Joshua Paul is off the grid. While print media continue to take a dive in sales, in 2014 he founded Lollipop, an art photography magazine for Grand Prix enthusiasts. While 99 percent of the population are addicted to their phones, he only uses his when travelling if there’s free WiFi. And in a world of digitalisation and Instagram, he’s reverted to shooting with a Graflex 4×5 view camera from 1913.
“I’ve been a Formula One fan for twenty years but I’d read papers, magazines and go online only to find photos of race wins, podium finishes or crashes. There are no beautiful photographs even though there are amazing photographers out there because it’s the clients dictating how people shoot,” Mr Paul told Monaco Life outside the Paddock in Quai Albert Ier.
“The media are responsible for wanting things on demand and, with the internet, people expect news and photos immediately,”
Mr Paul, who was born in California but has spent the last twenty years in New York, has travelled the world as an adventure photographer for Automobile, Men’s Journal, The New York Times Magazine, Outside, and United Airlines.
He covered his first F1 Grand Prix in Spain for Road & Track magazine in 2013, and ended up in Monaco the following week, and then at Silverstone. “I was shooting 4,000 images a race, but Road & Track couldn’t continue to sign my accreditation letters because there was nowhere to publish all these photos,” Mr Paul explained.
At the next race, he spoke to the FIA and said, “Hey, I’m going to launch my own F1 magazine, Lollipop.”
A year later, Mr Paul obtained Permanent Accreditation. Not an easy task. There are only about 40 people with this authorisation, and he is the only American.
Lollipop, which has been called “The Greatest Formula 1 Magazine You’ve Never Heard Of” by Popular Mechanics, covered the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix (72 pages) and 2013 Monaco Grand Prix (104 pages) respectively in its first two issues using only original content. By the third edition, Mr Paul knew that he couldn’t sustain the pace so switched to covering the entire 2014 season in over 228 pages featuring nine races.
For the most recent copy, Mr Paul worked in collaboration with David Gray, Creative Director, including a contribution from Brad Spurgeon of the New York Times.
“We photographed eleven races and invited nine Formula 1 insiders and designers to contribute exclusive articles and content to ‘Reimagine Formula 1’.”
Part of Lollipop’s increasing popularity over the past three years, in terms of earning kudos within the F1 world, is that Mr Paul doesn’t circulate photos: all his images – shots taken from digital and old cameras, like the 104-year-old Graflex and 1950s Rolleiflex twin reflex – are exclusively published in Lollipop.
Choosing one good shot over volume
“I’ve reverted back to when you had a film budget with 12 frames per roll and had to make every one count,” said Mr Paul, who only shoots about 20 frames per session. “It’s completely changed the way I’m shooting colour and digital, too, where I could shoot 400 frames on a memory card, now I only take 100 good shots.”
“In a funny way, this has been a passage into manhood. I feel comfortable with who I am as a photographer.” He believes “it’s more than just luck to get an F1 pass”, adding that he’s always been grateful for opportunities, but that he is contributing to and helping grow the Formula One sport in a different way. “I’m romanticising the sport and people are responding to it.”
Mr Paul had the idea to bring out the Graflex for the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix because it was oldest race in the calendar and the camera would lend itself to this look, but he hadn’t used the old camera since September 12, 2001, when he was shooting the firefighters coming out of the rubble for The New York Times.
“I never set out to do this. Someone recently said to me that they are not interested in F1 at all but they loved my photos. If I can reach an audience outside of the specific subject matter, then that’s pretty cool.”
Mr Paul claims he was born about 60 years too late. “I look at myself like a photographer living in black in white in New York City in the Forties and Fifties, shooting war photography with the Magnum guys.
“I’m living vicariously through my dream and recreating the past with this incredibly advanced mechanical camera for its time, creating an incredible juxtaposition with mechanical but modern cars.”
Mr Paul first picked up the Graflex in 1996, which he uses with an inverted wide angle lens circa 1880 reversed, when he did an internship with photographer James Fee, who used the camera to teach the budding photographers “how to loosen up”.
“We were shooting rigid, perfect pictures,” Mr Paul admitted. “But when you look through a camera like this, the world is different. It’s not easy, and you don’t get a lot of frames, but it’s trying to get the essence of the shot instead of worrying about volume.”
He explained that by publishing these images in Lollipop, you immortalise them. “So we are creating memories for people. It doesn’t matter who run won each race.”
He’s now on the hunt for the right art gallery to sell his unique black and white portraits and pit lane images, as well as meeting with potential advertisers and investors.
A 104-year-old camera goes viral
“When I switched servers in 2014, I never saw emails. Then, a few months ago, I found 500 unread emails, 20 important ones, including from PetaPikel in 2015, asking about the 104-year-old camera.”
Mr Paul answered their questions and sent some pictures, which were published in March. Within 48 hours, there were 10,000 views. Another website BoredPanda picked it up last week, and it’s had nearly 900,000 views. The story’s been picked up by dozens of foreign press.
“My Instagram account jumped from 1,000 to 9,000 followers.”
The internet sensation is earning Mr Paul respect from his colleagues, as proven by the number of multi-language hellos from media badge-wearing passerby. It’s also swinging doors wide open for the F1 photographer, who has worked hard paying his dues and building sincere relationships with press officers and mechanics.
“I’ve never met Lewis Hamilton. A year goes by and his press officer says he’s not interested. Another year goes by, same thing. But then I’m asked to meet with Mr Hamilton for ten minutes.
“We were just a couple of guys talking about cameras and he said to come by Friday and take some pictures. It’s a huge validation for me.”
To contact Joshua Paul or order a copy of Lollipop, see the website. Article first published May 25, 2017. Photos: Joshua Paul