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Richard Kelley

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Fine Art print
Baryta Hahnemühle 315g
Alu mounted print
Hanging bars
Gap Frame
Black wood
Acrylic print
Aluminium brace

75,00 €

LocationWatkins Glen, New York (USA)
Prints issueLIMITED EDITION 50 prints ONLY
Shooting date1er octobre 1978
Original pictureNegative
Richard Kelley
Richard Kelley

I have been a photojournalist, writer, communicator and historian for most of my life.

I gravitated to the work of W. Eugene Smith, and the Magnum photographers; Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Joseph Koudelka. Their common approach became my mantra: make images that tell a story; remove yourself; disappear; leave out the vanity; and, make emotional and elegantly composed images that point to a truth about your subject.

I began my Formula One documentary in 1972, just nine months after I first began to make images.

Although underage, I was able to get full accreditation for the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. I was immediately swept up in the tangible drama of the pit lane and its compelling images. From 1972 through 1984, I captured the intimate moments of drivers who fought to survive in a Formula One era that was rapidly undergoing the most comprehensive changes to drivers, cars and technology in Grand Prix history.

Early on, it was clear that these technological developments were influencing the spirit, passion and bravery that I was recording of that time, and so I decided to adopt the style of Cartier-Bresson and become “a fly on the wall”; getting as close as I could to the telling moments without influencing the emotion or the drama of the moment. 

I consciously backed away and didn’t go looking for moments; I just waited to let those moments compel me to make an image. And, as luck would have it, I witnessed and recorded hidden moments that became pivotal incidents in Grand Prix history.

After positions at the Chicago Tribune and Observer Newspapers in Detroit, I began a 20-year association with Car and Driver Magazine, traveling the world to provide art for over 600 feature stories and numerous covers.

As always, I pursued personal photographic projects, capturing the human condition outside of my newspaper and magazine work.

I also expanded my photography by providing creative content for media and marketing materials for many of the largest multinational automotive manufacturers in the United States. Clients included: Audi, Mazda, BMW, Volkswagen, Porsche, Ford, General Motors, Kia, Subaru, and Jaguar.

I transitioned my photography to include writing and editing in 1998.

In 2001, I joined Mitsubishi as Senior Manager of Media Relations, helped launch the Lancer Evolution 8. I became Manager of North American Motorsports in 2003, winning the SCCA Pro Rally Championship Manufacturers’ National Open Class title with the new Evo. From there, I went on to provide public relations management for another multi-national Japanese auto company for a further eight years…

Throughout these decades, I could never forget the intimate Grand Prix images I had captured and the experiences of being a “fly on the wall” in the world of Formula One.

So, I am reclaiming my soul with this collection of never-before published Grand Prix documentary photography. I believe they offer unique impressions of amazing driver’s and athletes, and moments that changed their lives forever.

The initial presentation of my images took place in the fall of 2013 in Hong Kong, courtesy of an exhibition hosted by Blackbird Automotive and in conjunction with McLaren’s 50th Anniversary. My collection and memoirs will become the basis for a forthcoming book in the near future.

I have also returned to creating new digital work, in both monochrome and color, on fresh editorial assignments and personal sports projects that will again allow me to record human drama, struggle and grace, with all its emotion, patina, and nuance, such as Macau’s growing influence on Formula One.

And as before, I’m enjoying a creative adventure lived as "a fly on the wall." 

Thank you for joining me on this continuing journey.

In 1973, Niki Lauda seemed just another young journeyman driver. He had used limited cash and bank loans to secure competitive rides, with little success. Down to nearly his last dollar, Enzo Ferrari watched him force his uncompetitive BRM to the front and believed he had potential. With that, everything changed. From the moment he joined the Scuderia in 1974, he became a bonafide World Championship contender.
Systematic and unrelenting, he immediately began to wring speed and consistency from a car and team where there had been nothing, but confusion and finger-pointing. He captured his first World Championship the next season, and dominated the 1976 season while battling for his second title until his horrific crash at the Nurburgring brought him literally within a few seconds of burning to death. He received last rites, but rose from his expected deathbed to race 43 days later at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. He would be carried to his car, his bleeding wounds covered in bandages, to finish fourth. It was the most heroic return in sports history. While he would ultimately lose his title by one point to his friend, James Hunt in ’76, he would retrieve his crown in 1977. Lauda would walk away disillusioned in 1980, return in 1982 and win his last championship in 1984.

Here in 1978, Lauda’s still painful scars are clearly seen through his helmet eyeport. Lauda put his undeniable stamp on these years with a life more improbable than fiction and more inspiring than possible. His bravery simply transcended sports to become a metaphor for tenacity. Just as he could reach down inside a racing car to find those hidden seconds, he reached down inside his soul and summoned the strength of will to not just survive, but to return and fight. Who else on that grid would have had as much unwavering dedication to stay the course? Sterner stuff is rarely seen in life, rarer still in sports; Niki Lauda’s life defines the word “tenacity”.

I made this image with a Nikon F2, and a Nikon 180mm f/2.8 ED-IF lens, using Kodak Tri-X film rated at 400 ASA, 1/250 second at f/2.8, the afternoon of October 1, 1978, at the Grand Prix Circuit at Watkins Glen, NY, USA.

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Tenacity - Richard Kelley

Tenacity - Richard Kelley

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