A photographer’s view of Formula E

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Berlin ePrix Shiv Gohil / Spacesuit Media

Most sport photographers spend years making their way up to covering top-flight competition, be it from non-league football to the giddy heights of the Premier League or amateur tennis to Wimbledon. But photographer Shiv Gohil cut that journey short, making the switch from weddings to motorsport in one bound.

Ahead of the Formula E doubleheader season finale in New York, on 13 and 14 July, we look at Gohil’s work.

Gohil has spent the past five years covering the fast growing Formula E competition, from the first test events in 2014 to the closing stages of this year’s championship.

Working behind the lens runs in the family, as he follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, who ran a photo studio in a small town in Kenya.

But it was not something he had considered as a career until, in 2005, he picked up a camera properly – when his father started to photograph weddings.

Formula E driver Shiv Gohil / Spacesuit Media
At testing in 2014

Gohil had studied graphic design at university but found the lack of control over the final work frustrating.

And as the wedding photography took off, he committed himself to that.

“When someone says, ‘I want you to photograph this for me,’ you know they are going to be 100% committed to your vision,” he says.

Miami ePrix Shiv Gohil / Spacesuit Media
Gohil’s photographic style can be seen in this shot at the Miami ePrix during the first season of Formula E

But his love of motorsport drove him to also photograph races at tracks such as Brands Hatch as well as a few Formula 1 events, shooting from the public areas.

“I started going to Silverstone to practice sessions, when track is emptier, on Friday,” he says .

“I was shooting from the grandstands, understanding the angles and how to capture the cars and the light on the bodywork.”

He would send his pictures to F1 bloggers and smaller outlets who liked his work – and they managed to get him a photographer’s pass for F1 testing at Barcelona in 2013.

With the impending launch of Formula E, in 2014, the timing could not have been better.

Pit lane Shiv Gohil / Spacesuit Media
In the pit lane during the first testing session at Donington Park, 2014

Gohil took the people skills he had learned pleasing the bride and groom and transferred them to the racetrack, engaging with the drivers and building close relationships with many.

“There is a skill transfer,” he says.

“As with a wedding, you get the one chance to get the shot, there is lots of pressure – and if you don’t deliver the picture, you have an unhappy client.

Alain Prost watching his son Shiv Gohil / Spacesuit Media
Three-time Formula 1 champion Alain Prost watches son Nico preparing during preseason testing at Donington Park in 2014

“The first time I saw an electric car driving on a track was at the Donington test. It was surreal.

“Not many knew about it – and when I told friends, they had no real idea what Formula E was.

“As a photographer in a busy pit lane in petrol-based motorsport, you can hear the car coming from far away, so from a safety point of view the lack of noise in Formula E caught people by surprise.

“When I started out on Formula E it was all new – but now, after five years, you have team rivalries and history at each track you return to.”

Here is a selection of Gohil’s pictures from the first five seasons of Formula E.

Mitch Evans, Panasonic Jaguar Racing, Mexico 2019 Shiv Gohil / Spacesuit Media
Gohil photographed this Jaguar racing car in Mexico, shooting blind as he had to hold the camera over a high fence and pan as the car passed. “I got a few shots with the helmet in perfect focus,” he says. “With the looks of this car, it’s one of my favourites.”
Lucas di Grassi celebrates victory by jumping into Lake Zurich Shiv Gohil / Spacesuit Media
Lucas di Grassi celebrates victory by jumping into Lake Zurich
Victory for Jaguar Racing driver Mitch Evans at the 2019 Rome E-Prix Shiv Gohil / Spacesuit Media
Victory for Jaguar Racing driver Mitch Evans at the 2019 Rome E-Prix. “Finally – a first Formula E win for this famous British brand and one of the nicest guys in the paddock,” says Shiv. “This one had been a long, long time coming. There are no easy rides in Formula E – you have to earn every point and every place. I was pleased to capture this podium shot at the 2019 Rome E-Prix, which I think looks suitably epic for such a momentous day for the sport and for the team.”
Sebastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi crash Shiv Gohil / Spacesuit Media
Sebastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi crash on the first lap of the 2016 London ePrix. This race would decide which of the two drivers would be crowned season-two champion. “You could feel the electricity in the air – everybody knew that something was going to happen in this race,” says Gohil. “So, I positioned myself where I thought contact could happen – and it did. What a crazy, crazy race.”
Nelson Piquet Jr Shiv Gohil / Spacesuit Media
Nelson Piquet Jr poses for pictures away from the track, having won the first season of Formula E
Nico Rosberg Shiv Gohil / Spacesuit Media
Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg is an investor in Formula E
Antonio Felix da Costa driving for Team BMW Shiv Gohil / Spacesuit Media
During a wet testing session at Valencia, in 2018, Gohil positioned a flashgun across the track from him, which fired as the car passed, illuminating the raindrops and adding atmosphere to the picture
Daniel Abt Shiv Gohil / Spacesuit Media
“Daniel Abt, who races for the Audi Formula E team, has been in the sport since the very beginning – just like me,” says Shiv. “I’ve got to know him and the team really well over that time. I had this crazy idea to use smoke bombs and coloured flashes for a shoot. This was not done in a studio – I had ten minutes at the back of the garages at the 2019 Berlin E-Prix to create this. I’m really happy with how it turned out – and so was Daniel.”
British racer Sam Bird celebrates his first Formula E victory in Putrajaya, Malaysia in 2014 Shiv Gohil / Spacesuit Media
British racer Sam Bird celebrates his first Formula E victory, in Putrajaya, Malaysia, in 2014

All photographs courtesy Shiv Gohil/Spacesuit Media

A photographer’s view of Formula E

Most sport photographers spend years making their way up to covering top-flight competition, be it from non-league football to the giddy heights of the Premier League or amateur tennis to Wimbledon. But photographer Shiv Gohil cut that journey short, making the switch from weddings to motorsport in one bound.

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