Brian Caswell,Speedshot Photography

Brian Caswell – Speedshot Photography

Self-Taught Photographer Gains Reputation – And a Racing Family of Friends Along the Way

By Kim Kisner, Contributing Writer

Eighteen years ago, Brian Caswell bought a camera and started shooting planes and trains just for something to do.

Today, this self-taught hobbyist is arguably the best motorsports photographer in the country.

How did he get here?

Michigan Snowmobiler and ORV had the unique opportunity to sit down with him and hear his story.

Brian Caswell,Speedshot Photography

How and why did you become a photographer?

Brian: Back in 2005 I bought a camera and a lens. At the time I was into trains and planes and just started shooting them. I went to Chicago frequently to do so. I was always a motorsports enthusiast and big into NASCAR, so eventually I borrowed a better camera and took it to a few NASCAR races and took pictures. I really enjoyed that.

Then, for something to do in the winter, I started going to local BEVRA vintage races in Lakeview Michigan not far from where I lived and taking pictures. I shared them on social media and people started to get interested.

In 2008 BEVRA brought me on as their official photographer and I did that for about seven years. I learned so much and met so many great people. So, in 2015 I decided I wanted to expand. I had a full-time job but wanted to make a little more money in photography and make a name for myself.

So, I shot a MIRA event in Mt. Pleasant and that was a huge stepping-stone. My photography started to take off. I’ve been the official photographer for MIRA since 2017.

In 2016 I contacted the World Championship Derby Complex in Eagle River, Wisconsin to see if I could get a media pass and shoot. They asked me to send some of my work, so I did, and they gave me a pass. I went and shot it and have been the official photographer ever since.

In 2017 I was invited to the I-500 to shoot and have been their official photographer since.

Brian Caswell,Speedshot Photography

That is a lot! What do you do in the summer?

Brian: Over the years, I have felt that I needed to keep shooting during the summer to keep myself sharp. So I became the official photographer of the West Michigan Offshore Powerboat Club and I shoot their Poker Runs. I’m basically in a helicopter chasing boats and shooting and it’s a huge adrenaline rush.

Does your business consist of anyone besides you to do the work?

Brian: In 2016 I met Ben Evensen in Wisconsin and he became my partner. He helps me cover the Derby race and he shoots other Wisconsin events on his own for Speed Shot Photography.

What drives your passion?

Brian: MY dad was a racing fan and into snowmobiles. He used to race on the Michigan circuit and my grandfather owned a snowmobile business in Rockford, so I grew up around it.

My dad still comes to events and watches. I like being part of pushing the sport along and also making memories for people with my photos. When I’m long gone people can look back at the photos and I will always be a part of that history.

Brian Caswell,Speedshot Photography

Last year’s I-500 had the closest finish in the 52 years the race has been in existence. Tell me about that.

Brian: I was one of the only photographers who captured the finish. It’s a wedge shot from the front corner of the track. I have not seen any other photo like it. The finish was so close you can’t tell from the photo who won. It was fantastic.

What is the most iconic photo you’ve taken?

Brian: It’s a photo that went viral. We call it the train shot. It was at Eagle River and five or six sleds were coming around turn four in perfect alignment and I happened to catch it. I was standing outside the track and was taking a small break and they started coming. I whipped around with the camera ready and hit the shutter and didn’t even know if it was in focus. I lucked out. It’s one of the most iconic shots and I’ve sold a lot of it. 

What is your favorite photo from oval track racing?

Brian: I took a photo at a BEVRA race around 2012 ish. The driver was a drag racer, not an oval racer and he came out and decided to run a Polaris Vintage sled 440. It was a lot to handle. He came around turn four and it got away from him. He and the sled flipped through the air. Luckily, he was not hurt. I got the shot and it’s a really crisp image of the sled in the air. That was a crazy moment in Oval Racing history in Michigan.

Brian Caswell,Speedshot Photography

What do you love about oval racing?

Brian: I think growing up watching NASCAR plays into my love of it. The riders chase each other around corners and the close action is great. And nobody has a better view than the photographer in the corner. They fly by within a few feet of me going 100 miles an hour and there’s nothing like it.

What’s the best event you’ve covered?

Brian: The I-500 is one of the most exciting races by far. It’s seven to ten hours of racing. Conversely, the World Championship at Eagle River is just 25 laps and watching the guys on the sleds trying to hang onto the steering going over 100 MPH in a sprint race with everyone itching to win – there’s nothing like it.

Do you race?

Brian: Funny you should ask. In 2009 I built a vintage sled and raced for two seasons. I think I have a little too much fear in me. But I built the sled and I tried! I took my cameras to the track and if I got eliminated, I would go take pictures.

Brian Caswell,Speedshot Photography

What are the biggest challenges?

Brian: The equipment and the cold. It does ok but takes a lot of wear and tear and there is a lot of cost in replacing it.

There is also the wear and tear on my body. Some weekends I’m out there from 8 am until midnight and it can be 20 degrees below 0.

Also, we need to process the images as quickly as possible. People want them fast so they can share on social media etc. So a lot of times I’m up most of the night processing images after a race. We’ve come up with a process to get upwards of 2000 photos posted per day.

Brian Caswell,Speedshot Photography

Where did the name of your business come from? Speed Shot Photography?

Brian: One of the shots I do lot is a pan shot where everything is blurred but the sled. People started calling it the “speed shot” and that stuck.

What’s your end game?

Brian: Well I’m 52 years old so I’m not sure how long I’ll last doing this, but I’ve always said as long as I can walk the distances and stand the cold with no major issues I’ll keep going.

If I was young again I would probably do this full-time. 

Racing is a great community to be a part of. We all look out for each other and I’ve gained so many friends.

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