This has been a debate that will continue to rage on for all of time in drag racing. It also goes back to a previous article that I did about this sport being dangerous no matter where you stand to take photos and apparently some don't like that fact.
Let me ask you something though. When you are telling a story, do you leave the ending out? How about the middle and just tell the beginning and the end? You would never thinking of doing something so outrageous. You may even think that I am crazy for asking you such a question. Well let me explain why I did.
As a photographer, a videographer, or a storyteller in general, the objective is to tell the story as complete as possible. To me that means including the top end because that's where the story ends. The story begins in drag racing when the car pulls into the water box and ends beyond the scoreboard. So why is it that there are people out there that are only allowed to tell part of the story? The fact is that they are obstructed by fear.
We are filled everyday with the perils and pitfalls of things that may hurt us. Things like getting in a car and driving on the freeway or eating food and getting food poisoning. Now both these things could kill you, and you know what, we still drive cars and eat food. That really has nothing to do with this though, or does it? It shows you the absurdity of placing restrictions on something that should be made by the person actually doing it.
Do you think that we should put photographers and videographers in the stands so that they are away from the "dangers" of drag racing? If so, what would be the point of storytellers being at the races? Would you tell a photographer for National Geographic to take photos from the ski lodge or from their car because it might be too dangerous? Then why is it that there are those trying to put limits on our abilities as storytellers to tell the full story? The reason again is fear.
You may not think that taking top end shots is important, or you may not even feel comfortable being up there. That in itself is your choice and I respect that. For you to tell me that it's too dangerous to be up there is essentially telling me that it's too dangerous to do my job, yet it's no more dangerous than being in the car itself.
So what's the solution? You want me to sign an agreement that I won't sue if I get hurt top end? Well what happens when someone get hurts shooting at 100' out? Either way I will be more than happy to sign that to shoot top end. I am well aware of the fact that what I do to put a roof over my head is dangerous, and that's my decision.
Maybe, just maybe it's time that some out there learn the etiquette of being a photographer on the wall to begin with. Instead of worrying about what I am doing at the top end, worry about that guy sitting on the wall as the car goes past. Or the person doing the elbow lean over the wall. If you want to look at some things start there. Start with a media meeting at the beginning of an event with instructions for those on the media side.
This is not a safety issue folks, this is a fear issue. I for one am interested in telling stories at the drag strip. That means pit photos, starting line photos, top end photos, and everything in between. That is my job and I plan on continuing to do it to the best of my ability for the fans, the racers, the promoters, and everyone else.