As we approach this years Le Mans 24 we often get asked by people where the best places are to photograph from, what equipment should I bring and what should I expect. Well here is our Le Mans 24 photo guide.
Here is a great, interactive map which shows some photo spots and other things of interest around the track.
As a fan there are several place where you will be able to get shots of the cars on track, but - and a big but here! If you are looking for a start photograph you will need to plan well ahead as there will be 1000's of other people look for that perfect shot of the start. In this vein, if you are lucky enough to be able to buy grandstand seats and you are looking for a great photo spot then consider the Goodyear and Panorama grandstands as an alternative to the main straight grandstands as they offer a great view of the cars from the Dunlop curve and through the Dunlop Chicane - a scene of many first lap and restart incidents.
This area is also a favourite spot for sunrise as the cars go under the Dunlop bridge and head down La Chappelle and into the Esses. Continuing along the outside of the track heading towards Tetre Rouge this is another great spot for photography, especially perfecting those panning shots.
There are very few places where it is possible to cross the track at Le Mans, one is between the Esses and Tetre Rouge, take advantage of this on your way back and cross over to to the grassy hill on the inside of the track to get some great shots of the cars coming down the hill form Dunlop.
In 2023 there may be changes to the access routes due to developments at the track and the Centenary celebrations (Concert setup on the infield) so how you get to the next part is up to you!
As you cross over the Dunlop bridge from the outside of the circuit (no photography allowed here) head towards La Chapelle, this is the ACO members area and has been re-developed for 2023 - if you are a member head on in and make use of the less busy toilets and food vendors!
On the inside of the track now there are few locations worth fighting to get to, so why not stroll around the outside of the paddock, spot some drivers maybe and take a look at the merchandise on sale. Walk along the back of the main grandstands and cross back under the track heading towards the Ford Chicane. For years this has been a great spot to get shots of the cars heading away from you down the main straight, be patient and get a spot at the fence - its worth it although you may find a bunch of track photographers there also!
One last thing to try, around the main grandstand area would be a trip on the Ferris wheel this is usually located near the Porsche Centre, but for 2023 is located near Dunlop - you can't miss it and its definitely worth the wait.
While the track is run, for the majority on public roads this does not mean you can get close to the live track. All the routes leading to the track are controlled by the Gendarmerie so don't mess with them! There are some great places out on the track to shoot from however and are serviced by the free shuttle bus service that runs during the race, I would choose this option over driving.
On the outside of the track, Mulsane corner offers a good place to photograph the cars as they come off the straight under heavy braking, there are reasonably low fences here and you may be able to walk close to the track, getting shots through the trees.
The next spot is the Indianapolis / Arnage corners, there is a car park here and also the shuttle bus stops here. The ACO have developed this area over the past few years and there are lots of angles to explore, make this a place to go at night as you can catch the glowing brakes of the GT's coming into Arnage.
In terms of what gear to take, as you will be on your feet for a long time make sure you have a good, comfortable bag to put everything in and make sure you pack water! It may sound obvious but pack spare memory cards as you will be surprised how many shots you will take and on more than 1 occasion I have sold memory cards to members of the public! Take batteries enough for the time you plan on being away from mains power too!
In terms of lenses, something in the 70 - 200mm (full frame) range will suit most locations and if I were going as an un-accredited photographer I would just take this one lens. A note on flashes (not flashers) most areas where you can get to will be lit and generally you won't need a flash - if you do feel the need to flash, make sure its not straight at the front of the cars.
We have put together a fans guide to Le Mans, you will find all sorts of great information here - also listen to our Le Mans special podcast for great hints and tips.