Insight | Dakar Rally photography: the race against time


Dakar Rally photography: the race against time


Dust hangs in the air as the Dakar Rally drivers race to the finish. Trailing close to them at all times are Marcelo Maragni and Flavien Duhamel, photographers for Red Bull Content Pool. They share their experience shooting the Dakar Rally 2016 race and talk about what having Inmarsat on board as Red Bull Content Pool Technology Partner for Extreme Events means to them:

What is it like as a photographer following the race?

From the outset, keeping pace with racers at the Dakar Rally has been electrifying. I’ve really enjoyed driving alongside the most daring driver-cum-explorers, capturing them powering through even in the most gruelling of conditions, winding through rough yet stunning South American terrain.

Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

How have people reacted to/engaged with the content you have shared so far from the race?

People always want to see the very first unfiltered images of the rally. You can feel them vicariously taking in the adventure through the photographs and social media. The reaction and engagement to my photos has been amplified by the instant connectivity this time, which has been its own reward.

Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

How different is your experience by having Inmarsat as Red Bull Content Pool Technology Partner for Extreme Events differ to that of a team without communications on the move?

Keeping pace with the race is the bloodline for a rally photographer. So, there really isn’t anything more agonising than having to retreat to a place to send photos, with the clock ticking and the rallying drivers passing you by. Without satellite communications, we would’ve had to improvise in order to post photos, by either stopping at service stations in Argentina, or in worse situations, going back to the bivouac to send back images. With the satellite facility offered by Inmarsat’s BGAN service, the Red Bull Content Pool Land Rover Defender has been transformed into a mobile media distribution studio that can deliver content quickly – for example, we can send two files a minute at 1.5 megabytes and we’re always sure of having a strong and reliable satellite signal. We’re also using Inmarsat’s latest IsatPhone 2 handheld satellite phones, which means we can safely get as close to the action as possible.

Flavien Duhamel/Red Bull Content Pool

With so much exciting content to gather and relay, can you tell us little about how a stable, reliable broadband internet connection has helped to ensure a consistent content delivery from you and your team?

My mission, at every Dakar event, is to be the guy uploading the very first images of each stage to the web so they can be picked up by the world’s media. The only way to do this is to have a secure connection even in areas with zero on-ground connectivity. So it’s been extremely satisfying that Inmarsat’s satellite connectivity has allowed me to upload the first images of the race each day. The technology is so intuitive that I don’t even need to spend time pointing the device towards a satellite: this is all taken care by the device itself. It’s just a matter of plug and play; I can then rapidly upload my pictures to the Red Bull Content Pool regardless of wherever I am.

Land Rover on the Red Bull Dakar Rally

Do you feel safer knowing you’ve got connectivity?

Yes, absolutely. Connectivity does provide the photographer with more confidence, knowing support and contact is available 24 hours a day. The zig-zag trails and wet and muddy terrain prove challenging on their own, so it’s quite empowering to be equipped with safety support, knowing that at least in the event of any adversity, assistance is a call away.

To see some of the great pictures captured by Mario and Flavien from the heart of the Dakar Rally 2016 race, follow ImarsatGlobal on Instagram.

About the authors

Brazilian photographer Marcelo Marangi and French photographer Flavien Duhamel are just two of the talented and creative mix of global sports action photographers that make up Red Bull Photography. Following Red Bull Extreme Events around the world, they provide stunning images from the heart of the action, for editorial and licensed use through the Red Bull Content Pool.