Leanne aims to put F1 stars in the picture this weekend

A BALLYMENA photographer will rub shoulders with the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button at this weekend’s European Formula One Grand Prix in Valencia.

Leanne Wilson will view all the action close-up through a lens after becoming the youngest photographer to gain F1 accreditation from the sport’s governing body, the FIA.

Leanne, who turns 24 today (Tuesday), is co-owner of Octnae Photographic, a photo agency specialising in motorsport, which she runs with partner Craig Boon, based in Southport.

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It’s all a far cry from her upbringing on Ballymena’s Toome Road and she attended Camphill Primary and Ballee High Schools before studying at the Northern Regional College’s Trostan Avenue campus, prior to spells at the University of Ulster, Art Colege and Limavady College.

“Growing up with two older brothers, my oldest brother, Alan, has always been interested in watching rallies and then later photographing them,” explains Leanne.

“About the age of 16, I bought my brother’s old camera kit off him as he was moving to Nikon kit rather than staying with Fuji.

“After having gone to a few events with my brother, I wanted to do something more than just watch the action, hence the start of photography with a Fuji S2 Pro camera then upgrading to full Canon Pro kit at the start of 2010.

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“I would have always considered photography to be a hobby rather than a career until setting up Octane Photography back in 2010.”

Leanne’s job has taken her to many parts of the world, covering the World Rally Championship, winter Formula One testing, North West 200 and Forumla 3 among many other ‘markings’.

“Do not let anyone tell you that this job is glamorous!” she laughs.

“I have been soaked, roasted, and frozen just to be getting the shots that I have got.

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“At F1 testing, I was shooting in thunder storm rain and blistering sun, have had to do balancing acts with camera kit to get over head shots of the F1 guys coming from their pits, about 10 meters up.

“Though there is a vast amount of glamour attached to the world of F1, life behind the camera is not quite as glamorous - taking the images is the easiest part of this job, then it’s late nights to edit images and get them off to our contacts.

Sleep over the weekend consists of about 3-5 hours a night, it all depends on how busy the day has been, while shooting on a ‘normal’ weekend is about 3000- 4000 shots.

“This job may not be the most glamorous thing for a girl to do but it is loads of fun!” added Leanne.

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