mirrorless camera. So he returned with a floppy disk camera made in the year 2000.
For ticket information on the Suzuka Circuit photographers’ area, visit the website.