No, you didn’t read the title wrong. Nadia Jordaan is a motorsport photographer and a wedding photographer. I had the privilege to ask her a few of my burning questions to find out how and why she combines these two significantly diverse fields.
Everyone has to start somewhere. Where did your photography journey start?
It all started with a deeper appreciation for beauty and the little things in life. Being a creative spirit, I had to find the best way to let it out. With photography, I am able to capture a beautiful moment in time, and to me, that’s priceless.
Which came first: photographing weddings or motorsport?
Motorsport came first. I guess I was just at the right place at the right time, and things started happening, and I fell in love with photographing motorsports. But, as time went by, I started realizing that there are so many diverse types of photography. What I love about photographing weddings are all the raw moments. The raw emotions, beauty, and the love people have for each other.
How do the two compare? What are the challenges that come with each?
They are worlds apart, yet they are very similar. With both, you only get one opportunity to get the shot. With weddings, once that specific emotion is gone, you’ll never get it back, and the same with Motorsport; if the car is past you, you won’t be able to get it back.
Motorsport has far greater unpredictability. When shooting a wedding you have a little more control; you can tell people where to stand and what to do, but with motorsport, you have no control over your subject whatsoever. The big challenge I experience with weddings is the wide variety of personalities you have to deal with, and the levels of comfort in front of the camera. If you can make everyone feel comfortable, then you can get the most out of them for the photos.
The biggest challenge with Motorsport is probably the elements. Being outside, in the veld, alone sometimes, and the far distances you have to walk to remote areas to get a good photo.
Which camera do you use, and what is your favorite lens?
I prefer using a Canon. It’s just a personal preference, I guess. I started off with it, and I just stuck with it. I think it’s more user-friendly. My favorite lens for Motorsport is a nice wide-angle lens. I use the 18-135mm standard lens, which is a standard lens. It allows you to get a bit closer to your subject. The 70-200mm (f/2.8) lens is very versatile, so I use it for weddings as well. The Sigma Art Series, 50mm (f/1.4), is a really nice lens. I tend to use it for the closeup photos in the pit area where the cars are parked and people are working. You can capture a nice story with it. My favorite lens for weddings is the 24-70mm.
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Do you prefer working alone or with someone when shooting?
For motorsports, I tend to work alone, but it depends. I normally set up a tripod with a remote trigger to get a different angle on the route where the cars are. For weddings, I work with assistants depending on the size of the wedding. Sometimes I use a second photographer as well. Weddings are a bit bigger, and there are more angles to cover.
Do you prefer photos or video?
I definitely prefer photos. I do not shoot video.
What are your favorite two photos ever taken? By yourself or another photographer.
This is a really difficult question to answer. But these two images really stand out. In the first one, Shameer Viriawa was coming around a corner at a tremendous speed and I got totally covered with sand, but the shot was magnificent.
What would your number one tip to young aspiring photographers be?
My one tip would definitely be to believe in yourself. Never ever doubt your abilities, no matter what anyone says. Own who you are, and rise above whatever people say. Be open to criticism, but most of all, believe in yourself.
What is the most important thing you learned from someone who has had an influence on your photography career?
The person that has influenced my career most is Marian Chytka, from the Czech Republic. He also photographs motorsport and sport. The most important thing that I’ve learned from him is how to use composition to tell a story with your photo. That is really important. I have had the opportunity to work with him, which was an absolute dream come true.
What are three essential items that you always have handy when shooting, be it motorsport or wedding photos?
Comfortable shoes! It’s really important to be able to move around, and if your shoes are not comfortable, your job will be very difficult. Secondly, spare batteries and memory cards. It would be quite embarrassing if you run out of battery in the middle of a wedding shoot. The last essential is my Black Rapid double breasted strap. It just makes it so much easier to move around, and switch between cameras.
Nadia has been a photographer for 4 years and looks forward to many more years and amazing shots to come. Be it with a mouthful of dirt or capturing the most pristine white wedding dress. She has already proven that the possibilities are endless.