The Best Photos of 2016: Chris Owens

Published On December 28, 2016 » 4725 Views» By admin » Blogs, IMS, Indy 500, Photography, Red Bull Air Race

We’re looking back on 2016 through the lenses of IMS photographers. Today, Chris Owens shares his favorites.

MORE BEST OF 2016: Shawn Gritzmacher | Chris Jones


Why is this guy obsessed? Why is he dedicating a vehicle to it and waiting to be first in line? It’s people like Larry Bisceglia that have made the Indianapolis 500 the all-time legend and iconic event that it is. The picture itself is very standard, but it’s just one that makes me happy. Larry has come and gone, but he was first in line for the 100th. It makes me smile.

I don’t know that I could have made up a better story. Obviously, James Hinchcliffe had his incident here and then came back to be on the pole and let the track know: “I’m the fastest guy out here.”

His parents are facing me instead of him, and that’s not ideal, but after I thought about it more, you can’t see him anyway – he has his helmet on. I don’t have kids, so I can’t imagine what it’s like to have your son almost die, then come back on top. It had to be a relief, and an emotional moment for all of them.

This was a pretty neat project for me. We did an Indianapolis 500 media day in New York City, since a lot of big-time sports media are in New York City, and we thought we’d also create our own media event where they could come to us and make a nice visual. Such an iconic city in America, combined with what’s so iconic to us in the state of Indiana. I had some photos with drivers that I liked, but I picked this one. Drivers come and go, but the Borg-Warner stays the same.

All of our access for photography at the Red Bull Air Race was over with the fans, but I really thought it would be good to show all the fans because we had a good turnout. Who cares about a photo with blue sky? I wanted to show the speed that they’re moving and how many people came. So I went to the roof of the Panasonic Pagoda, that puts you on eye level with the plane. It’s neat to be pretty even with one.

The more I look at this, the more I like it. It’s wicked. I take so many pictures that I don’t always get so excited about them, but this is one that I say, “man, I took that.”

As a place to hang out, the Snake pit wouldn’t necessarily be my first choice, but I am a really big fan of music. Music is art, and just to see someone so engaged in what an artist is doing, just really speaks to me on that level. The whole photo just has this vibe to it. It’s hard to see her through the hands, but all these people having the same reaction at the same time is unique. And for some reason, she’s holding up three fingers. No one else is. I don’t know what that’s about, but it’s cool.

This just showed how packed the place was on Race Day. That’s a spectator mound, and it’s just jammed. This was just a really special occasion – the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 – and it’s got everything the 500’s about: people and our iconic structure.

When I first got these shots and went into the media center, my initial reaction was, “you’ve got to kidding me, that’s what I have?” I wanted a really good photo with a fist pump or a tear or something to show how excited he was, and it just didn’t happen. He’s confused, giving the look of “what are we doing here and what do you want me to do?” Quickly it came to me, this is the story. This is it. He’s new to this, he’s the rookie. He knew he had a chance, but he was shocked. He was amazed that he won, and it shows on his face.

I had kind of been warned a few days before that Lady Gaga had interest in being here. I thought, “whoa, that’s really cool.” When they did confirm that she’d be there, it was my responsibility to get some imagery of it. We’ve got a thousand pictures, but I just like the interaction in this one. You can see her balaclava in her hands, this is the last interaction before she put on her headsock and helmet and took hot laps. She was really great with everyone. She had a lot of questions about the racing, what was going on.

We had been anticipating the 500 for so long, and this 100-days-out party was kind of the moment when it started to sink in for me. Not often does someone hold an event at midnight on a weeknight in February, but everyone was so genuinely excited to be there. There was no one that wasn’t having a good time.


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