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MINI Driving Experience

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Shooting at the MINI Driving Experience

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In 2019, I was invited down to the BMW Performance Center to capture all the action, and in November of 2020, I was invited once again to South Carolina. But this wouldn’t be a shoot for Roundel badges. This time, it’s MINI!

This was a shoot unlike any other, so the post this week will be in question and answer format to try and break it down better. Part 1 now, part 2 next week!

How many days was the MINI shoot?

You mean hours? While a location like this would normally require at least 2 full days, I had just five hours to capture rollers, instructors, static shots and interior details. The short time frame was due to COVID, but we’d be outside and overall very safe.

We drove around the entire track to ensure I covered all the lighting angles.

So wait, you flew down and back, and shot, all in one day?

Days like this are where loving your job are a requirement. Up at 4AM for an hour drive to Philadelphia airport, then down to South Carolina. Arrive at 11AM, shoot for 5 hours, and then head home. No direct flights home though, so it was just about a 20 hour day.

How do you prepare for a shoot like this?

Three things gave me an advantage:

  1. I know the location very well.
  2. I’d have pro driving instructors helping me out. And I do mean pro.
  3. I’d have some logistics guys prepping MINIs I had pre-selected from their inventory.
Here’s Matt getting about as close as possible to the back of the X5.

What’s it like working with pro drivers?

In short, amazing. They can place the car on a dime, consistently for multiple takes. And they do it with a smile.

I worked with Matt (a stunt driver for movies like Ford vs Ferrari, among many others), and Laura, who just happens to race for Thunder Bunny Racing…as a hobby.

Both work as instructors at the MINI Driving Experience, and BMW Performance Driving School.

These are serious people at serious speed, so when shooting, you have to be totally prepared.

Me, telling the instructors how to drive. But really, everyone being on the same page is crucial, so time is not wasted.

Speed? How fast did you actually go?

On a public road, without safety gear or a properly trained driver, I don’t like to go above 50 mph (and that’s pushing it).

But here, I’m on a closed course, and my camera car is a BMW X5 M50i. Some of these shots were taken at 80 mph, with me shooting out the back.

We’d also have walkie-talkies to help communicate, and a clear plan as to what I was trying to capture in that particular shot.

What gear did you pack?

I did not want to pack and check my usual SKB hard shell case, and I wouldn’t need my Ice Light, so I carried just the basics. My Nikon Z7, two lenses, and a mini, lighter Manfrotto tripod. As always, a few extra batteries, an extra QXD card and a smile. That’s it.

Do you ever get too close?

You’ll see! Stay tuned for part two next week!

Special thanks to RITTA for booking me! Also thanks to the MINI Driving Experience for having me down, along with Matt, Laura and the rest of the crew!

Commissions may be received for product links on this site, so help out if you can. I only write about products I use and believe in.

I use Nikon camera bodies and lenses, a Westcott Ice Light 2, Manfrotto tripod, B + W filters and an iMac Pro to make the art you see here.

Email me at with any questions.

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