The Official Ferrari Magazine: How did you first get into photography?
Peter Fox: When I was about nine years old my sister bought me a camera and that’s where I got hooked. I was fascinated with this tiny little box, the fact that you could record something forever. And then when I was about 10, I started watching Formula One on television.
The first race I watched was Las Vegas, in 1981. I started buying a magazine called Grand Prix International and there was a photographer in there called Bernard Asset, whose work I really liked. And that’s how I got into it.
I was working in a camera shop at the weekend and a motorsport journalist called Mark Gallagher would come in and buy his film and I got talking to him, told him that I loved motorsports and photography and asked him if he knew of any jobs going. And he didn’t happen to know of one, working in a darkroom as a junior. This would have been around 1988, and I started from there, doing black-and-white print runs and stuff like that. You would basically be standing in the dark all day, smelling of chemicals, but I loved it.
TOFM: Do you remember your first grand prix?
PF: I would be sent out on assignments and in 1988 I went to the British Grand Prix. My big memory is a guy called Piercarlo Ghinzani breaking down in his Osella right where I was standing. I took some shots and that really was the moment when I thought, ‘Oh my god, this is amazing…’ I wasn’t actually working for anybody, a friend of a friend had sorted me out with a press pass, but that was the moment I knew what I wanted to do as a photographer.
My first ever published photograph was of a Formula Three driver called Derek Higgins and that was published in my local newspaper, the Windsor and Eaton… what was it? The Windsor and Eaton Express!
TOFM: When did you realise that this was something you could do as a career?
PF: It would have been 1990, working for Leyton House Racing, Andrew Gilbert Scott, a Jerez Formula 3000 test. I wasn’t 21 so I couldn’t hire a car, so I got a lift with Andrew Gilbert-Scott and Ross Hockenhull, the two drivers I was actually working for. And I was quite a good communicator, as you need to be if you’re a photographer, you learn to charm people very quickly.
I kind of got to know everyone before the job had even started. It was quite a responsibility to do all the team photos and all the testing shots. And that gave me the confidence that I needed to branch out, to cover different formulas in racing. Formula 3000 was really where I learnt my trade.
TOFM: When did you first become aware of Ferrari, and what did it mean to you as your photography career developed?
PF: For me it was always Gilles Villeneuve. He was just amazing. And then the thing with Ferraris is that they always look great. That flash of red, it really can be a fantastic sight. But Ferrari to me always means Monza. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about that place. It’s always the best race of the year. Really, there’s no other race like it in the world. All weekend, it’s just Ferrari, Ferrari, Ferrari. Nothing else matters.
Monza’s a unique place and Ferrari is a unique team. When you’re doing a wide-angle shot of the drivers on the podium, with all the crowd gathered below them, the Italian national anthem’s blaring out, it really is a powerful moment. And that’s what Ferrari is all about.