The Aesthetic Pleasure of Drifting Is Hard to Beat

March 4, '21 Feature Photo: Massive drifts, shot by me.

Back in 2017, shooting cars sliding around was my bread and butter. One night at Formula Drift Irwindale, I captured this frame.

March 4, 2021 Car Bibles Feature Photo Details

  • Car(s): 2012 Nissan GT-R, modified by Jerry Yang Racing, driven by Robbie Nishida
  • Location: Irwindale Speedway
  • Photog: Chris Rosales (Twitter: @chrishasacamera) (Insta: @chrishasacamera) (Web: carbibles.com)
  • Camera: Canon 5D Mark III w/ 16-35mm f2.8L

Honestly, this might be the best drifting action shot I’ll ever snap. Nothing else in my archive has quite captured the emotion, aggression, and grace of a 1000-horsepower drift sled carving a banked oval.

When I took this I had five years of shooting under my belt, and had the access to some good equipment. This was well into my comfortable groove with professional drifting, being my second year shooting it. It’s been a few years since, and I’ve yet to find something else that has done it for me, as a shooter. There was something quite pure about it…

I never starved for a good subject, which I feel is rare in photography. Sure, we can take photos of boring shit all day, but who really cares? The good subject helps make a good photo, there is no substitute. Drifting is so special because every single subject that you get to capture on a given day always feels different. This isn’t grip racing, where the ideal line, speed, and markers are determined (for the most part), and consistency is the name of the game. Drifting encourages flamboyance, style, aggression, in every run. It’s a new subject every time.

It was always exciting action, always sounded unbelievable, and always had visuals that defied belief. Being able to capture it with my meager equipment, brushing shoulders with giants like Larry Chen (whenever he wasn’t hanging from a fence), and being amongst driving heroes, are experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Well, anything except being in the driver’s seat of one of these cars. But that’s about it.

As big as we could make it:

The Aesthetic Pleasure of Drifting Is Hard to Beat
Chris Rosales
Chris Rosales

Chris has owned 12 cars of questionable quality, is an experienced motorsports photographer, and a good all-around wrench. When he isn’t tinkering with his car in his home garage, you can catch Chris in the canyons around SoCal. He also hopelessly hankers for Euros, but he honestly knows he should get something Japanese, eventually. Contact the author here.