However, as a photographer who has used film for the vast majority of his professional career, there is one aspect of the medium I preferred--the thrill of developing your own film and eagerly awaiting the results. We used to develop our own images, either in our makeshift darkroom at our small house near Silverstone, or our state-of-the-art E6 processor that filled an entire room at company headquarters.
Whereas an image can now be seen instantly, our first opportunity to see the fruits of our labor when shooting film would come after a weekend of shooting, when we would rush back from whatever country the race was held, on the first available flight, back to our office. While I don't miss those mornings after the race where we would often stay up all night processing, ready for selection and dispatch to our clients the following day, there was always a sense of trepidation to see how well shots had come out, especially if there was a `special' shot among them. With the immediacy of digital, that trepidation is all but lost now.
I remember on a few occasions the shot was so potentially impressive that I couldn't wait until we traveled home and would have it developed at the circuit in one of the special dark rooms they had back then. I remember my shot of Ralf Schumacher crashing into the barrier at the Canadian GP in 1997. I was shooting on a long exposure time when the crash happened. I knew I shot a sequence of the crash, but wasn't sure if I caught the impact. I had to have the film developed there and then. Seeing him hit the barrier in perfect clarity was immensely satisfying.
ec: How about your own top three of F1 races you've witnessed?
KS: I'll pick a race from each of the three decades I've covered F1. I have many other favorites, but if I can only choose three, I offer these:
1. Australian GP. 1986. It was the decider to end all deciders, with four drivers battling for the title--Senna, Prost, Mansell and Piquet. I love Adelaide, it's been my favorite venue and is much missed. The race is best remembered for the sensational tire blowout for Nigel, one of the most memorable images in sport. I was the only freelance photographer to capture that moment. It was a dramatic end to my first full season in F1 and crowned one of the best years of my life, living the dream of traveling the world doing something I loved and getting paid to do it.
2. British GP, 1995. I'm a good friend of Johnny Herbert. He was a guest at my wedding just weeks before the British GP and his support and strength helped me come to terms with losing good friends Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna at Imola the previous year. He was halfway though his big break season with Benetton, and when his teammate Michael Schumacher and Damon Hill knocked each other out of the race, it was clear he'd never have a better chance of winning a GP. Johnny kept his cool and won. I could hardly contain my emotion when shooting the podium. There can't have been a nicer, more genuine guy to have graced the F1 paddock who deserved a home victory as much as Johnny.
I had to wait hours after the race to grab a moment with him. He had countless interviews with the media. I wanted to take him back to the podium, take a shot of him wrapped in the Union Jack. To our delight and surprise, as we both climbed on the podium, there were thousand of fans who had stayed long after the finish to continue celebrating Johnny's win. It was a wonderful moment.
3. Japanese GP 2007. Japan is a favorite country. The fans are so enthusiastic and passionate that they make each visit something to savor. The tumultuous title battle was heading to a conclusion in the closing rounds, with animosity between McLaren and Ferrari, Hamilton and Alonso. The notorious Fuji weather played its role over the weekend. We faced the prospect of seeing the race first not take place at all, then the duration of it behind the safety car as conditions proved impossible.