Just because the season ended doesn’t mean content has to stop right? We are on the third installment of our Photographer Spotlight acknowledgments; this time we are putting our focus on Jessica Miller!
Jessica is one of the many photographers that found their way to the Sonoma Drift paddock, and has been attracted to the sounds of high revving engines and billowing clouds or tire smoke. We had the opportunity to sit down with Jessica to find out just who she was outside of this race environment…the answers may surprise you.
1: What brand/model camera do you shoot with?
Currently I have a Canon 7d Mark II. Before Winter Jam last year I was hunting for a new camera, rented this model for one of the last Wednesday drifts. It was awesome for action/motorsport photography, plus it fit in my hand. I went and purchased it just in time for Winter Jam (it arrived on Thursday) and haven’t looked back. Although I am always on the hunt for the “perfect” lens.

2: How long have you had photography as a hobby and/or job?
I bought my first “real” camera for the America’s Cup in SF a couple of years ago. It has only evolved from there. I am now rarely without it.

3: What are your favorite types of events to shoot and why?
One of the best things about being a photographer, is you get to be outside, explore, and try to capture a single moment in a static shot. Really, any event that’s outside is fine with me. Sport-wise, I stick to surfing and drifting. But I’ve also shot some weddings, parties, food shoots, etc. None of those even comes close to the excitement of standing on the wall as a couple TBTM drivers come sliding past half an inch on the other side. Shooting surfing and drifting are somewhat similar. You can’t get so absorbed in what you are seeing through your lens that you lose focus of what is going on around you.

4: How long have you been shooting Sonoma Drift events?
My first time at Sonoma Raceway and seeing drifting in person was March of last year. It was quite the show, seeing Elijah, Crick, and Joe all drift together. I was a spectator and shooting from any vantage point I could get, mainly on the stairs of the grandstands. It wasn’t until towards the end of the season when I finally got a media pass and started standing on the wall. Well, it took until Winter Jam until I stood right next to the wall.

5: You mentioned prior to this interview that you don’t have an automotive background or know much about cars. How did you get into shooting drifting?
Before I started attending drift events, I was in awe of Kingsly Hurley’s shots he was posting on Instagram. He was super chill and introduced me to this world. And it has taken off since then. I still don’t know much about cars. I have to keep a spreadsheet with all the drivers’ car info (make, model, color, etc) because I am car blind. I am constantly learning new tips and tricks to shooting drifting and always trying to evolve my editing style.

6: Do you have a favorite event that you look forward to going to every year? Not necessarily to shoot, but just to attend?
I’ve only been to one Winter Jam, but as soon as they released the dates for this year’s Winter Jam, it was on my calendar. Outside of drift, there’s a spot in the Marin Headlands, not a long hike but it’s all steep hills. Getting there while the low fog is flowing in and around the Golden Gate Bridge but you are still warm in the August sun, that’s magic. Not really an event, though. I hope to get out and start shooting more car/drifting events next year. Besides Winter Jam the only other car event’s I’ve attended are classic/vintage car shows/races; a lot of fun and beautiful, but none of the adrenaline of a drifting event. Sort of like trying to compare a cup of earl grey tea to a red bull.

7: Do you have a favorite car you like to shoot at Sonoma?
I’m a huge fan of smoke (who isn’t?) so I’m partial to standing right on the wall at the ‘clipping point’ as Crick slides past. But honestly, I like shooting all the different cars. Seeing the drivers’ get better over the season. Seeing the different paddock courses. Every run is different no matter how amazing the driver. Sonoma Raceway is crazy beautiful, so it’s always a challenge to find a composition that shows the beauty of the location with the raw power of a car sliding past creating a smoke screen.

Jessica; like many others, is consistently sharing her work with the drivers. This is definitely noticed by us, and we are more than appreciative of her efforts. We’d like to formally thank you for all that you do for not only TBTM, but for the culture.

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