Today we’d like to introduce you to Tracie Villalpando.
Hi Tracie, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I’ve been interested in photography since I was 14 years old. I used to buy disposable cameras and snap away at anything that looked great in the viewfinder. I didn’t take it too seriously until my 20’s when I decided to buy my first Canon DSLR. I’ve learned everything I know by reading articles, watching tutorials, and just clicking away at everything. Growing up with 7 uncles who drag raced surely had some influence on my love for motorsports. For the last eight years, I’ve been following my passion for automotive and motorsports photography. When it was announced that Austin would be home to the only Formula 1 track in the US, I saw it as a chance to build up my portfolio in hopes of one day getting a media assignment. I’ve since gained accreditation to events at the track, but I am always at events regardless of status.
We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Women’s representation in motorsports is still an uphill battle in all aspects. Who is the last female racer, engineer, or team owner that you can remember, much less a photographer? I can only hope that my photos spark enough interest that a team or organization will reach out and hire me. In the few events that I have been listed as official media, I was one of maybe five women, and we were outnumbered by 15+ male photographers. I had some major opportunities lined up for 2020, but like everyone else, the Coronavirus pandemic put everything on pause. So instead of being trackside, I spent the year rebranding myself. I officially set up my media business, Apex ATX Media LLC, and redesigned my website. Motorsports photography is not my day job. I am a working mom that has to juggle my work schedule, my autistic son’s therapy and school schedule, and any motorsport event schedules that I want to shoot. I’ve had to miss some major events or cut back my time at the track in order to make it all work. Scheduling has been a big challenge because I’ll usually miss out on early morning or late afternoon sessions when the lighting is ideal. I have yet to be featured by motorsports media outlets, but I continue shooting in the hopes that one day I will.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Currently, I’m known for my motorsports photography. Being an automotive enthusiast before a photographer, I know the kinds of iconic cars that people love. When I am able to photograph these iconic race cars on the track, I’ve noticed that my website and Instagram views rise. I think that I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve been able to navigate this media photography world nearly 100% on my own.
Risk-taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
In my opinion, risk-taking is required in order to improve. I was a photographer for Indycar’s spring testing at Circuit of the Americas earlier this year, and I had never covered an event that big. I was super nervous because, although I believe in myself, the other photographers had been shooting for Indycar for nearly every event in the prior season. I teamed up with a social media-based company and gave it my best shot. The photos did not turn out as great as I had hoped, but I learned a lot about what to expect the next time I get a gig. It gave me a lot of insight on how to set up my gear, where to be for specific shots, how to interact with drivers and teams, and was a very valuable experience.