Nicolas Hamilton on Lewis Hamilton

Written by Staff Writer

Photographer Nicolas Hamilton grew up around his Formula One racing brothers: Mike and Robert. These days, he finds his muse in motor racing, but is just as likely to shoot a sailing boat or a vintage airplane.

How would you describe your style?

I like to keep it relatively simple. If I do have a stylistic connection, it’s either because I think of something, or if I’ve always admired something, I like to keep it true to the spirit of that object.

Image: Nicolas Hamilton

Why photography in motorsport?

Ever since I was eight years old, and learned to drive a carburetor and an engine, I was obsessed with it. I spent hours at race tracks trying to learn how to race.

It was also a challenge. In a way, it was another form of racing — but on steroids! The idea that you might lose your life is a constant with motorsport. As an amateur racer, you are starting in the shadow of someone like a Niki Lauda or Michael Schumacher, at the height of their careers, and if you crash or break something it can be fatal. That idea stayed with me for a long time, and then finally gave way to passion, obsession, of using motor racing as a tool to document the story of how this world works.

What is your interest in motorsport?

I feel it’s a very under-appreciated part of the world and should not be under-appreciated. People say motorsport is a normal sport, but it isn’t. There are many, many rules, regulations, bodies, and ways of playing to win that are completely ridiculous, but they exist for a reason. A lot of really great people with very deep knowledge apply their expertise to make these problems happen so that we can enjoy these beautiful experiences for the world.

Image: Nicolas Hamilton

What role has Lewis played in your life?

Well, he inspired me to start my own company, NicStudio, a few years ago. It would be a long time until you find someone who inspires you the way he inspires others, but he has really been the soul behind all things I’ve done for years. He’s been my main support.

Who is your favorite driver?

There are three drivers that are hard to pick a favorite — Lewis, Sebastian Vettel, or the late Dan Wheldon. Lewis is the one who happens to be in the hunt for titles this year, Sebastian is a little bit more of a balanced, more all-around, versatile driver, and Dan was just crazy, crazy, crazy!

Image: Nicolas Hamilton

Are there any subjects you are drawn to?

You need someone on the same wavelength as you in order to carry out this kind of work. There is always this feeling, there’s always a discovery process. So what has made me happy since I started to do this job was that I found people who were on that same journey.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered?

Photojournalism has its unique challenges, whether in a narrative where the film runs a thousand frames or in areas that are not only expensive, but also protected. I try to keep my work as closely connected to the story as possible. I like to hold conversations with the subject so that I understand what is going on, where we’re going, and where we’ve come from.

I think that is how I enjoy the best of my work.

Is there a particular driver you look to for inspiration?

I like the response I’ve had to this question and I find it very important, that I don’t answer it.

I do admire some of the best, but I don’t feel that I am one of them. I don’t believe it is the greatest thing that I can do in my life, but there are a lot of great drivers that I admire.

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