A Link from the Past / by Hugh Rawson


The more photographs I take, the more I am convinced that photographers learn from those greats who have gone before; standing on the shoulders of giants to capture that awesome view or decisive moment - and an occasional indecisive one too. Of course, being in the right place helps. 


Last weekend I had the truly great pleasure of being invited to spend the evening on one of the corporate boxes above the finish line at Goodwood races. Even better, this included a car to and from the racecourse; champagne to drown our losses and toast our victories [few]; our own chef; and the perfect reason to leave work about as early as was both feasible and polite as the boss on a Friday night.


Weather wise, it could hardly have been better. The Sussex downs were bathed in a golden light for several hours and stretched for as far as the eye could see and further than my 35mm lens wanted to go.


Between courses there was the opportunity to escape the air-conditioned life of the box and mingle with everyone else by the track. This is where the bookies with their fixed faces line up to relieve you of your notes and replace them with dreams while their expression switches to the next punter in line. This is where overdressed men swelter in the late sun and under-dressed women, fuelled by plastic pints of warm beer or swinging half empty bottles of Moët, stumble precariously on skyscraper heels. It's an oasis for a thirsty street photographer.


Each race brought a new flutter and a five minute amble among these gradually less stable fellow racegoers as their expressions became more jovial [or less so] as their own personal cocktail of winnings, losses and alcohol slashed back and forth.


Most of my shots were taken up close (obeying Robert Capa’s maxim that if your photos aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough) but I took picture above as it seemed to capture the evening en masse. I particularly liked it because it reminded me of Winston Link's drive in movie shot and it was this classic image that I had in mind when I took it.




We truly do learn by looking at the masters and the more we invest in looking at the great photographs the more our own work will grow, I'm convinced of this.