Suffering a mid-life crisis may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was just the tonic for motor rally photographer Jason Byrne.
You may not know his face but you may know a lot of his work, especially if you’re into motorsport. Jason’s action-packed photos of rally events around the country are widely used and sort after.
His skill behind the camera was almost stumbled upon.
“I came here to New Zealand in 2003, bought a camera because I was on holiday and just started taking photos and fell in love with landscape photography. That’s how I got into it. Then I had a mid-life crisis and bought a rally car.”
His mid-life crisis actually came in 2006 when Jason was diagnosed with cancer.
“I became seriously ill and had to undergo chemo and radiotherapy. I’m very pleased to say that thanks to the loving support from my family and the fantastic health care I received I’m now in remission and still doing well.”
Jason decided to buy his dream car, a Ford Escort Mk2, which he eventually raced.
“I went to an event and my car broke, but I had my camera in the car so I started taking pictures of people in their cars and a few people went, ‘Hey that’s cool’. And it kind of started growing from there.”
The Tauranga local says it was too expensive to compete in rally so decided to follow the sport through the lens of a camera. Since then he has created the website A Little Bit Sideways, which follows different rally events nationally and internationally.
“I became passionate about rally and thought, ‘Well, I can’t afford to enter all these events’, and my car was still broken, so why don’t I go and promote them and cover them?’ and that’s where A Little Bit Sideways was born.
“I don’t do it for anyone else, I do it for me, and all my little articles I write up are done because I want to say it… It literally is just a passion. I try to stay out of the politics of [the sport] and support New Zealand, because I want to be seen as an independent.”
The 44-year-old uses all Nikon gear and has come a long way from the first camera given to him as a youngster.
“I’m currently shooting a Nikon system. My first camera was a Nikon. My dad actually gave me a Nikon D100, which I still have, but it’s definitely not up to what we use now. Now I’ve gone to the more professional bodies with the weather proofing and dust proofing.”
Jason posts his articles and images on his website which has been up and running since 2012.
“It is still very much a work in progress. We hope to be spreading the concept at future events.”